Penn Jillette on legalizing pot

Here's Penn Jillette — a teetotaller for all substances — calling for the legalization of marijuana on the incredibly sensible grounds that a) Many presidents, including recent ones, have smoked pot; b) Lots of other happy, well-adjusted people smoke pot; c) Imprisoning pot smokers by the millions costs a lot of money and ruins the lives of millions of otherwise fine Americans.

I'm with Penn. I don't take any mood-altering substances — not even refined sugar! Well, OK, I'll have up to two cups of coffee, but only before noon (I bend this rule while travelling and jetlagged, though I shouldn't). I don't drink alcohol.

But hell, if you want to change your state of mind with a chemical, it's your goddamned state of mind to change. What liberty could be more fundamental than the liberty to choose how you think? Taking mood-altering substances is, in and of itself, victimless (though the drug trade that's sustained by drug prohibition has plenty of victims, and people can certainly destroy their lives with drugs, a tragedy that is vastly exacerbated by prohibition). I've lost several dear friends to drug overdoses and none of them were suicidal: they died because street dope varies wildly in potency and the heroin they took was purer than they'd anticipated.

As far as I'm concerned, everything that we call "drugs" — including crystal meth, heroin, crack, and other drugs that destroy lives in vast swaths — should be legalized and brought into the light of day so that the people who have problems with them can get help without the stigma of criminality and so that the people who don't have problems with them can get on with doing their thing.

Penn Says: Legalize Marijuana