Sarah Palin and the Marijuana Legalization Debate

These comments from Sarah Palin last week are continuing to generate discussion:

“If we’re talking about pot, I’m not for the legalization of pot, because I think that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it and I’m not an advocate for that. However, I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts. And if somebody is going to smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and clean up some of the other problems we have in society that are appropriate for law enforcement to do and not concentrate on such a, relatively speaking, minimal problem that we have in the country.”

Mike Huckabee responded with a bizarre joke about Palin doing cocaine on TV, and Ryan McNeely has a good piece addressing the absurdity of defending marijuana laws while simultaneously asking that they not be enforced. Unfortunately, The Economist departed from its typically superb drug policy coverage with a strange defense of Palin’s remarks:

Basically, while Sarah Palin’s position on this issue, as on many others, is semi-deliberately incoherent, it is in this case a semi-deliberate incoherence that has proven to be effective policy in many countries, and I’m not even sure it’s the wrong stance on the issue.

The full argument is too rambling to quote (see for yourself), but the author’s point is that marijuana isn’t really even legal in the Netherlands, so maybe there’s no need to legalize here either. It might make sense if we didn’t have a massive blood-thirsty drug war army literally occupying our cities. Prohibition is a for-profit industry in America. It sustains itself through a vast campaign of propaganda and intimidation, and I doubt the solution is as simple as asking these guys to please calm down.

The warriors who invade private homes in bulletproof bodysuits and murder small dogs for having the audacity to bark at them are not responsive to pleas for a more measured enforcement model. That the law authorizes their actions is the go-to excuse when their machine guns go off prematurely, and until that changes, neither will anything else.

Nevertheless, the fact that Palin was able to create such a flurry of dialogue with a few casual comments is testament to her potency as an advocate for whatever half-measures she’s willing to stand for. And the fact that FOX News is now employing people who will keep posing these questions to prominent political figures is pretty cool, too.

Click “Read More” for the video. You also can read the article at CBSNews.

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