Scott Sumner  

The libertarian coast

What My "Case Against Educatio... Social Undesirability Bias...

Yesterday's win for the Canadian Liberals was a huge win for libertarian policies in North America:

One other industry may gain from the Liberal landslide. Canadian marijuana stocks including Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria Inc. and Mettrum Health Corp. may gain as Trudeau has said he will legalize and regulate marijuana, Dundee Capital Markets analyst Aaron Salz said in a Tuesday note to clients.

"Trudeau's vow to legalize and regulate marijuana the 'right way' has set in motion the single most important catalyst for the marijuana space," Salz said.

Next year California will probably vote to legalize pot, creating a drugtopia on the coast of North America from San Diego all the way up to the Alaska/Russian border. Pot will be legal in a vast area of 5 million square miles, encompassing 90 to 120 million people (depending on the votes in other states.) And don't forget that Mexico moved in the direction of legalizing pot a few years ago, but was dissuaded by the Bush administration.

Polls show that 60% of young Republicans favor pot legalization, which makes the momentum seem unstoppable.

In another big win for libertarianism, California recently adopted a right-to-die law. The Canadian Supreme Court created a similar right in 2015. Once again, there is a distinct West Coast bias towards libertarian policies (Alaska is still debating the issue):

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Voters in my own state (Massachusetts) narrowly rejected a right-to-die law due to an odd alliance of the supposedly liberal Boston Globe and the Catholic Church. It had been expected to pass easily until a campaign of misinformation and scare tactics was mounted at the last minute.

The Economist has a very good article on how the right-to-die movement is progressing in many countries.

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CATEGORIES: Regulation

COMMENTS (12 to date)
Pierre writes:

I'm not holding my breath about Trudeau coming through on his legalization promise. His father created the Le Dain commission, and then proceeded to completely ignore the recommendations. I know that the "sins of the father" isn't a very good critique, but I bring it up to say "we've heard this before" from a Canadian government, and nothing has come of it.

Perhaps the fact that there are now several US states with legal marijuana will change things, but I'm skeptical about political promises.

Foseti writes:

Nothing says libertarianism like getting high and killing yourself!

Andrew_FL writes:

Yeah living in California would make me suicidal, too.

I must admit it's puzzling how easy it is to make a certain kind of "libertarian" view a place as a libertarian paradise. Almost nothing about these states is especially libertarian except their positions on pot and medical licenses to kill.

Scott Sumner writes:

Pierre, At least they have a majority, so they won't be able to blame any failure on their coalition partner.

Andrew, Who argued these states were libertarian paradises?

Mark Bahner writes:
Nothing says libertarianism like getting high and killing yourself!

Obviously, you don't have any loved ones in serious pain or other illnesses potentially treated with marijuana.

Every politician/drug bureaucrat/voter/blog commenter who opposes complete legalization of marijuana ought to be ashamed for every minute and second that they come between kids like Vivian Wilson--not to mention all the adult and child cancer patients--and the marijuana-based medicines that can help them.

Yeah, and I'm talking about you, Chris Christie, you heartless worm

Miguelito writes:

Also in just the last few days Mexican jurists have indicated they are likely to proclaim personal use and cultivation of pot (but not commerce) a constitutionally protected personal freedom.

Nathan W writes:

While I would much rather live to a ripe old age not suffering from any particularly debilitating or painful ending, I am very thankful to live in an age where, should it become clearly too much to handle, the state will not force me to suffer for no good reason in my last months or years. In such a case, far better to be able to die on my own terms.

Foseti - a) it is impossible to overdose on marijuana; b) for harder drugs, probably far fewer people would die if they could access licit supplies, since quality control would be much better.

Pierre - it has been a very clear part of his platform and intentions for quite some time. Also, as opposed to the 1970s where Reefer Madness-style propaganda was still wreaking its mischievous toll, there is now fairly strong majority support for decriminalization or full legalization.

Fred Mangels writes:

I have to agree with Andrew. I've lived in California most of my life and it's anything but libertarian. The exact opposite, in fact. As far as I'm concerned, the mj legalization effort- while supported by libertarians- is more of a bone thrown from the Left to their followers to show them how "cool" they are.

In the meantime, those same people keep putting more restrictions on tobacco and even e-cigs. California is an authoritarian state, not libertarian.

Andrew_FL writes:

Scott, calling them "The libertarian coast" certainly has that ring, doesn't it? I'm sorry if that's not what you intended to convey but in that case isn't it better you know your title for the post is misleading?

Robert Farrior writes:

The West coast of the U.S., including California, may have taken a libertarian stance on marijuana legalization and right to die, but it is hardly some kind of libertarian bastion. To the contrary, the area is a totalitarian nightmare, just like the rest of the country, and indeed, in some areas, the tyranny is particularly acute there!

Scott Sumner writes:

Andrew, Perhaps it conveyed the idea that this coast has recently been in the vanguard on some extremely important libertarian issues, while it remains well short of being a libertarian paradise in any overall sense. Did you give any consideration to that possible meaning? Did you assume that I am unaware of various non-libertarian public policies in California? Did I mention the term "paradise"?

Andrew_FL writes:

Well no, but you did use the term "drugtopia."

I don't see these particular issues as high on a scale of important issues from a libertarian perspective but maybe that's just me.

Of course, I would expect you to be aware of those other policies, at least to some degree. But since you didn't mention them, readers might get other ideas.

I get the since I've annoyed you, which was not my intention. If so, I'm sorry.

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