Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Legalizing Marijuana

Hakdama: Before I begin the bulk of this post, I want to share a story with you. I'll wait while you put on a sweater, change into loafers, and feed your fish. (...!!)

I was on a train recently, in California.
A young woman came over to me and asked if I was a registered voter in that county.
I was, so I told her I was! (Come on, Yos, get on with your story....)
She was trying to get signatures on two different petitions to get onto the November ballot.
The first was something that I still didn't understand even after reading the text of the proposition.
It was something about the following: Currently, the government owned different electric utilities, but they were being privatized. This was a petition to not allow the government to take public tax money to continue to fund these now private enterprises.
It wasn't really exactly that. It somehow only applied to territories not incorporated in cities, or something....
Anyway, the second thing she was getting signatures on was a proposition to legalize marijuana.
She told me that should I be against legalizing pot, I could still sign my name and address, because even if it got onto the ballot for a state-wide vote, I could always vote against it. With my address, she told me I had no worries of them sending me any brownies or green flowers. I forgot to mention also that there were a couple of young hoodlums on the train, who I was positive were doing drugs during the ride. I don't know what they were snorting, but I don't think it was anything a doctor would prescribe for clearing sinuses.

-I'm not going to tell you whether I signed it or not until the end of this post. Try to guess as you work you way through it-

There has been in the news recently how the current federal administration is relaxing the previous administration's policies on how the government should view state laws regarding medical marijuana.
And as you read in my story (unless you skipped it. I suggest you go back and read it. I'll wait.), many in California are trying to legalize it for the state, regardless of needing it for medicinal reasons.

I learned part of a farbrengen recently where the Rebbe said the following about Government (and this was not about legalizing any drugs. I'm just applying it, as you'll see):
Many people are of the opinion that what a person decides to do in his own private life is his own decision. If what he does is harmful to others, then the government needs to step in and protect its citizens. However, the government cannot interfere in a person's private affairs and decisions. If he chooses to do something that can be harmful for him, that is up to him. He has free choice.
The government, should it interfere, cannot be deemed a democracy, but is a dictatorship! The people that say this claim that these rights of the people are from the constitution, and those who advocate this, the Rebbe says, are the ones who receive medals for saving the people's rights, etc.

The Rebbe says that this is incorrect.
A normal government is one which protects its citizens, not just from harming each other, but from harming themselves, as well!!
(I'm using the old editor on blogger, which does not have underlining. The new editor does not have spell check. I figured that this was the better choice, so I'm sorry for the italics.)

Would you try to disagree with this? The Rebbe points out that from our government, which most would agree is built as a normal and democratic one, we can see this very idea.

The Food and Drug Administration is an organization that sees to it that different products on the market are safe to be consumed. If they feel that eating or drinking something could cause adverse side effects, they force companies to print labels on the container, making the person aware of these effects. Sometimes if it is too harmful for a person, the FDA will ban it completely. The U.S. spends lots of money to make sure this organization runs properly, and helps keep people safe.

The Rebbe brings yet another example for how really, deep down, the government and public do care to make sure a citizen does not do something harmful, even if only to himself.

When the people get wind of a situation where a person is standing on a bridge, thinking about jumping off into the river and committing suicide, chas v'shalom, nobody says, "Well, he can do what he wants with his life. Who are we to interfere with his own decisions?"
Instead, the police are mobilized, helicopters are sent out, and lots of money spent, all to convince this guy not to jump.
And when the police do successfully bring him down, they get medals!
So you see that people essentially do want and take an active role, in preventing harmful decisions that a person may make.

That, the Rebbe says, is what this government and any normal government is all about.
It should be the people that are advocating these ideas who receive medals, not those who preach for private lives and personal rights.

The Rebbe said this all regarding a different topic, but I feel that it can very well be used to speak about the topic at hand- legalizing marijuana.

There are those who claim that if somebody wants to take drugs, who are we to stop him, and why should we?

It is clearly up to the government to prevent this.

Normally, the liberal-minded mentality is for bigger government.
I wonder, though, if what's even more in the agenda of a liberal thinking person is to allow anyone who wants to lead his life exactly as he wants, as long as it does not interfere with those around him. So this would take precedence over the idea of bigger government. Government should stay out of this one.

But from the Rebbe's views, I think we can say that it is up to the government to keep narcotics illegal.

Epilogue: I did not sign her petition