December 14, 2013

"Starting early next year, any adult with a craving or curiosity will be able to stroll into a strip mall or downtown shop in Colorado or Washington State and do what has long been forbidden..."

"... buy a zip-lock bag of legal marijuana."

No, not any adult. Only adults who think federal law that isn't being enforced still counts as law and who feel bound to follow the law. And, I, for one, feel that this discrimination against us rule-followers is unfair. Why are we — of all people — the last to be free?

I am the person who — when the fences were torn down at Woodstock and the hippies were declaring "It's a free concert now" — would have respected the rights of the landowners and the concert promoters.

If something is to be legal, make it truly legal, or explain to me why there is some special reason to fence out those who still believe in order.

48 comments:

southcentralpa said...

Wow, so how much do you hate all the extralegal delays in Obamacare ...

Sofa King said...

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

Freder Frederson said...

I wish you were as concerned about Federal laws banning torture as you are about marijuana laws.

rhhardin said...

Zip lock bags have been made illegal.

Ask for paper.

john said...

Consider, for example, the strangely altered new role of the police, who in Washington are required to make sure all marijuana is of the legal, state-licensed variety. That could make for more crackdowns on illegal grow-and-sale operations, not fewer...

In Seattle last August I listened to a radio interview of some of the so-called pot-legalization leaders pleading for the long arm of the state to crack some heads and bust those criminals who grow and harvest their own weed; thereby threatening their profitable state-created monopolistic enterprise, backed by public-funded goon squads (state police).

It's not about pot legalization, and never has been.

Lucien said...

Will you feel the same way about employers who do not comply with the employer mandate, since it is a "federal law that is not being enforced"? Or those who tolerate illegal aliens?

Shouting Thomas said...

I lived across the street from Mike Lang, the owner of the Woodstock Festivals, for a decade. He lives in a faux castle and is doing very well.

The decision to stop collecting tickets and tear down the fences at the original festival was the best decision Mike ever made. He hasn't worked a day since.

Just a year ago, the Old Dawgz played on the site of the 1969 festival at what is now called "Bethel Woods."

I've always thought it was a good idea to ignore the rules until I could think of a damned good reason to follow them. Gotta be a song in there.

Ann Althouse said...

"The decision to stop collecting tickets and tear down the fences at the original festival was the best decision Mike ever made."

That doesn't answer the question raised in the post. No one in the street at the time the fences came down could understand the decision or Mike's future or any of that. You have to take the perspective of the individual who respects law and order and who is presented with the option of violating what are understood at the time to be the rules. You're simply failing to do that. You are resorting to the weirdly illogical realm of reason based on the fact that you happen to know some guy, as if your personal access to related information affects the question. It doesn't!

Now, if you want to put together some larger argument about why rules should not be followed because we are better off somehow when people figure out what rules selectively to decline to follow, you need to make a principled, abstract argument. That argument could refer to the guy that lived across the street to you, but much more is needed.

Ann Althouse said...

And if your argument is the rules are for other people, I've heard that one.

Meade said...

"Only adults who think federal law that isn't being enforced still counts as law and who feel bound to follow the law. And, I, for one, feel that this discrimination against us rule-followers is unfair. Why are we — of all people — the last to be free?"

When the President does it, that means it is not illegal, it doesn't still count as law, and you should not feel bound.

Oh wow! Set yourself free, man. 'ere.

Shouting Thomas said...

And if your argument is the rules are for other people, I've heard that one.

Yes, but have you ever met somebody for whom that argument is true?

Allow me to introduce myself...

garage mahal said...

When the President does it, that means it is not illegal, it doesn't still count as law, and you should not feel bound.

I've noticed the Walker cultists are real squishes when it comes to enforcing Wisconsin laws.

rehajm said...

When the President does it, that means it is not illegal, it doesn't still count as law, and you should not feel bound.

Exactly what fans of the Faithful Execution Clause believes to be untrue. No dispensations or suspensions...

Lance said...

Any adult with a craving

I thought ganja wasn't supposed to be addicting?

Diogenes of Sinope said...

In this case I think a large percentage of people aren't aware of the legal conflicts. In general Politicians want the public confused by contradictory, incomprehensible, impracticable laws. These laws give government much more power over the public, "Three Felonies A Day".

EDH said...

John said...
In Seattle last August I listened to a radio interview of some of the so-called pot-legalization leaders pleading for the long arm of the state to crack some heads and bust those criminals who grow and harvest their own weed; thereby threatening their profitable state-created monopolistic enterprise, backed by public-funded goon squads (state police).

But I suppose states never ever had to rely on Wickard v. Filburn.

I've always thought herbal autarky should be at the forefront of any liberalization of marijuana laws.

themightypuck said...

This isn't exactly anarchy. A sovereign has a different law than the federation as a whole. This isn't the same as individually choosing to follow or not follow a law. Plus, I'm sure there are tons of laws on the books of many states that are archaic and unenforced that even autistic level rule followers ignore.

SGT Ted said...

Marijuana is illegal only because of junk science, corporate lobbying and press fueled racism in the 1930s.

Unjust laws are made to be broken by Free Men and Women.

The recent pot legalizations is an excellent example of the people leading and taking over where the hired staff (the politicians and law enforcement), has failed.

They failed because they chose to believe and support easy lies, instead of the hard, uncomfortable truth about pot.

Oso Negro said...

Ann, I am sorry for you. I, too, prefer the idea that the United States of America is a nation of laws. Unlike you, my mourning for the passing of that state of affairs is done. The only interesting question to me is whether people will ever revolt over it. History teaches us that it is possible, but a look around at my fellow citizens tells me that it is unlikely. As Nancy Pelosi so eloquently said, "embrace the suck."

Fernandinande said...

Only adults who think federal law that isn't being enforced still counts as law and who feel bound to follow the law.

The federal law is unconstitutional.

cyrus83 said...

Why do you assume that rule-followers have less freedom than rule-breakers? Sure, breaking the law offers more choices initially, but eventually, there's usually a freedom cost to pay on the back end with choices that are no longer available thanks to the law breaking.

Eustace Chilke said...

We're in a transitional phase that ends in rules by decree. A thin disguise is all that remains of rule of law. In this phase the oligarchs will pretend, for a while longer, that laws matter in a kind of back-handed way by gradually increasing the practice of setting certain laws aside. By decree. Criminally enforcable regulation is already most of the law and is made, more or less openly, by decree. They'll dispense with dissembling soon enough.

Shouting Thomas said...

The quota systems led me to my outlaw status.

All the clever explanations about why I, a poor white boy, was supposed to take it up the ass for the betterment of women, blacks and gays taught me utter contempt for the law.

Once I realized that the law was just an excuse to fuck me over, I told the law to go fuck itself.

It's worked out well for me.

SGT Ted said...

"Order" based on lies designed to manufacture a problem to justify passing a law isn't a morally defensible position.

Marshal said...

Ann Althouse said...
That doesn't answer the question raised in the post. No one in the street at the time the fences came down could understand the decision or Mike's future or any of that. You have to take the perspective of the individual who respects law and order and who is presented with the option of violating what are understood at the time to be the rules.


This doesn't answer the question in the post either. Answering that question requires you to focus on the motives of the rule setters. Rules setters view their job as preventing x or y outcome, which generally requires two or more people / events from mixing. In that circumstance they don't care who is right or wrong, they only care about preventing the combination. So they choose the easier group to control.

Our government is always screwing the responsible people in favor of others simply because they can. Otherwise they'd have to admit they're impotent.

n.n said...

Tax it into submission.

SGT Ted said...

All the clever explanations about why I, a poor white boy, was supposed to take it up the ass for the betterment of women, blacks and gays taught me utter contempt for the law.

Once I realized that the law was just an excuse to fuck me over, I told the law to go fuck itself.


This. Unjust laws are made to be broken and should be held with the contempt they deserve.

madAsHell said...

Allow me to introduce myself...
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith

harrogate said...

Shouting Thomas talks about what a badass as what a rebel he is an awful lot, doesn't he? "look how edgy and rule-breaky I am!", he says in every single comment.

Truly a legend in his own mind.

Ann Althouse said...

"Shouting Thomas talks about what a badass as what a rebel he is an awful lot, doesn't he? "look how edgy and rule-breaky I am!", he says in every single comment. Truly a legend in his own mind."

Ha ha. It makes me think of this.

Jupiter said...

While I don't believe it is a general solution to the problem you are discussing, my narrow ruling in this case is that when you violate a trespassing law, you also violate the rights of another person, and that person is easy to identify. When you pay someone to give you some marijuana he has grown, where is the victim?

As a law professor, you of course have a strong interest in the law being enforced and respected. If people obey the laws, then you are an engineer, with your hands on the levers that control the train we all are riding. If the law is a powerless ghost, then you are a tedious mime, pressing her hands against the sides of an invisible box.

cubanbob said...

"No, not any adult. Only adults who think federal law that isn't being enforced still counts as law and who feel bound to follow the law. And, I, for one, feel that this discrimination against us rule-followers is unfair. Why are we — of all people — the last to be free?"

You are making an argument to sunset all laws and regulations that are not routinely and objectively enforced. I like it.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Any adult on a waiting list for an organ transplant better think twice about indulging, regardless of legality. Recreational drug use will get you kicked off in a heartbeat.

EDH said...

Recreational drug use will get you kicked off in a heartbeat.

Is that to say marijuana use, if "medicinal", won't get you kicked off?

Sofa King said...

History teaches us that it is possible, but a look around at my fellow citizens tells me that it is unlikely. As Nancy Pelosi so eloquently said, "embrace the suck."

This is not a new question: "...[A]ll experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

Smilin' Jack said...

Only adults who think federal law that isn't being enforced still counts as law and who feel bound to follow the law.

Federal law is the product of lawbreaking treasonous scum. Real rule-followers still feel bound to pay back tea taxes to Britain.

Basil said...

How about a rule that says anyone who buys pot is excluded from welfare. Why do I have to pay for some stoner to waste his/her life in an altered state?

The libertarian dopers are no longer so libertarian when it comes to welfare limits for dopers.

Will Cate said...

The same goes for any other vice a welfare recipient might be wasting my tax dollars to purchase.

Smilin' Jack said...

I am the person who — when the fences were torn down at Woodstock and the hippies were declaring "It's a free concert now" — would have respected the rights of the landowners and the concert promoters.

That had nothing to do with federal law. You are the person who would have turned in Dred Scott.

Gahrie said...

You have to take the perspective of the individual who respects law and order and who is presented with the option of violating what are understood at the time to be the rules

This reasoning didn't work at Nurenburg, and it is just as absurd now.

The whole ethos of your generation is about rejecting norms, violating laws and doing what feels good.

Gahrie said...


As a law professor, you of course have a strong interest in the law being enforced and respected.


Unless of course, she disagrees wityh the law...cough Proposition 8 cough

ken in sc said...

Althouse is saying that those who follow the rules are being cheated by those who don't. It does not matter if the rules are fair or right. Those who don't follow them should be punished. Those who do should be rewarded. I don't remember what this is called. I forget a lot of things I used to know. I think Thomas Jefferson said something about it...”if it does not break my leg..” seems to ring a bell.

Ann Althouse said...

It's from Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia":

"But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Ann Althouse said...

So, ideally, there should be far fewer rules. If the rules should not be there, they should be taken away. It's not fair to those who believe in the rules to be stuck following what others disregard. It's a distinction between 2 sets of people that puts a burden on those who are punctilious. Why do this to these people?

To expect everyone to just start picking the laws that ought to be disregarded… at least state that as a freedom that is itself a rule: Give me the right to disregard rules that others are already disregarding with impunity.

Smilin' Jack said...

If I smoke weed it neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg. So what's your problem?

eric said...

I'm not sure what you're getting at here, Althouse.

In some States, Abortion is still illegal. Are you upset that there are a bunch of law breakers in those States who are getting abortions?

Federal law is what it is. Just because a state saw abortion is illegal, doesn't make it illegal. Just because a state says Marijuana is legal, doesn't make it legal.

In all states there are law breakers.

What's the problem?

Gahrie said...

So, ideally, there should be far fewer rules

Amen sister.

To expect everyone to just start picking the laws that ought to be disregarded

Again, that is a legacy from your generation.

Just out of curiosity...do you trust anyone over 30 today?

Larry Nelson said...

Freder Frederson said...
I wish you were as concerned about Federal laws banning torture as you are about marijuana laws.


Well Freder, some wish you were as concerned about Federal immigration laws as you are about laws banning torture.


So are we a nation of laws, period?
I thought of all the presidents we've ever had, the progressive choom disciple would show some sanity in the war on drugs and not enforce federal marijuana laws in states the have legalized it in some way. His justice department has been aggressive in California. What's up with that?

More thoughts:
Has congress ever spent time rescinding antiquated laws? How many federal laws are on the books now? Who can keep up?