During America’s period of highest per capita GDP growth, recreational drugs were entirely legal. On the other hand the government wouldn’t give you a free house, free health care, free food, and a free smartphone. My entire lifetime has coincided with a War on Drugs and also a War on Poverty that has made being a jobless drug addict more comfortable. While the War on Poverty continues unabated (and Hillary proposes to expand it substantially; see Book Review: The Redistribution Recession for the effects of the Obama Administration expansion of this war), there are some ballot questions in various states this year proposing to end at least the state-run war on marijuana. There haven’t been any explicit arguments against marijuana legalization in the New York Times, but I’m wondering if “Millions of Men Are Missing From the Job Market” is an implicit argument against ending the war. The Times editorial says, essentially, that Americans are too busy taking prescription opioids to be bothered with a job. If this is indeed the source of the U.S.’s shrinking labor force participation rate compared to, e.g., Singapore, then wouldn’t legal and readily available marijuana further shrink the number of Americans who want to work?
One good thing about the proposed Massachusetts law is that citizens can “grow up to six marijuana plants in their residences”. A citizen who has been blessed with free public housing can thus sit on the sofa playing Xbox while taxpayers pay for the electricity supply to the grow lamps.
Milton Friedman said that we couldn’t have a welfare state and open borders at the same time. I’m wondering if he were alive whether he would say that we couldn’t have, simultaneously, (1) a welfare state, (2) legal recreational drugs, and (3) a high rate of labor force participation.
[Note that, other than paying taxes to support prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and the prison industry, I don’t have a personal dog in this fight. See my 2011 post regarding random drug testing for pilots.]