Cost-benefit analysis – legalizing cannabis

South Dakota is again facing a ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. The sides are again drawn very starkly, and the propaganda flow is immense.

The Family Heritage Alliance and South Dakota Protecting Kids (SDPK) are two organizations fighting a increasingly lost battle, again. South Dakota voters approved an earlier ballot issue but legal errors saw it repealed The FHA article, at the above link, is a compelling argument that recreational MJ legalization will create significant problems, especially for children in South Dakota.

As far as we here at TPOL can tell, the facts that they present are correct and accurate. The conclusions that they draw are reasonable, reasoned, and likely to happen. Ready availability of marijuana does have significant potential health impacts (both physical and mental) on teens and children. Given our current medical system (and SD is expected to also pass an initiative to greatly expand Medicaid and get all that wonderful “free” FedGov money), there will likely be significant increases in medical costs, an increase in highway (and other) accidents, and other problems.


What FHA and SDPK does not consider and present in their propaganda is the other side of the coin. The current situation in South Dakota and other states has worse effects than legalizing the stuff has.

Let me explain.

These problems with SD teens and children already exist: while there may be an uptick in teen use and impact on young children, it is not an entirely new phenomenon. The damage already exists, growing worse and worse. The legalization of cannabis would not “add” marijuana to the mix of suicide, mental illness, child abuse and other problems. It is already part of the mix.

In this, cannabis is no different than beverage alcohol or tobacco. Or for that matter, high-calorie sugary drinks, candy, and snack foods. While there are differences in the degree of impact – negative impact – on children, the kind of impacts is the same. And not just on children and teens. Obesity. Dental problems. Mental illness. Long-term and short-term medical effects.

Prohibition which is effective, safe, and does not destroy the God-given rights of people, is impossible. This was proven a century ago by Alcohol Prohibition. The inability of government or communities to prevent the growing, processing, distribution, and consumption of marijuana, like booze before it, is well documented over nearly a century of attempts to do so.

The consequences of prohibition are severe. Not just in terms of governmental power, violence, secondary crime, loss of rights, but also in terms of consumption and product quality. I suspect that one reason for the great increase of potency of cannabis in the last half-century is a DIRECT result of increased attempts to prohibit it: the War on Some Drugs.

Like many government edicts, the unintended consequences (real ones, not the motivation to make the edict which is hidden from others) can be severe, damaging, and actually defeat the (claimed) purpose of the action. The need for secrecy, the lack of anything other than violence as a way to solve conflicts in production, distribution, and sales, and many other problems emphasize the need for certain characteristics to address those problems. High levels of active ingredients do that. And where low levels might be tolerable by most people, higher concentrations make it likely that there will be more affects on certain people.

That of course, is really a rather minor impact on society – perhaps comparable to the difference between high alcohol content beverages and those with less alcohol.

The real impacts on society have been the police state imposed to fight the War on Some Drugs, and the violence resulting from government denying access to peaceful interactions, coupled with constant consumer demand. Indeed, not just steady, but increasing as people try to cope with the stresses of modern life and how they are treated by those in power, including so-called influencers and the teaching profession.

It is not a vicious circle but a steady slide downward.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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4 Responses to Cost-benefit analysis – legalizing cannabis

  1. pigpen51 says:

    I can see the libertarian ideal of having no license by the government at all. If a private group wishes to certify that someone has followed their recommended accreditation methods, and passed certain standards, fine. But the government should have no hand in that.
    If a doctor wishes to hang out a shingle, and begin doctoring, why not? If he or she does a good job, great, let people go to them through word of mouth. If they cause harm, or even death, then they of course should be held accountable, just like anyone else would be.
    It really is simple. Freedom means free. Coca Cola used to put actual coca leaves or extract in their beverage, and it didn’t cause any harm, that has been proven. It only stopped due to either government rules, or bad press. You used to be able to buy cough syrup over the counter with cocaine in it, but now you have to get a prescription. I have not had a doctor in over 20 years who will prescribe that, no matter how bad my cough. And I had the flu a few years ago, that was really bad. My doctor called me in those liquid filled pearls, that don’t do a damn thing.
    The problem is, at least as far as libertarianism goes, and from what I can see, it is that people are afraid to have real, actual freedom. I think that they are afraid to actually be responsible for themselves. A lot of them like to be told what to do, and when to do it. And they are happy to pay taxes to let the government tell them when they can do things, and when they can’t. What kind of guns they can own, and where they can possess them.
    The bitch of it is I was once like that, to a certain extent, but my eyes were opened, every single time the feds executed one more patriot, for the crime of showing contempt of the government. Ruby Ridge, Waco, Lavoy Finecum? They all did nothing other than to show me that no matter who you are, or what you have or have not done, if you stick up on their radar, they will get you. The most recent one, is that here in my state, Michigan. The so called plot to kidnap the Empress of Lansing. When you have a gathering of half a dozen men, and you and a buddy are the only two you recognize, but the rest keep pushing the idea of kidnapping the governor, and hey, I know where I can get some bomb making stuff, you better walk, no run, away, as fast as you can, because you can be damn sure that at least a couple of them are working for the feds, in order to get out of some jam they got into.
    Always remember that freedom begins in your own mind, and with your own self. Sometimes you have to separate from others who might endanger you or drag you into something that you don’t need. With the way things are now, it is always a good thing to remain constantly on alert for danger because the world is a bad place.


  2. Darkwing says:

    When all drugs are made legal and the government tells people, if you do drugs you take care of yourself, we will not be there for you, I have no problem. BUT that will never happen. The government will take my tax money and bail these AW out.


  3. pigpen51 says:

    There is actually a lot to unpack here. Here in Michigan, we passed recreational a few years ago, to go with our medical marijuana law. But of course, it didn’t come without the government wanting to be involved with it, in order to pick winners and losers, as well as collect the ever popular tax money.
    I come from a very small town, in a very poor county and township in Michigan, but have lived the last half of my 62 years in a larger city, where I spent my working life. So I have only followed the issue of recreational marijuana in my former area via social media. But there is an ongoing fight, to who will be allowed to have additional growing permits in the township, or even how many more permits will be issued. It was put to a vote in the last election, but some people were mad, so they put it up again, with a petition.
    The other thing that concerns me is the issue of pain control and the government war on some drugs. I am on disability due to near daily migraines and a back that I broke at the age of 20, in a serious car accident. After a lifetime of manual labor in a steel melt shop, I finally am not able to work, due to both conditions. I was using opioids as prescribed by my doctor, for pain control, getting 30 norco pills per month. I told him that I was using them up in 2 weeks, and so it was decided that I am a drug seeker, and now I am stuck using tylenol for pain control.
    I have had migraines for over 40 years, and have tried pretty much everything. I am seeing a neurologist who has me on a number of new medications, that have helped me go from around 5 decent days per month to perhaps 8-10 decent days a month. But the bad days are still bad, and he doesn’t believe in using opioids for migraines. So I am pretty much stuck. He did prescribe one of the new medications, that my insurance company would not pay for. My wife wanted me to try it, and my copay was over 500 dollars. It didn’t work, so I was out that money, and have no abortive for migraines.
    There was a medicenter that had a doctor who would treat migraines with opioids. What happened? The government shut him down, and took his medical license. And all those who counted on his clinic? No doubt some of them are using illegal drugs from someplace, to cope with their pain. How many of them are now hooked on much more dangerous drugs, because of the ever helpful government intrusion into their lives?


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      This ties in with another commentary we are planning to publish soon here at TPOL: the dangers and follies of government licensing is a deadly situation: not just in medical fields (although we point out that Tom Woods is tracking the punishment of medical professions for their views and statements regarding both COVID-19 and pain medications). Engineering and a dozen other professions are being severely damaged – and people are denied essential services – because of the political nature of licensing and increasing micromanagement by politicians and bureaucrats.

      Liked by 1 person

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