Why Pot Legalization Is the Most Important Issue Before Voters This Election Day

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch
Huffington Post

Forget about what’s happening in the partisan battle for control of Congress and statehouses across the country. The single-most important issue that will be decided on November 2 is California’s Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would legalize the cultivation, consumption, and sale of marijuana and allow municipalities to regulate and tax the stuff.

Though limited to voters in a single state, Prop. 19 is the only policy matter on the table with the potential to restructure the lives of virtually all Americans. If Prop. 19 passes, it will force, at long bloody last, an honest reconsideration of failed prohibitionist policies throughout the United States. In fact, given the drug war’s influence on our foreign policy in Latin America and central Asia, Prop. 19’s reverberations would even be felt far outside our borders.

Despite overt similarities to liquor prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war actually functions more like the Cold War used to. It’s an almost-hidden, infrequently debated structuring device that affects every aspect of American politics, culture, and society. Just as Cold War anxieties transformed educational priorities and politicized everything from the Olympics to fluoridated drinking water, the drug war is everywhere with us. The same schools that plead poverty in teaching basic literature or math still all find time and money for D.A.R.E. and other drug-education classes, despite iffy results. Video games, public-service announcements, and even urinal-cake holders in men’s rooms still implore us to just say no. Some 40 million workplace drug tests are administered each year, and even legal prescription drugs are getting some employees fired.

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Can Legalizing Marijuana Save California, Our Republic? 

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