Nowadays, it is common to hear mainstream voices proclaiming the many failures of socialism and centralized government. However, marijuana prohibition is rarely mentioned among these failures. That raises a question: what makes this big government policy so different than the others?

There seems to be a strange disconnect in terms of the perception of federal power among many limited government supporters on this particular issue. Many on the political right solidly oppose federal mandates applied to a wide variety of issues, including education, the environment, the economy, monetary policy, and so on. However, when it comes to drugs, their logic flips on its head. Suddenly, conservatives become the strongest advocates of heavy-handed, unconstitutional federal power.

What is going on here?

All conservatives, constitutionalists and skeptics of government power should hate the federal drug war because it is very much a socialist policy. The underlying idea that for the ‘greater good,’ we must protect society and the children from the scourge of drugs sounds like the rationale underlying every socialist policy ever devised. Just replace ‘drugs’ in the previous sentence with ‘climate change’ or ‘firearms,’ and this fact becomes obvious. This great bamboozlement, perpetuated by federal propaganda, severely damages the credibility of the limited government cause.

Alcohol prohibition was the precursor to the federal drug war. Keep in mind this came about during the heyday of the Progressive Era. Prohibition was just one of many big government concepts conceived in a time when government power was increased to previously unfathomable heights. It was the FDR-era Supreme Court that interpreted interstate commerce so expansively as to allow the feds to assume the role of regulating drugs without a constitutional amendment. Here we see the socialist legacy of marijuana prohibition and how a cannabis detox is necessary for all of those who have struggle with addiction.

These are not policies a limited government advocate or constitutional conservative should champion.

The disastrous ramifications of the “war on drugs” extend far beyond mere drug policy. The drug war serves as a pretext to rapidly expand federal power. When the federal government claims the power to prohibit marijuana, what’s stopping them from applying the same principle to virtually anything? If you are a widget salesman, and the government arbitrarily declares a ‘war on widgets,’ you are finished. You become an outlaw instantly. And based upon the unconstitutional precedent set with marijuana and other drugs, the feds are perfectly justified in making this distinction. You’ve already conceded the principle.

When the people allow government to seize this kind of power, it will by its very nature expand and be abused. Government never remains within its original mandate. When the feds claimed the power to kick in someone’s door because they might have a certain plant, it opened the door for further exercises of unconstitutional power. This usurpation began innocently enough with a plausible basis – to stop the scourge of drug use. But many decades into the war on drugs, we’ve witnessed the degradation of our founding documents and the evolution of a larger, more intrusive federal government. And still, drug use has soared.

In the name of federal marijuana prohibition, and the broader war on drugs, our constitutional freedoms are under attack like never before. No-knock warrants have put property owners and law enforcement in grave danger, as the process makes it virtually impossible for individuals to differentiate a police officer from a home invader. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to steal a person’s property before they are even convicted of a crime. Stop-and-frisk has eviscerated the privacy rights of minorities and youths in cities nationwide, subjecting them to random shakedowns on the street.

All of these constitutional abuses would have never come to pass if it wasn’t for the federal war on drugs. Because we listened to federal propaganda about how sweeping new powers were necessary to keep us safe, it opened the door to gross violations that now affect all of us. Once the 5th and 6th amendments were on the table, it became easier for the feds to ravage our 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, 4th Amendment, 10th Amendment and so on. We are paying the price for trusting the federal government to solve the drug problem.

The drug war is undeniably rooted in a collectivist mindset. It is progressive to the core and follows the same reasoning as other big-government policies, from federal health care to gun control.

The conservative response to the drug problem is decentralization and local control. The feds have convinced many of us that we need big-government, socialist policies to stop the prevalence of drugs in our communities. We must resist their propaganda, and restore control over drugs to the state and local level – where the Founding Fathers intended it to be. That way, each state can deal with marijuana or any other substance in their own way. The best drug policy method can be copied in other states. We can discover ways to reduce drug use without locking people in cages and destroying families. The feds’ big government approach to drugs has failed. It is time for constitutionalists to get out in front of this issue, and demand for the socialistic war on drugs to be repealed, once and for all.

The Tenth Amendment Center is leading the way toward that goal. We fight unconstitutional federal power on every issue, every time with no exceptions or excuses. Like what we stand for? Join us, and help us decentralize federal power before it consumes our rights irreversibly.

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