Jeffrey Tucker yet again has drawn controversy after he wrote an article criticizing potheads or people who smoke marijuana. In response, Sterlin Lujan at the Art of Not Being Governed has penned a reply that is worth your time.
Also, Christopher Cantwell, of all people, has written an article actually defending Tucker, at least on this point. His argument is most sound when he criticizes people who smoke pot, not for smoking it, but for trying to make it a fundamental aspect of libertarianism.
For many pothead free staters, the discovery of a place and social circle where their drug of choice is not only tolerated but celebrated, is the defining characteristic of liberty. It matters not that the federal government is an existential and ever expanding threat to the safety and happiness of all mankind. All that matters is pot, promiscuity, and gay marriage.
Tucker also notes the “you’re with us or against us” mentality of some weed smokers.
It also makes me sad that people judge me so severely for not being a weed user. I’ve had wonderfully promising friendships come to an abrupt halt once I confess that I don’t smoke it. The person looks disappointed at first, and I can just see what he or she is thinking: “Well, you can never be my friend.”
I think of everything else argued these are two valid points, and consequently they are not directly related to actually smoking weed. Yet, I also think that much of what Tucker says about smoking weed itself is subjective, as Lujan points out.
So where do I stand on this?
My opinion is a little complicated. I don’t smoke weed, never have, and never will. But I know several people who are fond of their weed, and they enjoy smoking often in front of me. They’re also annoying as Ned Flanders about how wonderful it is and everyone should try and “how can you not want to smoke it?” So Tucker’s anecdotal evidence matches my own.
Personally, I prefer beer, wine, liquor and tobacco of different varieties. I enjoy partaking of them with others, and also alone. I don’t think my preferences are morally superior or healthier (weed smells awful, in my opinion, but others could say the same about beer or tobacco smoke, so who am I to argue?). At the same time, I don’t care whether anyone else wants to drink or smoke with me, and I’ve never harassed anyone for not wanting to smoke or drink (I actually used to be “that guy” who didn’t drink).
More importantly, I also don’t want to make drinking whiskey or smoking cigarillos a trademark of libertarianism, or make it a “litmus test” for people to be a part of the movement. For a lot of “liberty lovers” I know, however, weed is their religion; their lives are focused around it one way or another, and thus it must be a fundamental plank of libertarianism.
I feel obligated to point out that, yes, not all potheads are like that (NAPALT?) but it only takes a few vocal activists to cloud the liberty movement the same way mud does water.
Is weed good for you? Lujan cites studies in their response to Tucker you can read and decide for yourself, but to be frank as a libertarian, I don’t care either way. Besides, as long as I drink and smoke tobacco I’m not going to lecture others.
As a reporter I once covered the legality of medical marijuana (I live in Washington), but what really bothered me is how a lot of marijuana advocates always argued in favor of cities allowing dispensaries based on its health benefits. To me, it’s a horrible way of arguing for freedom. Root beer isn’t wonderful for me, but I don’t need to justify its nutritional value before drinking it. Candy isn’t going to keep me from getting diabetes. So what? From a legal perspective, it’s all about self-ownership. But, of course, many of them didn’t believe in self-ownership (they didn’t believe in recreational marijuana legalization, for example). They just wanted to smoke weed themselves.
My point being that libertarian who smoke weed should watch out for those among them who claim to be libertarian but in reality their politics is whatever enables them to smoke weed.
What I do think is bad isn’t smoking weed but weed smokers who try to make their lifestyle choices distinctively libertarian and then try to convert everyone else to the Cause. Like Cantwell said, this to many of them is the “defining characteristic of liberty.” It shouldn’t be.
Mind you, none of my lifestyle choices described above are defining characteristics of liberty. I enjoy my cigarillos and my liquor and my beers. Were they to be banned I would certainly fight for their legalization, but I wouldn’t make it the centerpiece of human freedom or the meaning of life, because I don’t place them above more important issues. Whenever that happens it should be opposed, whether it’s about smoking weed or having bourbon for breakfast.