I have written before on the sinfulness of recreational marijuana use. In an appendix to Future Men, entitled “Liberty and Marijuana,” I argued that the one use for alcohol that is prohibited in Scripture is a condition remarkably similar to the effects of marijuana — and to the extent that there is a distinction between being drunk and being stoned, marijuana is demonstrably worse. For more detailed argumentation on that issue, I refer you to that place. So it is a sin to get stoned.
At the same time, I have also repeatedly urged us to remember the distinction between sins and crimes. Not everything that is sinful ought to be against the law. Granted that marijuana use is sinful — although many Christians today are muddled enough to not understand that — ought it to remain against the law? I believe so.
Now I say this acknowledging that many of our current penalties for pot use have been draconian, and I believe that our “war on drugs” has been an over-reaching and very expensive joke. So in what I am arguing here, I am not urging us to maintain the status quo. At some other time, I might outline what I think the appropriate penalties might be. But for now I am interested in the politics of weed, from the vantage point of free citizens who are now on defense.
In the current climate, the way weed is being decriminalized, what we are seeing is not an expansion of personal choice, but rather a transfer of personal choice away from responsible citizens and to irresponsible ones. This is what I mean.
Suppose an employer does not want to employ potheads –whether they got their pot from a licensed retail outlet in Colorado, or from that guy in the park. The employer doesn’t care where the weed came from, he cares where the THC went. And where it went was into the body of this person who is supposed to be doing a job, a job that the employer believes (rightly) will be affected negatively by the pot.
Assume that the employer is not simply exercising irrational bigotries, but has sound reasons for his concern about likely impairment. He has a factory full of very expensive and high-precision equipment. Or he is a hospital administrator writing standards for the neurosurgeons. Or he hires airline pilots who fly passengers around the country. That pilot may be at 30,000 feet now, but that is nothing compared to where he was last weekend. Everybody fine with that? The fact that it was a Rocky Mountain legal high does not improve the safety considerations.
Before someone is tempted to dismiss this as me trying to peddle some sort of “reefer madness” thing, it is a simple medical fact that THC stays in the system. It does not do what alcohol does, which is to disappear. But whether the medical science on this is settled or not, if we were truly concerned about personal choice, we would make sure that responsible private citizens had a basis for protecting themselves and their businesses according to their own lights before doing anything like decriminalizing pot.
Anybody who thinks that the inevitable clashes that are coming between bosses and potheads are going to be decided in favor of the bosses . . . is a person who hasn’t been paying attention recently.
Principled libertarianism could argue for legal pot, and argue with equal vigor for the right of employers to sack employers for smoking dope. But the shift that our culture is going through on this and related issues is driven by licentiousness masquerading as libertarianism. And licentiousness is an approach that wants to push all the pleasure buttons in the brain, and to do so in a way that minimizes the consequences and ramifications for having done so. Since some of those consequences will naturally involve employment, one of the first things that will happen with this is that personal choice will be taken away from employers.
So we are not seeing an expansion of freedom. We are seeing it wither.