Recent Headline: “Fentanyl Deaths Grow by the Year!” Of course. And why is that? Simply and directly stated, because of our nation’s failed policy of Drug Prohibition. As you probably know, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is mostly smuggled into our country from Mexico, but it is usually about 80 to 100 times stronger than the drug it is replacing. So Mexican cartels add it to their illicit drugs because it is much less expensive to produce than the heroin or other opioids that it replaces. Of course, as with all presently illicit drugs, there is no quality control. So when the users take the same amount of their drug that they did yesterday, but this time, unknowingly to the user, it contains fentanyl, they overdose because of the increased strength. A natural result, but totally preventable. (Virtually no one would knowingly put fentanyl into their bodies!)

Think of it this way: when our country finally came to its senses and repealed Alcohol Prohibition the visits to emergency rooms because of poisoned liquor virtually dropped to zero.  Why?  Because there is quality control and truth in labeling with regulated and controlled substances.  But since there is so much money to be made by selling illicit drugs, no matter how many people are arrested and jailed, there are always more people waiting in line to take their places.  That is why marijuana has been the largest cash crop in California for decades – even when it was illegal.  So wouldn’t it be far better for society to have strictly regulated and controlled marijuana for sale, which also could be taxed, than illegal untaxed marijuana at an unknown purity and strength?  And that is not even beginning to discuss the crime that takes place routinely to protect the illicit drug dealers’ turf and profits from each other, much less the police.  And we should control the use of all other illicit substances through the medical profession.  Wouldn’t it be far better to bring these users under the control and guidance of the medical profession than the police?  (Yes, it would also entail a program of reduced legal liability for doctors who prescribed these drugs if something went wrong.) 

One final issue: Libertarians believe that the government has as much right to control what we as an adults put into our bodies as it does what we put into our minds. In other words, use the law to address people’s actions, but not what they put into their bodies. Thus it makes as much sense to put the great actor Robert Downey, Jr. in jail for his use of heroin as it would have in putting Betty Ford in jail for her alcohol use. But if the users drive a motor vehicle under the influence of their drugs of choice, that is and should be a crime. Why? Because now the users are putting other people’s safety at risk. But if all they do is sit at home and gaze at the stars and get silly, let them alone! The Criminal Justice System was designed to protect us from each other – and it is really quite good at it. But it was not at all designed to protect us from ourselves – and it almost always fails woefully when it tries. So Yes, Drug Prohibition must be repealed!

Question for the week: Did you ever feel so good when waking up that you wanted to kiss the person next to you? I did, and now it appears that I will never be allowed to fly on that airline ever again. . .

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

As stated above, feel free to listen to our radio show entitled All Rise! The Libertarian Way with Judge Jim Gray as we discuss timely issues and show how they will be addressed more beneficially by employing Libertarian values and approaches. The series has concluded, but you can still hear any edition On Demand by going to https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/3883. And, by the way, these 2 Paragraphs columns are now on my website at www.JudgeJImGray.com, Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray.wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty. In addition, my new book with the same title as my radio show is now available at Amazon.com. Please read and discuss it with your friends, and send in a review.