Marijuana debate: Start with individual freedom

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison support the legalization of marijuana in the state for recreational purposes. The state House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, seems willing to consider the idea, which may face a tougher go in the state Senate, controlled by Republicans.

There are many things that can be discussed and debated in regard to this issue. We’re sure all of these points of contention will come up:

Will it impair drivers? How will it affect youth who will inevitably be partaking no matter how the law sets the age limit? Will it lead to greater use of other, more dangerous drugs? What are the statistics on small-time offenders being sent to jail, and will legalization unclog the overcrowding in prisons? What have states that have gone the legalization route experienced? What knowledge can we gain from them?

This is all fine and good, but also somehow lacking. Maybe there are better questions to ask. Or one better question.

Like whether government needs to expend so much time and energy on the minutiae of every issue in life to try to determine what is “right” for every citizen. How about starting with the premise that individual rights come first? So if adults wish to smoke marijuana, they should not be stopped.

Let us be clear, though. We are not condoning the use of pot, or the lifestyle. It doesn’t strike us as particularly smart. Or productive. But, despite our reservations, we are suggesting that it really isn’t any of our business. Or anyone else’s.

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