Prohibition injures individuals and is morally repugnant. If any well accepted social norm stands in stark opposition to the non-aggression principle most libertarians hold dear it is state sponsored prohibition.
A long-standing libertarian goal is just now coming into focus for non-libertarians: ending the prohibition against cannabis. Now in the 8th decade of a total ban on production, use and even most testing for possible benefits, we are just now finding out the natural compounds in the plant have medicinal uses far beyond relieving anxiety and stress. A majority of Americans now believe that “medical marijuana” should be legalized for relieving pain and increasing appetite. I believe this exposes the sympathetic nature of our citizens who consider their fellow Americans as more worthy of pain relief than our misguided legislators.
I like that compassion. But I’m arguing to consider prohibition itself as much more nefarious. Using cannabis as an example, we see now, some 80+ years later, that prohibition is more than wrong. It is murder.
Consider the use of Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis strain that has proven to be beneficial for some of the children who have Dravet syndrome. As shown in this YouTube Video from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN, Charlotte Figi was helped by a certain strain of cannabis. The typical child who has Dravet syndrome succumbs to death early, with some 70+% dying before age 10. The syndrome may appear in about 1 in 20,000 births in the US, making it a rare disease with perhaps 200 new sufferers born every year.
Parents will try every combination of drug on the market in association with their physicians, then, for those who are not helped, may try medical marijuana. In Charlotte Figi’s case, it is an unqualified success. It’s hard to find exact numbers of children who are helped, but I’ve seen estimates of 30 to 50%. We simply don’t know, because parents are treating the children themselves, and doctors and researchers are just now doing some limited research.
Is Charlotte Figi’s life more important than an 80 year old drug policy?
I say yes.
But consider the full impact for this one, rare disease. If 200 children are born with Dravet’s syndrome every year, and 30% of them could be helped by cannabis, legalization would save 60 children a year. Or, stated more clearly, the marijuana prohibition kills 60 children a year. There is no reason why we should need to do the math, but from this one disease, multiply that 60 children by 80 years of prohibition and perhaps 4,800 children have died. That doesn’t include the other pediatric seizure disorders just now starting tests. How many have died?
Prohibition is murder.
Think about that the next time a “crisis” comes along and some legislator or journalist, with not a scientific bone in their body, believes “getting tough” and banning something will work. The prohibition will have undesirable side effects, most likely causing the death of others.