This essay originates from a comment I posted to a link/status update on Facebook by Wayne Allyn Root. He sent out a link to a cnbc.com slide show titled "Marijuana: by the numbers."
Among the comments preceding mine is one lamenting the notion of accepting decriminalization and likely taxation of marijuana if and when it does finally become legal in the United States. In fact, the CNBC piece mentions that recent estimates suggest marijuana could be a $40 billion-a-year industry based on current usage rates.
The other respondent's argument is of a purist perspective on libertarianism: that we ought not to partner our political and legislative efforts with those whose motivations are to trade one form of governmental control of personal behavior for another. In a sense, moving from prohibition to legalization purely for the sake of generating tax revenue qualifies as such. He is right on that point.
But, to argue the way he did against taking the pragmatic approach toward legalization that currently is underway is going to get little accomplished in the current political atmosphere in America. From here, my elaborated reply follows.
One thing that is going to prevent many Libertarian efforts from ever seeing the light of day is this "all or nothing" attitude on issues such as legalization.
I agree that people ought to be able to enjoy the right to choose whether or not they wish to ingest THC without taxes, a state-issued card (referring to medical marijuana access in some states), or other governmental apparatus attached to it.
However, with all the history of bias fueling a great deal of the resistance to legalization of marijuana, Libertarians are going to need to accept the one-step-at-a-time path: decriminalization; expanded acceptance for medical purposes; heavily regulated and taxed access upon legalization; and eventually taxed and monitored access under the same guidelines as alcohol.
For long-time purists of Libertarian ideology, I understand that these conditions are not acceptable to you. I think it stinks, too.
But, unfortunately, our society is one that will require easing into accepting the end of marijuana prohibition. What we need to do is, whenever this effort takes one step forward in terms of how federal and state laws approach possession and distribution of it, stand firm on the ground that has been gained and identify the next logical goal in terms of either court battles or influencing the next round of legislation aimed at further legalization/decriminalization.
Even Rand Paul managed to get Sean Hannity to see his perspective (to some extent) on the need for ending the war on drugs and dramatically scaling-back its myriad of penalties for simple possession. Now that is major step forward.