National Review’s Jim Geraghty passes on an interesting comparison by Ace of Spades:
People will hate me for saying this, but I think the gun-grabbers are similar to the pot prohibitionists in one way.
That way is this: Essentially both impulses come from distrusting a specific population. There is distaste for a culture, and distrust.
The gun-grabbers think that ordinary citizens with no criminal history will become kill-crazy madmen if they carry a gun.
This is because they generally find rural people and conservatives distasteful, and dislike their culture, and oppose their culture.
Similarly, people who insist on keeping pot illegal have distaste for potheads, and do not like the pot culture, and distrust pot smokers
Either of these distrusts/dislikes is permissible; people can have their own opinions. But cultural disdain should not have the force of law.
Geraghty and Ace both point out one major difference: Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, whereas marijuana has no constitutional protection. (Alcohol is sort of protected given that the 21st Amendment eliminated the 18th Amendment, which started Prohibition.)
But the similarities are certainly there. To stereotype for a moment, liberals seem to believe that gun-owners are wild-eyed mouth-breathers who would blow away an entire room full of people upon the first flash of temper. Non-libertarian conservatives seem to believe that pot-smokers are lazy, ambition-free lumps of flesh, or that if you smoke one joint, you’ll be mainlining heroin, freebasing and/or manufacturing methamphetamine tomorrow.
Regular readers know that, as a never-user, I am skeptical of claims of marijuana’s benefits and harm. The claim that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs is more likely an observation about the user than the substance. Those who claim marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed need to explain why the experience with tobacco, where higher taxes have led to a black market in tobacco, should be duplicated.
If we took personal freedom and personal responsibility more seriously as a society, this would not be a controversial subject. Instead, we have the steadily growing nanny state, in which the founding principle is that anything that is not specifically allowed is prohibited.