Joab, a frequent commentator on this blog and writer of his own Joab's House of Blog, has a provocative post in favor of legalizing marijuana and prostitution. Lest you start labeling him a liberal degenerate (no, that is not redundant), realize that he is a self-described Christian Libertarian and a law-enforcement officer.

He makes the case that marijuana is much less harmful to society than is alcohol; and the penalties seem excessive given the social harm that results from use. Regarding prostitution, he argues that it is going to happen, the way that it happens now has several bad features, and that the social cost would be less if all states followed the Nevada model.

In response: I have gone back and forth on marijuana legalization over the last couple of decade. I oppose the recreational use of marijuana, but it does seem to me that we should legalize it for the following reasons: (1) what Joab said; (2) if at least a significant minority of the members of a free-society are determined not to obey a law, that law cannot be enforced adequately and remain a free society; (3) a significant number of people in a free society chossing to break a law that is not adequately enforced results in a loss of respect for The Law as The Law (see Prohibition); (4) if a significant number of people create a demand that cannot be met legally, they will subsidize a lucrative criminal economy that creates a powerful criminal element.

As a Christian I have distinguished in a previous post between moral issues that should, and should not be, addressed through law (governmental public policy). Some issues are better left to cultural witness by Christians, rather than law. To quote my previous post:

First, while culture and politics are related obviously, they are not exactly the same thing. A Waco Farmer has observed that we do not implement the entire Ten Commandments as public policy. I would add, nor should we. For example, the command not to covet is better conceived as an issue of culture rather than of government. Culture is best shaped by passive and active witness. By Passive Witness I mean the Christian community living according to this commandment for all the world to see. By Active Witness I mean the public articulation of this command in a persuasive way. Even those commandments that have an obvious governmental aspect, such as not bearing false witness, have a limited relation to government in issues such as fraud or perjury. The broader issue of truthfulness is more of a cultural issue (I would never seek prosecution for lying about the size of the fish that got away) and should be promoted by Witness within culture.

I think marijuana is best left as a cultural issue, rather than a governmental. I am now thinking over the prostitution issue.