In an article for the Heritage Foundation, Kevin Sabet argues, “marijuana legalization poses too many risks to public health and public safety.” Sabet points out that marijuana use can be dangerous, that average THC potency of marijuana has increased over the decades, that keeping marijuana illegal probably reduces the number of people using it, and like facts. (Several of his claims are debatable, but that’s a topic for another day.)

In his article, Sabet does not consider the harms of prohibiting marijuana, such as that it results in black market violence, it results in illegal street sales in which buyers of marijuana often cannot determine its purity or potency, and it encourages some people to substitute other drugs (including alcohol) for marijuana. Nor does Sabet consider that most people who use marijuana recreationally or for medicinal purposes do not violate the rights of others when doing so and do not inflict substantial harm on themselves by doing so.

But the fundamental debate is not whether marijuana is more harmful than other drugs, or whether (by whatever standard) the costs of prohibiting marijuana outweigh its benefits. The fundamental debate is whether consenting adults have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies and property, and whether government has a right to violate individual rights in the name of “public health” (or anything else). . . .

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