When a Michigan Attorney General issues an “opinion” it is not like someone gassing at the barber shop. An Attorney General’s opinion has the force of law. Michigan police officers follow attorney general opinions unless and until courts overrule them.
So when Michigan Attorney General Schuette issued his opinion a few weeks ago about medical marihuana, it means lives will change.
Reminder—63% of Michigan voters approved making medical marihuana legal just 3 years ago. This makes Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s recent “opinion” more like a fatwa. Mr. Schuette opined that police in Michigan must seize marihuana from licensed medical marihuana patients and must not return marihuana to these patients, even if the victim can prove that he possesses the marihuana legally under Michigan’s medical marihuana law.
Much like a mullah issuing a fatwa, Mr. Schuette is certain of his righteousness. The same righteousness oozes from countless other drug warriors. They know that marihuana use leads inexorably to societal collapse. They know that marihuana users must be locked up in prisons.
The irony is this: laws against drug use cause far more harm than the drugs themselves.
Of course one cannot downplay the problem of drug addiction. Many people reading this have known people addicted to drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and opiates. These addictions have serious health consequences and can cause premature death.
But please realize that most of the health consequences are caused by drug laws, not the drugs themselves. When heroin addicts die of overdoses, hepatitis and AIDS, it is because heroin is illegal. If addicts could obtain heroin legally under a doctor’s supervision most of them would live and function, and most of them would likely come to a point where they would defeat their addiction. The same applies to drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and the sundry legal painkillers and sleep aids that ensnare addicts.
Drug addiction should not be a crime. It should be something we treat, like alcoholism or cigarette smoking. We should encourage people to stop using dangerous drugs, and we should try to minimize the damage that drugs cause. We should not be throwing these people in jail and causing thousands of them to die prematurely every year.
But set aside the human toll and consider the cost in dollars. We spend tens of billions to police, prosecute, and imprison drug users. Why? What is the benefit? The answer is “none.” We just make the problem worse.
Consider also the effect we have on neighboring countries. We have made drugs illegal, and yet we purchase tens of billions of dollars in illegal drugs every year. This has created enormous criminal gangs in countries like Mexico and Columbia to supply our habit. These gangs murder, terrorize and pervert the cultures of their host countries. We are responsible for this human misery.
Finally, consider the erosion of our own liberty. Police departments have an impossible task—enforce the prohibition against illegal drugs while obeying the constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. Not surprisingly the constitution has been thrown out the window.
Police departments have become paramilitary forces with tanks, battering rams, flash-bang grenades, automatic weapons, midnight raids, snitches, and stop-and-frisk policies. These are intolerable infringements on the liberties of a free people. These are inevitable consequences of the war on drugs.
Mr. Schuette opines that people who use marihuana to deal with medical issues should be imprisoned. I have a different opinion. People who use marihuana for any reason should be left alone. People addicted to drugs should have access to addiction treatment and access to drugs while the addiction plays itself out.
The war on drugs was never worth the cost. Mr. Schuette is defending a fraud and a lie.