The Most Dangerous Thing About Marijuana Atroszko Atroszko

I’m writing this column as an open letter to my state’s US Senators (Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott). I encourage you to write to yours as well, and if you like any of the language herein, feel free to “steal” it.

Dear Senators Rubio and Scott,

On December 4, the US House of Representatives passed, by a margin of 228 to 164, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the MORE Act would  remove marijuana from the federal “controlled substances” schedule. While the bill unfortunately includes provisions for regulation and taxation of the plant, it’s a move in the right direction.

The Washington Post reports that, to their and their party’s shame, all but five House Republicans voted against the bill, and that Republican leaders in the House and Senate mocked it as a distraction from other matters such as COVID-19 relief.

As former President Barack Obama liked to say, “let me be clear” on this issue:

While I’m personally never inclined to vote for Republicans or Democrats, in Florida those are usually my only two options in US Senate races. You have a chance to get my vote for re-election in 2022 (Senator Rubio) or 2024 (Senator Scott) .

In fact, if you sponsor a Senate version of the bill, work to bring it to a vote, cast your vote in favor of it, and lean hard on President Trump (or, depending on time frame, President Biden) to sign it, you’ve got a pretty GOOD shot at my vote.

If you assist Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in keeping such a bill from coming to the floor for a vote, or if you vote against that bill when it comes before you, you’ve got NO shot at my vote. Not for US Senator, not for President, not even for dog-catcher.

It’s just that simple.

Thirty-six states now provide for medical access to marijuana, and 15 states have legalized recreational use. It’s time for the federal government to get with the program.

Marijuana is not and never has been a dangerous drug. It’s a medically and commercially useful plant, and as a recreational intoxicant it’s considerably less unhealthy and dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.

In fact, the most dangerous thing — practically the ONLY dangerous thing — about marijuana is the possibility of getting arrested over it.

Millions of Americans have, over the course of decades, found themselves entangled in the criminal justice system for using, possessing, growing, buying, or selling a common and beneficial plant.

That’s a moral crime, and politicians like you are chief among its perpetrators. Your participation in the ongoing conspiracy against rights known as marijuana prohibition ruins lives, destroys careers, and restrains commerce to the detriment of all Americans.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act offers you a chance to give up the thug life on this one issue. Seize that opportunity with both hands — if not because it’s the right thing to do, then because your political futures depend on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


The Negative Philanthropic Highway

Lloyd George as “The Philanthropic Highwayman” by Edward Linley Sambourne from the August 5, 1908 issue of Punch magazine. Public domain.

Some of the richest young heirs plan to use their inherited wealth “to undo systems that accumulate money for those at the top” despite being among them (“Silver-Spoon Socialists,” The New York Times, November 29). Convinced that “true wealth redistribution means redistributing authority” rather than mere largesse, they are “investing in or donating to credit unions, worker-owned businesses, community land trusts, and nonprofits” that spread power as well as money.

Such alternatives have long been dismissed as marginal, it having been assumed that only concentration of political power can effectively fight concentration of economic power. As Doug Henwood has advised anti-corporate protesters, “socialize Merck, don’t dissolve it,” since he considers “large, complex organization” necessary. Such urgings were little needed at the close of a twentieth century when socialization had become almost synonymous with nationalization (or at the very least heavy regulation).

Yet the move away from such a conflation two decades into the twenty-first century was anticipated as far back as the nineteenth, when the economic stratagems of Josiah Warren, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Benjamin Tucker aimed at what Tucker called “subjecting capital to the natural law of competition.” A freer market could “socialize its effects by making its use beneficial to all instead of a means of impoverishing the many to enrich the few.”

Even as the twentieth century produced unprecedented amassings of wealth and power, attentive historical scholars confirmed Tucker’s view that legal privileges entrenched dominant firms and blocked the benefits of market exchange in the realms of banking, real estate, international trade, and invention. Bertrand Russell observed that “the harm that is done by great industrialists is usually dependent upon their access to some source of monopoly power.” Gabriel Kolko showed how “it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it.”

The sources of monopoly power identified by Tucker are still the primary factors that distort free trade into unfair trade. Those interested in using what they have to help have-nots should aim to reroute the economy beyond those barriers — or remove them entirely.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a contributing editor at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.