09 March 2006

Why drugs matter?

Some comments on the DPF blog have accused me and Libertarianz of going against the cause of overthrowing socialism because we want ACT to support legalisation of cannabis. This arises from Richard Worth’s rather pathetic attempt to attack Rodney Hide for being a supporter of legalising drugs (where, to be fair, it is never clear whether he is or isn’t). I think Worth is completely misguided, there are far bigger fish to fry for National in terms of attacking Labour – but he can’t get past Hide winning the seat off of him. It is petty, vindictive and utterly useless for National to attack ACT, since it virtually cannabilised most of its vote at the election anyway.
However, I did say that Hide brought it on himself by not expressing a clear view one way or the other on this. I want Rodney to support legalising cannabis, even if, for a start, for medical use on prescription. I think, deep down, this is what he truly believes. He wont even say that. It is critical to being a liberal party to believe adults have the right to decide what they do with their own bodies – The Economist two years ago advocated legalising drugs – so it is far from being a radical non-mainstream view.

However, this is what I got in return…

“You're a lefty pretending to be something else. Have to be. Nothing would make Helen Klark happier and be more likely to ensure her e-election than advocation of drug legalisation by ACT or the Nats. From a strategic point of view, its just an incredibly dumb idea. Success in politics and most things is down to timing.”

Well really? How would the Greens react? How many young urban voters would think ACT or National are perhaps no longer the reactionary party of conservatism? So politics are just about what the voters want, rather than challenging the status quo and questioning why the status quo doesn’t work?
Russell Brown got it in one though:

“Seems like a fairly standard National tactic: try and scare the horses by accusing your opponent of being soft on (a) drugs, (b) crime, (c) whatever. What I find a bit odd is the belief that Act conducts itself according to the principles of classical liberalism anyway. It would be a much more interesting party if it did.”

Indeed it would be. I would support ACT if it was consistent on freedom and liberty. This is not a matter of degree, whether tax is 10% or 20%, but whether or not adults own their own bodies and can control what they ingest. No freedom is more important than that.

You can get your taxes back, run your business how you want, but get arrested for taking a puff of cannabis. ACT would probably gain support if it came out in favour of legalising cannabis - Lindsay Perigo did get several thousand votes in Epsom when he stood in 1996 - on that platform. National wont run with it, but it could be supported by an ACT party that took votes from the liberal left to the liberal right.

That, of course, is not as important as the debate - why does the state own your body?

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