Two social developments are about to collide — for our good?
First up, the relaxing of the Drug War approach, at least against marijuana use.
The Drug War didn’t work. Increased drug use, even in prisons, suggests there was something fundamentally wrong with the strategy.
With medical marijuana legalized in 19 states, and near-complete decriminalization in Washington and Colorado, we will see what happens when the black market is cut out of the social picture. Will people become less responsible? More? Will there be little change?
The worst thing about drug use is incitement to violence; the second worst thing is decreasing personal responsibility, perhaps especially relating to automobile usage. Marijuana’s violence-promotion seems completely a factor of the black market. But, like alcohol mis-use, marijuana imbibing can impair motor functions, and lead to traffic accidents, even fatal ones. That’s quite bad.
How to control this?
Well, Washington State’s decriminalization law, I-502, had built in a THC indicator for inebriation: the “five nanogram rule.” Alas, evidence suggests it’s, well, the wrong number. Too extreme, too picky, too low, as Jacob Sullum reports at Reason.
Obviously, how to incentivize good driving and responsible drug use, and dis-incentivize reckless driving and drug abuse, will continue to be a problem.
Still, a second social development may provide a long-term alleviation of the problem: driverless cars. The successes of the Google self-driving prototypes, and the legal preparation for this, may soon provide a real and safe alternative to inebriates driving around helter skelter.
Progress comes in unexpected ways.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.