Vice Squad
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Marijuana Freakout

The Freakonomics blog provides a public service today in the form of a debate concerning whether marijuana should be legalized. The Freaky final tally is three "yeas" and two "nays", plus some 60 comments or so. Pete goes the extra mile to point out the fundamental flaws in the "nay" arguments. To my mind, the "nay" position as articulated on the Freakonomics blog comes pretty close to the following pseudo-syllogism: (1) Marijuana is illegal; (2) marijuana is dangerous; (3) therefore, marijuana should be illegal. The naysayers don't really seem all that comfortable with actually punishing those dangerous pot users severely, though. Why not? After all, marijuana is illegal, marijuana is...

Dr. Robert L. DuPont's "nay" position starts out:
Legalization of alcohol would solve the alcohol problem the way legalizing speeding would solve the speeding problem: it would remove the legal inhibition of a dangerous behavior, and thereby encourage the behavior.
Oh, I did take the liberty of replacing his use of the word "marijuana" with "alcohol." I was led to this substitution out of hope. Dr. DuPont's famous namesake, Pierre du Pont, supported the Eighteenth amendment that ushered national alcohol Prohibition into the US. His firm, the Du Pont Company, manufactured munitions, and for safety reasons Du Pont forbade its workers from drinking. (Actually, it was only one of his firms; the remarkable Pierre had been president of both Du Pont and, later, General Motors.) But Pierre du Pont saw the effects of Prohibition, and following the lead of two of his brothers, became active -- indeed, all-but-essential -- in repealing the 18th Amendment; here's a photo of the dangerous radical, who had untold explosives at his disposal! How about it, Dr. DuPont? Any chance of a similar conversion?

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