The Libertarian Argument for Recreational Drugs

I’ve been mulling over a few posts on other libertarian blogs about marijuana decriminalization and I want to throw out what I think is a good argument for allowing people to use recreational drugs as they choose and focus on addiction prevention instead of prohibition enforcement:

One of the largest recreational drugs in America is Viagra. No one can say with a straight face that taking a drug that prolongs erections isn’t anything other than a pleasure drug. Users intentionally have sex and the resulting orgasm dramatically increases dopamine levels in the brain, not unlike the effects of using prohibited drugs like marijuana. Viagra is also characteristically “addictive” in the same sense as marijuana — psychologically.

Does anyone know if there are any other kinds of prescription drugs that would fit the description of recreational drugs, based on the previous observation?

UPDATE: In related news, the SCOTUS handed down a judgement today ruling 6-to-3 against state rights to legalize medical marijuana. O’Connor, one of those dissenting, said the federal government was overreaching to endorse “making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one’s own home for one’s own medicinal use.” In an era of increasing centralism (which used to be a liberal/Democrat ideal that has been hijacked by conservatives/Republicans in recent years), this decision shouldn’t be much of a shock, but what is surprising is how apple-pie the ones who brought the case seem to be.

UPDATE 2: The plaintiffs are going to defy the ruling anyways.

“I’m going to have to be prepared to be arrested,” said Diane Monson, who smokes marijuana several times a day to relieve back pain.

10-to-1 odds says this guy has his home raided and is carted off within the month. I think the drug war may start heating up and getting lots of press coverage if that happens. The LNC needs to start paying attention here, a well-timed (and toned) press release would do wonders for libertarian visibility.

UPDATE 3: Even Reagan Republicans are having a hard time swallowing the failed War on Drugs. Economist Milton Friedman has come out swinging in favor of marijuana reform:

At 92, Friedman is revered as one of the great champions of free-market capitalism during the years of U.S. rivalry with Communism. He is also passionate about the need to legalize marijuana, among other drugs, for both financial and moral reasons.

“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana,” the economist says, “$7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven’t even included the harm to young people. It’s absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.”

He and 500 other economists from around the U.S. today will publicly endorse a Harvard University economist’s report on the costs of marijuana prohibition. The report cites that instead of spending $7.7 billion in combined state and federal spending a year, taxation would yield up to $6.2 billion a year.

UPDATE 4: Coyote Blog points out an interesting duplicity in that the ruling was made on the basis that homegrown weed cut into the profits of illegal intrastate traffickers:

lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department argued to the Supreme Court that homegrown marijuana represented interstate commerce, because the garden patch weed would affect “overall production” of the weed, much of it imported across American borders by well-financed, often violent drug gangs

His response:

By the way, think about that for a minute. They are arguing that home-grown weed would “affect” the inter-state commerce of “violent drug gangs”. How would it affect it? It would reduce their commerce! So the feds are claiming purview over home-grown pot because it would, what? Unfairly reduce the inter-state trade of violent drug gangs?

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. I guess people’s response to that would be that viagra is prescribed to people with a “problem”, just like pain-killers are prescribed to people with a problem, like an injury.

    Viagra’s main usage isn’t really “recreational”, it just “normalizes” you so you can do a recreational activity, just as pain-killers normalize you so you.

    I’d be lying if I said that marijuana normalizes me, although it may have that effect for others. And of course, if I were taking viagra, it would be for purely recreational reasons, though others would think differently.

  2. So, walking around with an erection is a normal state? I also don’t buy that viagra is mostly prescribed for “problem” patients, and I bet malingering to get viagra prescribed is probably a very high occurance.

    I’m not saying that marijuana and viagra are similar in any other way than that they are for recreational purposes. They are both used in order to make the user feel good and are not mandatory or life-saving in any way.

    Do I think this is bad? Of course not, that’s why I think it makes a good libertarian argument.

  3. Ahhh there is nothing like that marijuana and viagra cocktail to put you in the mood and assure a long lasting, fulfilling and pleasurable experience!

    Buy today! :-b

  4. “Do I think this is bad? Of course not, that’s why I think it makes a good libertarian argument.”

    Although I agree, I’m just trying to guess what the non-believers are going to say.

    “So, walking around with an erection is a normal state?”

    No, but getting one in the first place is. Walking around high on prescription painkilers isn’t a normal state either.

  5. Hahahahaha! Nothing like catching the government admitting to something we all knew to be true anyway.

    They bring in and sell the drugs (make money). They promote the war on drugs and use it as a scare tactic to get other legislation passed (make money, start wars). They bust people for selling drugs, and worse using them (make money).

    FYI, Marijuana is a plant… and not processed in the slightest. It is a plant, and raw! Let’s talk about the accepted drug, man made and fermented AKA poison… alcohol!


  6. I’m half tempted to call anti-depressants recreational drugs. Do they not artificially change one’s normal state? When I’m depressed, a good toke always makes me feel better–

  7. my old apartment-mate smoked medically. He “quit” for two weeks for a job interview. by the end of the first week I wanted to kill him, by the end of the second week I felt sorry for him, marijuana did what no other drug could do at its level of effectiveness and cost.

    not that I think normalcy is a good arguement for medication. normal is human flaws, flaws that bring disease and pain. we try and fix those flaws to allow for pain free living, but what we can’t fix yet, we mask.