Sunday, July 31, 2005

Marc Emery on drugs and liberty

Back in 2002, I organised a libertarian event a posh Vancouver hotel. It featured Stephen Easton of Simon Fraser University (and the Fraser Institute), Vin Suprynowicz of the Las Vegas Review Journal, and Canada's great hero of liberty Marc Emery, Prince of Pot.

Marc's inspiring speech on drugs and liberty from the event is available here.

Please enjoy it.

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About: Peter Jaworski

Peter Jaworski is an MSc Candidate in Philosophy & Public Policy at the London School of Economics. He holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo and an Honours Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Queen's University. Beginning this fall, Peter will be a PhD student in Applied Ethics, Social & Political Philosophy at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Peter is an award-winning journalist, having worked for the Queen's University Journal, Vermont Law School Forum, and the Western Standard and was, for three years, a weekly columnist for the Orono Weekly Times. He has been published in the Reader's Digest, National Post, Long Island Business News, the Orono Weekly Times, the Western Standard, amongst others.

He has worked as an intern at the Cato Institute (2002) in Washington D.C., and the Fraser Institute (2003) in their Toronto office. While in London, Peter was a research assistant with the International Policy Network in Covent Garden.

About: Jason Cherniak

Jason Cherniak just graduated from Dalhousie Law School and will begin articling at a law firm in Toronto in September, 2005.

He was on the Young Liberals of Canada national executive until March 2005, when he co-chaired their National Convention.

Jason earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, where he double majored in Ethics, Society and Law and History, and minored in Philosophy.

Friedman on Drugs

Back in my undergrad days I had the opportunity to have a chat with Milton Friedman. What he has to say about drugs is interesting and important, given the (Marc Emery) circumstances. (I also thought it a good idea to post this given some of the comments for my post over on The Shotgun. Some of those comments are ridiculous. For instance, one guy seems to think that because Emery was a loser in college, he belongs in a prison for life...)

Here is an excerpt of the interview ("Friedman and Freedom") published in The Queen's University Journal:

The War on Drugs

Peter Jaworski
: In a 1972 Newsweek article, I'm shifting topics here, you compared alcohol prohibition to the current prohibition of drugs. Now you wrote then that the War on Drugs has caused more problems than it's solved, and that drugs should be legal. Do you still feel this way?

Milton Friedman
: Absolutely!

: Even hard drugs—cocaine, heroin?

: Absolutely.

: Would you restrict the use of drugs in some circumstances?

: I would say that people should be responsible for their behaviour when they use drugs. Just as drunk drivers should be arrested for drunk driving. Not for being drunk, but for driving while drunk and endangering other people. And I should say that if a drug addict, while on drugs, engages in activities that harm other people he should be punished as well. The question is whether the government should have the right to say what you may put in your mouth any more than it has the right to say what you may put in your mind.

: But couldn't we say that certain drugs, perhaps, just as ideas, once inside might lead to certain consequences and wouldn't we be...

: Of course they might! And I think that information should be generally available. And people, knowing that, will behave accordingly. But that's a different question. It's clear, if you go back to that article, that the prohibition of drugs has had the exact effect that I'd described. It has produced a great deal of corruption. It has involved the violation of civil rights—personal and individual freedom—and it hasn't stopped people from taking drugs. There would be much less damage from drugs if it were perfectly legal and open than there is now.

: Now you also said in that same article that this was an ethical issue as well.

: Absolutely—I've just said it—what right does the government have to tell me what I may put in my mouth? If the government has the right to tell me what I may put in my mouth, why doesn't it have the right to tell me what I may put in my mind? There is, in my opinion, no government policy that is as immoral as drug prohibition. Tell me, how can you justify killing thousands of people in Colombia because we can't enforce our own laws?

If we could enforce our laws, there would be no demand for drugs because it is illegal for people to consume drugs. But we can't enforce our laws. And the result of that is to create an illegal industry that leads to the kinds ofdevelopments you have in Colombia where thousands of people have been killed.

(You can read all of it here. And you should.)

Extradition for Emery?

Marc Emery, the renowned pot provocateur, was arrested in Halifax earlier today. Rumours are circulating (courtesy of the CBC) that Emery was arrested on orders from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and that he will be facing extradition for selling pot seeds from Canada.

Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, runs Pot-TV, and is the proprietor of He is currently scheduled to attend and speak at the Liberty Summer Seminar, but it looks like, once more, prison will keep him from talking about liberty.

(Cross-posted: The Shotgun, Jaworski)