In the current General Assembly session, Del. David Englin (D-Alexdria) had introduced legislation in Virginia to study granting the state government a monopoly in the legal sale of marijuana.

The distribution would be executed by the state owned liquor stores.  Englin notes that, instead of giving their money to criminals, the pot users would be giving it to the government.

While I support decriminalization of pot, and in fact all abused drugs, Englin’s is a poor idea.  Do not get me wrong; while I find potheads and other drug abusers to be mistaken and vile, I see no rights violation and therefore no criminality in their immoral use of drugs.

My point is that Virginia has an illegitimate habit of creating state monopolies for controlling and regulating vice.  All of our overpriced liquor stores (to become pot stores) are state owned, and Governor McDonnell has proposed privatizing them.  In Virginia, we have a rapacious state run lottery, when private for-profit lotteries are forbidden.  Facilities for betting on horses are licensed and monitored by the state in such a manner that they are best described as state-granted monopolies.

The purpose of our state government is to protect individual rights from violations by another individual, not to peddle and regulate vice.  Drugs, liquor, and gambling do not violate individual rights, even if some consumers are choosing to harm themselves.  The state should not only get out of these “businesses”, but should also stop regulating the behavior of all individuals, because some are self-destructive.

Threats of government force cannot protect an individual from the consequences of their own choices, and we should stop hoping that it can.

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