Arizona has an initiative process whereby citizens can get a proposition on the ballot for voters to approve. If the citizens approve the proposition, it becomes law. Elected officials are allegedly elected to “serve the people” they represent. It sounds great! However, in practice, things aren’t always as they appear.
When it comes to marijuana, some of our elected officials are confused about who they represent. When proposition 200 was passed in 1996, it deleted the prison option for first time marijuana users and mandated drug counseling instead. Despite the obvious common sense in the voter-approved initiative, the Arizona legislature effectively invalidated it. The voters had to effectively pass it again. Despite the drug war apologists’ warnings, the sky didn’t fall. Indeed, it has been good for Arizona, and it was a small step in the right direction.
This time, Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana. Despite this fact, it seems both Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery are doing everything they can to thwart the will of the very people they were elected to represent. Both of these elected officials, who have each loudly voiced their personal support for the failed war on drugs, have run to the courts in an attempt to apparently enforce their personal views rather than represent the will of the people.
Despite the will of the voters, and despite court rulings against them by Judge Susan Bolton in the federal court and Judge Michael Gordon in the state court, these elected officials continue to waste tax payer funds by continuing their court battles to appellate courts. It all begs the question, “Who do they represent?” It also begs the question, “Why would Arizona voters retain elected officials who so blatantly work contrary to the clear will of the people?”
From what I’ve seen, I don’t expect Governor Jan Brewer to ever understand or respect the rights of peaceful competent adults to control their own bodies. She seems to me hopelessly enmeshed in the old school failed politics of the extreme religious right wing stuffy big brother conservative crowd. However, County Attorney Bill Montgomery seems much brighter. I am hopeful he could someday repent for his past sins and join the new emerging Rand Paul type Republicans who promote freedom and actually desire strictly limited government. Admittedly, Mr. Montgomery is off to a bad start.
However, the drug war is destined to end. It was a horribly un-American idea in the first place. Shockingly, it exists despite the relatively recent and clear lessons of alcohol prohibition, but it will die for exactly the same reasons. It has already started. Now, lots of states have medical marijuana and two states have legalized marijuana possession for all purposes. More states will surely follow. The sky isn’t going to fall. Indeed, honest statistics and observations will undoubtedly reveal countless benefits.
The time we live in is exciting for lots of reasons. Given that the drug war is going to end, pro-freedom people have a great opportunity to make the case for freedom. Rather than arguing the obvious economic and practical benefits of ending the drug war, we have an opportunity to argue for real self-ownership. We will soon have a great opportunity to argue that free and competent adults own themselves, and therefore must be free to peacefully use or abuse their own bodies as they wish. I realize a real free society can be scary, but freedom is worth it. SAYING you are for a free society is easy; actually BEING for a free society is much harder.
Hopefully, Mr. Montgomery will soon be out of court options in his misguided quest to thwart the will of those he represents. Undoubtedly, like other states, Arizona will likely soon have an initiative to legalize marijuana possession for all purposes. Eventually, I expect it will become law.
Instead of working against the will of the people and for failed programs, Mr. Montgomery should use his prosecutorial discretion to protect the public. After all, that is his job. As the elected Maricopa County Attorney, Mr. Montgomery should dedicate all prosecutorial resources of his office to prosecuting people who actually hurt and trespass against others. He could prosecute crimes that actually have victims instead of prosecuting people for fake crimes that involve no victims at all. Such an effort is actually consistent with the will of those he represents, and would have the greatest positive impact on the safety of Maricopa County residents. Indeed, diverting precious resources away from prosecuting dangerous and violent people so non-violent marijuana smokers, growers, transporters, and sellers can be prosecuted is ridiculous.
Instead of working against the will of the people, Arizona’s elected officials could actually take the lead and advocate for freedom instead of against it. Especially given all the well-deserved bad press Arizona has garnered over the immigration issue, we could benefit from being a respected national leader on ending the disastrous drug war.
I have lived in Arizona since 1989, and I love so much about our state. Instead of being at the tail end or even in the middle of the pack of states eventually moving to end the foolish drug war, let’s be a leader and do it for all the right pro-freedom pro-American reasons!
By Marc Victor