Liberals want to ban trans fats and legalize marijuana. Does that make any sense to you?
By WILLIAM J. BENNETT and CHRISTOPHER BEACH
The national debate over marijuana legalization has caught many liberals in a confounding paradox. These liberals, who have fought vociferously for bans on cigarettes, super-sized sodas, trans fats and other unhealthy substances, now either advocate for the legalization of marijuana or stand unopposed to it. This is notable because, whatever else it is, marijuana is not healthy.
In his recent New Yorker interview, President Obama remarked , “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.” But then he added, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Of the legalization in Colorado and Washington–never mind the unresolved conflict between state and federal law–he said, “it’s important for it to go forward.”
Got that? The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization.
The inconsistency and self-contradiction is obvious. In the name of public health, liberals wage political war against genetically modified organisms, french fries and tubby kids, yet stand idly by, or worse, support the legalization of a mind-impairing substance known to be addictive and have deleterious effects on the brain.
The very same year, for example, that Colorado legalized marijuana, the Colorado Senate passed (without a single Republican vote) a ban on trans fats in schools. Are we to believe eating a glazed donut is more harmful than smoking a joint? California has already banned trans fats in restaurants statewide, but now is on the brink of legalizing marijuana statewide come November. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to decriminalize marijuana in New York State, while at the same time supporting a ban on extra-large sodas. A 32-ounce Mountain Dew is bad for you, but pot isn’t?
The logic is dumbfounding. For many years, health-conscious liberals have waged a deafening, public war against cigarettes. Smoking bans in public places like restaurants and bars have been enacted in states all over the country.Recently, New York City, New Jersey and several other cities and states have extended those bans to include the newest tobacco fad–e-cigarettes. Yet, when it comes to smoking marijuana? Crickets.
What explains this obvious paradox? Do these liberals think that marijuana is somehow less harmful than a Big Gulp soda or a bucket of fried chicken? It’s hard to believe that’s the case, given the vast amount of social data and medical science on the dangers of marijuana.
William J. Bennett, former secretary of education and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “Morning in America.”