The drug war has just taken another victim. This time the feds have ruined the life of Marc Gerson, a star law student at Georgetown University, who, according to the Washington Post, “was Phi Beta Kappa at Georgetown, a top economics student and an award-winning debater.” Washington, D.C., federal judge Reggie B. Walton has just sentenced Gerson to serve four years in the penitentiary, which also effectively eliminates his dream of practicing law.
Gerson’s crime? He’s a drug addict. Some years ago, Gerson became addicted to methamphetamine and then later started to sell it to people he met online and through social contacts.
Let’s recap what Gerson did not do. He didn’t murder, rob, burglarize, steal, or initiate any other type of force against other people. That is, he didn’t do anything to violate anyone else’s rights. All he did was engage in conduct that is self-destructive or consensual.
For that he deserves to be punished? Yep, say the statists. In the statist mind, he belongs to the state, to the collective, to society. As a drone within their giant bee hive, he is expected to maintain himself at full productive capacity. His drug addiction interferes with that. So, under the statist mindset, he’s got to be punished for his nonconformity. He must be sent to jail for four years to help him conform to proper behavior–that is, behavior that has been sanctioned by the masters of the hive.
Oh, sure, if he were an alcoholic, there wouldn’t a problem. The hive masters say that while alcoholism is harmful, they’re not going to punish people for it. The reason is because mainstream Americans, including plenty of lawyers and judges, love their booze. Beer, wine, and liquor are considered respectable vices.
The punishment of Marc Gerson illustrates the complete horror story that the drug war has become. Gerson no more belongs in jail than, say, President Obama, who himself has admitted to ingesting illicit drugs. When the state is jailing good people who have done nothing to violate the rights of others, that’s a good sign that there’s something wrong with the law, not the citizenry.
All that Walton has done is become a drug addict and engaged in purely consensual sales transactions with other adults. In a moral sense, what he ingests is none of the state’s business. It’s none of the prosecutor’s business. It’s none of the judge’s business. His addiction is his business.
And the same applies to the drug sales. People want to buy a drug, for whatever reason. Gerson offers it for sale. The deal is made. That too is none of the state’s business. After all, we’re talking about consenting adults here, not little children who have to be sent to their room for putting something bad into their mouths.
The horrible irony of all this is that it’s the drug laws themselves that lure good people like Gerson into getting involved in drug deals. The illegality of drugs causes prices and profits to soar to such high levels that ordinary people get tempted to make some quick money at it. Time and time again throughout the long, sordid history of the drug war, we see ordinary people, including students, airline workers, bank clerks, and the like trying to score big off a drug sale. That’s because of the drug war.
Oh, by the way, what good will it do to send Gerson to jail? Does it mean that the drug war has finally been won? Does it mean that people will finally stop consuming or selling drugs? Of course not. Federal police, prosecutors, and federal judges will just continue doing what they and their predecessors have done for decades — continue enforcing inane and destructive drug laws, with nothing positive to show for it.
What has happened to Gerson also exposes the sham of occupational licensure for lawyers. As the article points out, Gerson probably will never be able to practice law. Why not? Because the state controls who gets to practice law by virtue of its ridiculous licensing system.
The statists say that a licensing system is necessary to protect the public from incompetent and unethical lawyers. What a joke that is. As everyone knows, the legal profession is not only littered with boozers, it’s also littered with incompetent and unethical lawyers, all of whom have received licenses from the state. The fact is that licensure is nothing more than a protection racket for lawyers to protect them from competition, just like the old mercantilist guilds in the Middle Ages.
There’s absolutely no reason why Gerson shouldn’t be free to become a lawyer, despite his drug addiction. After all, if a drug addict like Robert Downey Jr. can become a great actor, if a former drug user like Barack Obama can become president, if boozers can become lawyers and judges, then why shouldn’t Gerson be free to become a lawyer notwithstanding his drug addiction?
What the statists have done to Marc Gerson is just one more reason why it’s imperative that the drug war be ended, immediately. Drug addiction is bad enough. Why should the state be able to pile on?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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