Last week, in her remarks at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Cassanelli pointed out that the same “justifications” that I have given for repealing marijuana laws, could equally apply to opium poppies and heroin. I would also add that coca and cocaine are equally one of “God’s green herbs bearing seed,” given to all mankind for our use.
Repeal of a law does not have to be justified; the law, the use of force, has to be justified. In arguing against the repeal of a law, it is not an argument to say that another, similar law is equally unjust. It is an argument for further repeal.
If this be a slippery slope, it is a slippery slope to justice, which is devoutly to be wished. But I’ve never found the road to justice to be slick or easy. I doubt that legalizing marijuana will quickly lead to legal heroin or cocaine.
But would this be a bad thing? Heroin is the finest, most natural painkiller ever discovered by mankind. They had to ban it to be able sell us stuff like aspirin. My late husband could have used it when he was dying of cancer. In Arizona, he could have gotten a doctor’s permission to use it, but their law only allows use, not sales, so he would have had to pay black-market prices for a drug of unknown purity, if he could find it.
Commissioner Cassanelli said that she wouldn’t want to see the entire county addicted to opium. Would that happen? Were all Americans, or even a large percentage of the population, addicted to opium, heroin, or cocaine before the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1916? Apparently not, or it never would have been passed. Not even alcohol, the most widely used addictive narcotic, was widely used enough to prevent Prohibition. Its ending did not create a nation of drunks.
Addicts can get all the heroin they want; doctors and their patients can’t get it, and can’t trust black-market dope. Afghan farmers grow poppies and make heroin for the world market and fund their warlords and insurgents. We could make it here and cut off that funding if it were legal.
No matter how pernicious a substance is, a black market in that substance is worse. Nothing spreads the use of a medicine like a legion of addicted salesmen on the streets. An addicted drug salesman has to sell his particular drug to get the money for more; a pharmacist has to sell drugs, but not any particular drug; he has thousands to choose from.
Commissioner Ellis said that we’ve gone from “one nation under God” to “one nation under government.” We moved away from God and bowed to government when we started banning God’s green herbs.