California Propositions 56 and 64 propose laws that attack personal liberty rights. This election cycle shows how Americans misunderstand and oppose liberty. Californians placed Propositions 56 and 64 on the November ballot respectively to increase cigarette tax by $2.00 a pack, and to legalize and tax uses of Marijuana. Both Propositions impose onerous taxes to decrease uses of tobacco or marijuana products. In addition, they describe plans to use the tax revenue to meet costs of various government expenses that all citizens should share. Both proposed tax laws expand government authority over human rights by restricting or denying individuals’ the inborn liberty right of self-determination and choice.
Similar to the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution sets up a republican form of government for the State. In both constitutions, the people grant limited powers to government and keep all other power, liberty, and human rights.
California Constitution: ARTICLE I DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
[Section 1] All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.
Section 7. (a) A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws;
The official name of the law proposed by California Proposition 64 is The Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Some people see the proposed law as a positive policy change from drug prohibition that erodes liberty to one of choice. However, nobody shares that opinion that understands or values liberty values.
Clearly, Propositions 56 and 64 violate Article I Declaration of Rights. It forces citizens to quit using tobacco and marijuana products or face the expense of high taxes. Different from a pure democracy, a voting majority in a constitutional republic cannot grant government authority to deny or to infringe on the inborn liberty and human rights of members in the minority. More accurately, they cannot do so and keep the essential foundation for a constitutional democracy or republic.
History reports how laws of prohibition inevitably attack liberty by denying individuals the right of choice. The 1919 Amendment XVIII to the U.S. Constitution outlawed the making, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages into or within the United States. The law created so much organized crime and disorder without eliminating alcohol consumption the nation repealed it fourteen years later. Nevertheless, President Nixon ignored this history lesson in 1971, and launched a war on drugs.
All conditions in nature reflect the forces that created them. Therefore, society should have expected federal laws banning recreational use of drugs to create crime and disorder similar to conditions created by alcohol prohibition. However, the “war on drugs” created more crime and social disorder. Government responded by expanding the domain of criminal-justice authority over all Americans’ liberty rights. For example, the government tracks large cash transactions as signs of drug trafficking. Often it confiscates the money under drug war authority without a procedure that would allow the individual to prove a legal source of the money. The War on Drugs has become a war on liberty, because each newly created policing agency reduces personal sovereignty.
High taxes on marijuana and tobacco products will encourage smuggling the same as prohibition does. The elaborate legal procedures required for commercial production and retail sales—each county and city can impose local laws—will encourage smuggling and underground sales. In addition, the higher taxes nicotine addicted citizens pay government for tobacco products leaves them less money to buy groceries for a healthy diet.
American society must address problems with addiction that threaten the health and productivity of addicted people. However, society must approach the problem from a health care and educational perspective and not the law and order perspective that attacks liberty. Teaching students about anatomy, diet, and nourishment beginning in the first grade would provide them with the essential knowledge they need to decide what food and drugs to take into their bodies.