It took 45 years after the 1933 termination of the United States government’s alcohol prohibition for the US government to legalize beer home brewing and, then, another 35 years until in 2013 the last two American states legalized home brewing. In comparison, of the ten states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, only the Washington state government prohibits home growing of marijuana, and for years the US government has backed off from prosecuting people complying with the liberalized state marijuana laws.
In this way, freedom is being recognized more quickly under marijuana legalization than it was under alcohol legalization. But, the number of states that include prohibition of home grow in their laws generally ending marijuana prohibition may increase. In particular, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing marijuana legalization that includes, consistent with a recently revealed request from some large marijuana companies, a ban on home grow.
One area where ending marijuana prohibition is progressing with much less respect for freedom is the legal ability to buy and use marijuana in a variety of places. Under legalization, people have been denied the ability to legally purchase marijuana products at bars and restaurants. The sale of marijuana products also remains prohibited at other places where alcoholic beverages are sold, such as at grocery stores and convenience stores, as well as at special events including concerts, sport competitions, and fairs.
Proponents of marijuana legalization often say that marijuana use is less harmful than alcohol use. This argument was the focus of a series of bus-side advertisements funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, for example, in its 2013 effort to encourage people to vote in favor of an ultimately approved marijuana ballot measure in Portland, Maine. Yet, individuals in states with legal recreational marijuana have less options for where they can purchase and consume marijuana legally than they do in regard to beer or even liquor.
Ending marijuana prohibition in a state or at the national level is an important accomplishment. But, as with the ending of alcohol prohibition, there afterward remain more actions that can be taken to further expand government’s respect for freedom. Hopefully, many of those actions will be taken in a time period measured in months or even a few years instead of several decades.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.