Chapter 10 – Public Writings: Legalize Drugs

Drugs and the Supreme Court.  (11-16-87)

With Douglas Ginsburg’s withdrawal of his nomination to the Supreme Court, we Americans have lost a unique opportunity to deal honestly with two controversial issues.

With a sitting justice who smoked marijuana more or less regularly for 10 years we could have finally confronted the legal and moral prejudices that exist in this country against marijuana.  We could have attempted to decouple marijuana from dangerous drugs such as heroin or cocaine, and from crime.  Because of the ideological straitjacket worn by Reaganites, I’m afraid that opportunity will not now present itself.

The question of paternalistic laws in general could also have attained serious dialogue.  If teaching professors at one of the country’s most prestigious law schools routinely flout that class of laws designed only to protect us from ourselves, then maybe it is time we, as a society, reconsider the validity of that class of laws.  It might be we shouldn’t be allowed to proscribe individual behavior when such behavior affects only that individual.

It’s true I wouldn’t want someone of Ginsburg’s ideological bent to sit on the Supreme Court, but I am dismayed that the possible positive societal advances which might have been accomplished had he become a justice are not now likely to happen.