This is the article that appeared in the June 2024 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.

Democrats in many parts of the country have endorsed the legalization of marijuana, and the Biden administration is pushing hard to deemphasize its negative effects. Ironically, the Biden team is hell bent on banning menthol cigarettes. From a public health perspective, none of this makes any sense.

What gives? Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP and the ACLU don’t want a ban on menthol cigarettes. Why? To these activists, every issue, no matter how trivial, is seen through a racial lens. Sharpton said it best. “A menthol ban would severely target and harm African American smokers, who overwhelmingly prefer menthol cigarettes.”

Sharpton did not address the health effects of smoking cigarettes or marijuana—his mind is exclusively fixated on the racial dimension. So is the Biden administration. Interestingly, it goes the other way, maintaining that because menthol use is popular with blacks, that smacks of racism. The one thing they agree on is that racism is everywhere.

For years conservatives such as William F. Buckley, Jr. have been telling us that drug legalization will put an end to the black market. The data prove them wrong. When drugs are plentiful, more people will try them, including the very young, and when government-approved drugs are regarded as too restrictive—in terms of potency, quantity, availability and new substances—black market profiteers move in for the kill. Nothing will ever stop this barely underground occupation.

Moreover, when drugs are legalized, social disorder follows. Truancy, street crimes and morally destitute acts spike. We should have learned by now: Cultivating virtue and citizenship is never easy—destroying it is.

But to those who are obsessed with race, none of this matters. They are the true regressives, having learned nothing about the frailty of the human condition.

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