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When I first heard about libertarianism, it was usually discussed in the context of words like “marijuana” and “anarchy.”  I was convinced – as many still are convinced – that all libertarians were pot-smoking anarchists.  Now having become a libertarian (going so far as to become a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party), I can tell you that we are not marijuana-enthused anarchists … well, at least not all of us.

I used to blame the media for its implication that libertarianism and marijuana usage went hand-in-hand. Why did they focus so much on the issue of marijuana legalization when we have so much to say on other, equally if not more important topics? Lately I’ve started to see this focus as a positive thing, though. See, as a former right-wing conservative, I saw this topic as taboo, immoral, and illogical.  However, after reading and studying the issue, I found myself agreeing with the other side!

Once I saw the failed drug war for what it was – and once the government’s intentions in fighting that war became plain to me – it opened my eyes to see how much freedom our country is lacking and how the fight for liberty has been reduced to mere rhetoric.

It took the issue of marijuana for me to see that – to recognize that, as Americans, we simply do not have the freedoms we have been told are ours.

Though this topic holds a treasure trove of compelling data, I’m going to focus on a few keys things that really drive me crazy about prohibition. There is a plethora of information available, so I encourage you to do research and make your own judgment.

Anytime prohibition occurs, a black market is created. Black markets typically rely on violence to resolve issues. The prohibition of alcohol led to a spike in the homicide rate, as did the enactment of the war on drugs. Because the black market for drugs mostly supplies marijuana – it is safe to say ending the war on marijuana would prevent many unnecessary deaths.

Legalizing marijuana would make our towns safer and promote growth in areas that have previously become stagnant. I love what Milton Friedman had to say about this: “If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel.”

Around half of our nation’s inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses, with the vast majority of those being non-violent drug possession charges. It is estimated that around 50 percent of these inmates are imprisoned for either possession or selling/manufacturing marijuana. To summarize that thought, around a quarter of our prisoners are doing time over an issue that ultimately harms no one but the user.

I believe it is crucial that we get these people out of the government’s “care” and back into their own homes. Jails and prisons are funded by the government, which is funded by you and me. The police officers who do what is required of them to track and find these “criminals” have salaries – paid for by you and me. Every aspect of punishing this crime costs money, money that comes out of what we give to the government.

Lastly, though – and to me most importantly – our government is not our moral compass.

We are told so often about what we can and cannot do we begin to accept that government knows what’s best for us.  We all need to remember that this is an institution of immoral humans attempting to dictate “moral” behavior on the rest.

Government is out for its own gain, which includes making money and keeping the people in power rich and powerful.

This country was founded on the principle of protecting liberty, not hindering it. I think we can get back to that. I think we have to get back to that. It can start with repealing the laws on marijuana – one small step toward freedom – and grow from there.

Let’s do this. Let’s take our freedom back. Let’s get back to the ideals our country was founded upon.

alex thornton 003

Alex Thornton is a Libertarian who resides in Charleston, S.C. She’s a wife who takes pictures for a living, runs to relax and loves God, her husband and fighting to make the Palmetto State more competitive.