I/S comments on pot decriminalisation:
From a liberal perspective, the state has no interest in policing what people stick in their bodies for fun. If it causes public health problems, like alcohol and tobacco, then you treat it as a public health issue, like alcohol and tobacco. But you don’t go around banning things just because old farts disapprove.
That is the strict liberal perspective. I used to adhere to it myself: ‘People should be free to take whatever substances they want.’
The problem with this is that many drugs have addictive properties. They actually take away the individuals’ freedom to choose whether to consume them or not: nicotine and heroin are the classic examples. By banning their sale and preventing addiction, aren’t you actually increasing the total aggregate of freedom? (I guess this forms the core of almost all left-wing politics: by removing freedom in one area we greatly increase it in another).
The liberal counter-argument is that people have to consume the product to become addicted, and that’s a matter of choice. But the companies that sell these products target them at low-information demographics, like children and teenagers, whose ability to make rational choices is reduced. And when they are able to make rational decisions they’re addicted.
I don’t think pot is addictive (although some people demonstrate compulsive behaviour towards it, and the effect is similar to addiction), so I think it should be decriminalised. But I don’t buy into the liberal philosophy of a broad legalisation of drugs of abuse.