The strongest argument for legalizing marijuana is based on freedom, particularly among the libertarians with whom I’m generally sympathetic. Reading this article by Jennifer Bogdan and Tom Mooney in the Providence Journal, though, I’m surprised by ways in which this might not be so true:
Birenbaum touted the state’s camera surveillance system, which keeps electric eyes on all the grows, and various other tracking and security measures.
While the attorney general may have legitimate concerns about future recreational use, Birenbaum says, “we want cities and towns to see there’s a difference” with a well-regulated medical marijuana program.
Weeks after the tour, Pawtucket gave local approval for three medical cultivation applicants, noting how impressed they were with the state’s ability to track grows and the pot they produced.
Statewide surveillance of an industry and close government tracking aren’t generally the hallmarks of freedom.
That’s why my view is one of freedom gained through strengthening society. If in general we’re operating under the civic premise that government has to take care of us all and take invasive measure to do so, then expanding the options for incapacitating ourselves and inviting government intervention aren’t likely to increase our total amount of freedom.
On the other hand, in a society in which individuals have strong character and families and communities are geared toward helping each other without the force of the law, our liberties can expand without infringing on our freedom.