Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Drugs. We all know them and their ability to ruin lives. One of the most sensitive yet prevalent issues in our society, the drug crisis has plagued us for decades. We have all been affected by addiction in different ways at some point in our lives. The conversation about drugs has been running in circles for years and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
From an early age the "don't do drugs kids" notion has been drilled into our heads and yet nearly a quarter of American high schoolers use at least one type of illicit drug. It's no secret that drugs have a hypnotic teenage appeal. Euphoria. 13 Reasons Why. Hip Hop. The conversation about drug addiction seems targeted directly towards us. I remember first learning about the dangers of nicotine in 7th grade, thinking 'Why? Why engage in something so self destructive and ruinous despite knowing how dangerous it could be?' To me, doing drugs was equivalent to willingly running directly into traffic, which is why it was incomprehensible to me that someone would choose to do them. If we were effectively educated on the consequences of drugs, would we still take them when offered to us? Access to hard drugs like methamphetamine is illegal, but should it be? Should drug use be a legal choice? These questions may seem outrageous and ludicrous, but that's where the philosophical concept of libertarianism is introduced.
We live in a predominantly libertarian world, integrating it into our governmental and fundamental systems. The very essence of this philosophy is self possession and individualism. I have the freedom to do what I want with my body, my money, my property, my beliefs. A violation of my liberty is an infringement of my basic right to self possession and thus can be seen as equivalent to slavery. We use this philosophy for freedom of speech. We use it to fight sexism. We use it to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. But where do we draw the line? Is paying taxes anti-libertarian? Should we be forced to wear seat belts in vehicles or masks in public? To what extent can our basic rights of life, liberty and property be respected?
The same theory can be applied to the concept of drugs. Say Libby, a keen 17 year old party-goer and active libertarian is excited to try cocaine for the first time. Why should she be denied the ability to legally do so? Despite being fully educated on the consequences the drugs might have in her life, she chooses to put them in her system. Denying her the drugs would be a violation of her right to self possession. So would refusing Libby her drugs consequently be an act of slavery?
You may argue "That's crazy! Libby is a minor and cannot make such independent decisions in the first place!' But once again, libertarianism challenges the very concept of legality. Why should someone else tell me when I am ready to be financially independent, consume alcohol, vote, drive, be sexually active, etc? Is that not a violation of my liberty?
Is your mind spinning yet?
I don't raise these questions in support of drug use but merely to push the scope of libertarianism and question how much freedom we truly have in a democratic and libertarian society. How much freedom is too much freedom? Or is living in a global society inevitably submitting to a form of slavery?
You can either be a slave to the system or a slave to the drugs. Will you be able to choose?