We all have personal preferences as to what should or should not be accepted in society. The problem is, however, that people want laws to enforce their personal preferences. Liberty and constitutional government suffer with this approach.

Many people do not like marijuana and think it  harmful to society. Perhaps it is in some respects. But what may be harmful does not paint a complete picture of what our laws should criminalize.

Despite the intentions of past generations that criminalized tobacco and alcohol, a further look into principles taught America that absolute prohibition on these things (a) does not promote good and small government; (b) leads to unnecessary black market criminal enterprise; and (c) unnecessarily grows government prosecution and taxation.

We learned that the laws created a greater evil to society than the prohibited thing. And as we accept in politics, the lesser evil is better than the greater evil, right? Thus, the focus should be, to what extent should government be limited in criminalizing human activity–not simply, is this activity considered generically harmful.

As a case in point: Montana laws now prevent proof of aberrant sexual activity as evidence in divorce or child custody matters and have decriminalized adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. Montana laws now protect activities that were once punishable by large fines, imprisonment, and even death.

Many of the people who insist on criminalizing something such as marijuana (or, alcohol in the 1900s, or tobacco in the 1800s) do not preach that our laws should criminalize adultery or fornication, despite expressed Biblical teachings and historical reference. Furthermore, not one politician seems to be campaigning to criminalize these harms upon society’s most fundamental institution—the traditional family.

To demonstrate the political trend further, the Montana Republican Party in its recent State convention revoked its long-held platform plank that homosexuality should be criminalized. It also removed its platform plank supporting the criminalization of marijuana.

The Montana Republican Party has revealed this principle: we choose rather to suffer evils in a free society so that we may prevent the greater evil of irrational government prosecution. It appears not all Republicans have jumped in support of the Party.

If Republicans would be true to their own platform principles (individual liberty and less government and taxes), they will see that my effort regarding the marijuana issue is not for the sake of marijuana (I have no interest in using it), but rather for the sake of individual liberty and a restrained government based upon sound principles not personal preferences. It appears the Montana Republican Party is improving its direction, thankfully.

At the end of the day, this is the principle that will preserve freedom for my generation and my children’s generation. This is why I talk about marijuana. And I will talk about the economy, taxes, due process, equal protection, and every other issue with a similar principle.

Timothy Baldwin
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