Oppose Marijuana Legalization in Washington

Essays on technology, psycho­analysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek


May 3, 2010

Oppose Marijuana Legalization in Washington

The ACLU of Washington refuses to endorse I-1068, a Washington state ballot initiative to legalize Marijuana (ACLU statement here), because it doesn’t include provision for regulation and taxation similar to alcohol and tax. Sensible Washington’s reply is something about “complex Federal preemption” which I’m not sure I buy - doesn’t California have the same problem?

The problem is that this initiative is basically a libertarian anti-big government bill. More than just wanting legalization, they also want to send the message “The government has no right to tell me what to do!” Because the truth is, the most effective messaging for a legalization bill is something like “Marijuana smokers are getting off on their vice, doing whatever they like! [Image of stoner stereotype]. Send them a message this November, make them pay their own way, just like gamblers, drinkers and cigarette smokers!” California is sort of doing this, their official advocacy group says “Control & Tax Cannabis California 2010!”

This is the way to go, but the original authors of California’s medical marijuana initiative are actually protesting this. Jack Herer at HempStalk Festival 2009: “I don’t want to fking give the United States government one fking dollar of taxes.”

Isn’t this type of sentiment ultimately the reason we don’t have a public option in the health care bill? It’s all very well for progressives to castigate centrist Democrats for selling out to corporate interests, but as it turns out, the progressive grass roots (at least among the supporters of marijuana legalization) don’t really believe, as Obama says, that government can be part of the solution. On many issues, progressives turn out to be Reaganites, wanting a government that governs least, and this strikes me as a huge problem. It’s clear that we need more regulation and government action, and we blame conservatives and corporate interests for standing in the way. But maybe we progressives are the ones standing in our own way. If we can’t come up with principled reasons to support government regulation amongst ourselves over our own issues, how can we expect convince anyone else about theirs?

For these reasons, every good progressive should refuse to sign the I-1068 petition, and vote against it if it gets on the ballot.