A majoritarian dictatorship

There’s a fascinating table in the latest release of the national survey on cannabis use. It detail’s the public’s attitude to the legalisation of cannabis.

The table has a straightforward results list for the whole 15-64 population (Yes-21 per cent; No-68 per cent).

However, the table also breaks down the results by those who have used cannabis and those who have not. According to the survey some 17% of the 15-64 year olds have taken cannabis at some point.

Of those who have never used cannabis the attitude to legalisation is a resounding no (Yes-13 per cent; No-86 per cent). On the other hand those who have inhaled are pretty convinced of the case for legalisation. (Yes-61 per cent; No-28 per cent).

The Minister for Banning Drugs Noel Ahern was on the radio to smugly opine that the case for legalisation was now closed. The majority must prevail.

This is a quite disgraceful argument which has no ethical base to it whatsoever. Suppose the majority of people who have never played rugby decide that it should be banned on the grounds that some players are paralysed during scrummaging? Would the rugby fraternity not be entitled to a say?

What if the majority catholic community here decide that protestantism should be banned? You know, to save them from hell?

What’s more, would a protestant be morally obliged to abide by such a discriminatory law?

Should gays have abided by the disgraceful laws that bore down on them until recently, supported by a bloodyminded and ignorant majority?

The obnoxious smoking ban is universally applied even though a majority of those inconvenienced by the dictat would like to have the choice about whether smoke indoors or not.

And still a majority in Ireland support this ban on choice on the grounds that it suits them.

Let’s be clear about this. Everybody in the world belongs to some minority or other. Every time the state is allowed to triumph over personal choice, whether it’s in smoking in pubs, wearing seatbelts or helmets, smoking a joint or anything that doesn’t suit an electoral majority the freedom of every person is threatened.

Someday the majority will come for you and what you hold important. Don’t expect to have any rights by then.

The Gateway Drug Nonsense

Minister Noel Ahern raised the old hoary chestnut that cannabis is a gateway drug and this is why it should be banned.

A couple of quick figures. Some 460,000 Irish 15-64 year olds have used cannabis. Some 15,000 Irish people are heroin addicts. That’s 3 percent of sometime cannabis users. If cannabis is a gateway to heroin use, then it’s a very inefficient gateway.

Indeed, only 11 per cent of people who have tried cannabis use it regularly. So cannabis isn’t even much of a gateway to cannabis.