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The Independent Institute
Commentary

Isn’t It High Time We Legalize Marijuana?


On a couple of different occasions, I have used this space to call for an end to the economic, moral, and cultural disaster that is the drug war (1, 2, 3). American governments at all levels have been fighting the war on drugs for over four decades now, and it’s overwhelmingly clear that it’s time to cut our losses, admit that the whole thing was a mistake, and work toward restoring the lives that have been destroyed by the drug war.

I’m surprised–and saddened–that this isn’t more of an issue in the Presidential race. Both major party candidates are bona fide drug warriors. Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson have called for an end to the drug war, but unfortunately, candidates from outside the major parties have a difficult time getting noticed by major media outlets. I hope that changes, but in my experience news outlets tend to pretend that there are literally only two people on the ballot.

Most major media outlets also tend to treat legalization as if it is a crazy idea that is absolutely outside of serious discussion. The people behind Seattle Hempfest, meanwhile, have been working to change that. For just over two decades, volunteers have been holding “the world’s largest cannabis law reform event.” I’m not a cannabis user myself, but I am a concerned citizen who is distressed about the erosion of basic liberties, the crime, and the mass incarceration that the drug war has brought us.

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Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Samford University.
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