A Return to The Tea Party and the War on Drugs

teapartypatriots

In an earlier post, following on from a piece by Jeffery Miron, I wondered about the Tea Party and the war on drugs.  Via the GOP nominee for the US Senate in Nevada (Sharon Angle), we have one data point. And yes, two obvious disclaimers:  she is a Republican (as there is no real Tea Party as an entity) and we are talking about one piece of data. Still, given the topic of my previous post, the following (from an interview with Angle) struck me:

Angle directed her opinion to the fact that marijuana is an illegal substance and she cannot support anything that is illegal. Furthermore, the decision reinforces what was always true in the first place with Nevada’s law allowing marijuana use for medical purposes — no state law protects marijuana-toking Americans. “My greatest problem with marijuana is that it’s illegal, which gives Nevadans a false sense of security in this whole thing,” Angle said. “If the DEA has the manpower and wanted to go after this, there is no place in Nevada state law that can protect people because federal law supersedes state law.” Her opinion, though, ignores states’ rights and individual freedom. Also, Angle’s faith quickly surfaced, extinguishing her argument that she disapproves of medical marijuana primarily on the elementary premise that it’s illegal. “I would tell you that I have the same feelings about legalizing marijuana, not medical marijuana, but just legalizing marijuana,” Angle offered. “I feel the same about legalizing alcohol. “The effect on society is so great that I’m just not a real proponent of legalizing any drug or encouraging any drug abuse,” she continued. “I’m elected by the people to protect, and I think that law should protect.”

A few things:

1.  As a Tea Party backed candidate, she represents one candidate taking a distinctly non-libertarian view on drugs.

2.  Her logical is utterly circular:  she is in favor of marijuana being illegal because, after all, it’s illegal.

3.  “I feel the same about legalizing alcohol.” ?!?!?

4.  Another rather non-Tea Partyesque view here:  she is touting federal authority over state authority.  Where’s the Tenth Amendment love?  (and yes, I am being snarky, but I actually find this all interesting).

5.  A non-libertarian view:  “I’m elected by the people to protect”.  I can accept, by the way, that libertarians would see government as provided basic security (police, military, etc.).  However, when it comes to personal behavior, libertarian thinking tends to view the state acting to protect individuals from their own behavior to be anathema.  See, for example, the notion of the Harm Principle.

I do agree, by the way, with Doug:  Angle is the candidate that Harry Reid has the best chance to beat of the three GOPers who ran.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t find her logic circular. She is being asked about her support for a state medical marijuana law, which is illegal under federal law. Citizens that rely upon such a state law face some serious criminal penalties if prosecuted. If I were a legislator I would not support such a law, until the practice was legalized at the federal level.

    But ultimately she also appears to be a prohibitionist. She would outlaw things which are harmful to oneself. I wonder what her position on gambling is?

  2. malcolm kyle says:

    Many of us have now finally wised up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation, which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco –two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to the absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society.

    There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you’re using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody ‘halfway bright’ and who’s not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to let legal businesses meet that demand.

    No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you support prohibition then you’ve helped trigger the worst crime wave in history.

    If you support prohibition you’ve a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped raise gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to escalate Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped overcrowd the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

    If you support prohibition then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

  3. sam says:

    Whew!

    Well, I went to her web site, http://www.sharonangle.com, hoping for some position papers, what have you, and all I found was a “Send Money” bleg. Oh, and about 1500 people say they like the site….

  4. TYC says:

    I agree. That’s the classic example of circular logic.

    I don’t want it legal because it’s illegal.

    Sure, makes sense to …. I don’t know… not me. I don’t understand the prohibitionist mindset. Just saying that something is illegal doesn’t make it go away.

    I vote to completely legalize cannabis for age appropriate adults.

    Keep it up, Malcolm.

  5. […] me at OTB:  A Return to The Tea Party and the War on Drugs. addthis_url = 'http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poliblogger.com%2F%3Fp%3D19084'; addthis_title = […]

  6. Max Lybbert says:

    Not that it affects the analysis any, but Sharon Angle is the GOP *Senate* candidate. The Gubernatorial candidate is Brain Sandoval. He’s notable for being the first person to beat a sitting governor in the primary in a long time.

  7. Max: Thanks for noting the error. I don’t know why my brain kept wanting to put here in the governor’s race!

  8. Alex says:

    prohibitionists are nothing but communists

  9. malcolm kyle says:

    “prohibitionists are nothing but communists”

    Well said Alex!!! Those could have been the words of Milton Friedman:
    http://www.druglibrary.org/special/friedman/socialist.htm

    Prohibitionists like Sharon Angle need to realize that there has never been a drug-free society; the use of addictive or recreational drugs is a natural part of human existence. Nobody is claiming that any substance is beneficial for either the individual or society. It is true however that certain substances help the soul heal and relieve pain while others provide short-term relief from a monotonous existence at the risk of possible long-term health problems.

    An important aspect of Individual freedom is the right to do with yourself as you please as long as your actions cause no unnecessary suffering or direct harm to others. Many among us may disagree with this, and they should be free to believe what they wish, but the moment they are willing to use force to impose their will on the rest of us, is the exact same moment that the petty criminals/dealers, the Mafia, drug barons, terrorists and corrupt government officials/agencies enter the equation. The problems created by self harm then rapidly pale into insignificance as society spirals downwards into a dark abyss, while the most shady characters and ‘black-market corporate entities’ exponentially enrich themselves in a feeding frenzy likened to that of piranhas on bath-tub meth.

  10. Jordan Diaz says:

    When we talk about cannabis why is it always the “drug” stuff? Only certain strains of the female plant are “dangerous.” Cannabis hemp could end deforestation overnight. Cannabis hemp can be used as biodegradable plastic. Cannabis hemp can be converted into bio-fuel. It could reduce off-shore drilling substantially. It can be eaten and is better for than corn. We could end starvation. PAPER, PLASTIC, HOUSING, CARS, FOOD SUPPLY there is almost nothing this plant cannot do. It is a safer medicine than tylenol and esp. marinol. The entire plant (stem, seed, leaf and flower) is usable and best of all it has a CLOSED CARBON CYCLE!! Cannabis hemp can be harvested four times a year. The War on Drugs is a war on farmers, the hungry, the poor all in the name perpetuating the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex. It is rooted in racism and serves as a present day slavery. The DEA is a terrorist organization operating outside of the U.S. Constitution.

  11. malcolm kyle says:

    Prohibitionists like Sharon Angle need to realize that there has never been a drug-free society; the use of addictive or recreational drugs is a natural part of human existence. Nobody is claiming that any substance is beneficial for either the individual or society. It is true however that certain substances help the soul heal and relieve pain while others provide short-term relief from a monotonous existence at the risk of possible long-term health problems.

    An important aspect of Individual freedom is the right to do with yourself as you please as long as your actions cause no unnecessary suffering or direct harm to others. Many among us may disagree with this, and they should be free to believe what they wish, but the moment they are willing to use force to impose their will on the rest of us, is the exact same moment that the petty criminals/dealers, the Mafia, drug barons, terrorists and corrupt government officials/agencies enter the equation. The problems created by self harm then rapidly pale into insignificance as society spirals downwards into a dark abyss, while the most shady characters and ‘black-market corporate entities’ exponentially enrich themselves in a feeding frenzy likened to that of piranhas on bath-tub meth.

  12. malcolm kyle says:

    Sorry guys about the double post! I meant to add to Jordan’s thoughts on hemp.

    Hemp can indeed be used to build anything from a musical instrument to the body of a stealth bomber. Hemp packaging would allow you to eat the container for dessert in fast-food joints. Commercial hemp could, once again, be the greatest economic engine of the human race.

    While the truth is that all the above assertions are perfectly legitimate, unfortunately, hemp has become so marginalized in our society that the myriad benefits of the substance appear as ridiculous pipe dreams, when in fact they are a perfectly reasonable and achievable reality.

  13. Michael says:

    Hemp can also produce cold fusion reactors. Hemp can travel faster than the speed of light without encountering relativistic effects. Hemp can reverse aging and raise the dead. Hemp can beat up Chuck Norris.

    Is it me, or are all these claims about the miraculous things hemp can do dreamed up by people in a drug-induced haze?

  14. TYC says:

    @ Michael

    Seriously, Google “Hemp for Victory”, watch the movie, and see what the US Gov’t says about hemp. Google George Washington and Hemp and see what our first president says about hemp. Try Thomas Jefferson and Hemp. Illinois alone spends about 70 million a year pulling up feral hemp. Watch ’em do it in the fall when the plants are full of seed guaranteeing another photo op next year. Kentucky, some other states…about the same. Do you consider this money well spend considering that you can’t get high from hemp? Educate yourself about hemp. It really is a wonder plant and should be completely legal considering that our farmers can’t grow it but we import 1.9 million pounds every year.

    Is it me, or are all these claims about the horrible things hemp can do dreamed up by people in a prohibitionist haze?

  15. Michael says:

    TYC,
    I have no doubt that we waste large sums of money every year eradicating hemp. I’m also sure it has many fine and useful quantities. However, claims like stopping deforestation overnight, solving world hunger, and making a significant impact on the need for petroleum, well you’d have to be stoned to believe that.

  16. Jordan Diaz says:

    Perhaps I exaggerated some with ending world hunger (although hemp grows in almost any climate and can be eaten). It’s a bio-fuel so yes you still would need diesel fuel to go with it. The deforestation point is absolutely true. Any thing a tree can do hemp can do ten-fold. It grows faster and is much more durable. It is the strongest natural fiber. I understand you think I am some lazy stoner who yells about cannabis glory but that is subjective. It is a fact that hemp would make chopping down trees unnecessary and if you don’t believe me or the literature, then fine, but to circle back and call me stoner who’s too high to comprehend hemp’s uses is childish. Even if it didn’t happen overnight it would on some level reduce all of these.

  17. Michael says:

    Any thing a tree can do hemp can do ten-fold.

    Now you’ve got me curious, what exactly is the shear strength and compression strength of hemp beams?

  18. TYC says:

    @ Michael

    “Now you’ve got me curious, what exactly is the shear strength and compression strength of hemp beams?”

    Look, I’m an engineer so I understand shear and compression strength. I see what you are trying to do. I think you are trying to debunk the claim using terms that most people don’t use in their daily activities.

    Seriously, did you look up anything on hemp? There are many non-drug uses for hemp that we as a country do not do because of prohibition. If you look at the progression of the cannabis prohibition movement, initially hemp and hemp seed was specifically excluded. It wasn’t until the drug warriors went after hemp in the ’40’s that it was included with the prohibition of cannabis. You can find this information very easily on the internet.

    What only one acre of hemp will do for fiber will take 4 acres of trees and little or no fertilizer. I suppose that if you compressed hemp the same way that some wood beams are compressed from wood waste that there would be a fairly close match as hemp paper has a higher tensile strength than wood fiber paper…and without the chemical used to produce wood based paper.

    If you are using engineering terms, then you are smart enough to do yourself a favor and research hemp. As someone associated with the engineering trade, you have an ethical duty to determine the truth and not parrot the same old ‘you’re just a stupid pothead’ line. I have faith that you will, friend.

  19. Michael says:

    I see what you are trying to do. I think you are trying to debunk the claim using terms that most people don’t use in their daily activities.

    Most people don’t use the word hemp in their daily activities either, what’s your point? Do you think people don’t understand what these terms mean, just because they don’t generally have a reason to use them? These are important qualities in our application of wood-based products, so hemp equivalents would have to meet the same strengths to be a replacement.

    If you are using engineering terms, then you are smart enough to do yourself a favor and research hemp.

    I did try to find the actual compression and shear strengths of hemp, but was only able to find discussions of tensile strength.

    As someone associated with the engineering trade, you have an ethical duty to determine the truth and not parrot the same old ‘you’re just a stupid pothead’ line.

    In my defense, people were making some pretty stupid claims in their promotions of hemp. For both physical and economical reasons, hemp will not replace our use of lumber from trees.

  20. TYC says:

    @ Michael

    OK, I’ll buy that hemp will never completely replace wood especially in terms of structural beams and support bearing columns. However, I do believe that hemp has a useful place in society for many other completely valid, scientifically based reasons. I just find it … odd that we can import hemp but our farmers can’t grow it. Does that make sense to you?

    Should hemp remain illegal?

  21. Michael says:

    Should hemp remain illegal?

    You’re asking the wrong guy, I can’t even think of a good reason why cannabis should remain illegal and untaxed.

  22. TYC says:

    @ Michael

    As a citizen, you are never the wrong guy to ask about how our government should operate. Anyway, I do appreciate your honesty on the topic. Thank you for that. Have a good weekend!