Jefferson’s next crusade, whatever it might have been, was preempted. His personal accountability and freedom banner had been strangely taken up by the Freedom Five, some extreme members of the opposition party.
“Freedom of the Mind for the Mind” was the Freedom Five’s slogan. They latched onto Jefferson’s personal accountability mantra: the freedom to act and behave as you liked as long as your behavior did not infringe upon the rights of others. They were advocates for your mind, for your brain, for your choice. Specifically the choice to use mind-altering drugs. The Freedom Five wanted to legalize most drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. They kept the list of drugs to naturally occurring drugs. Crystal Meth didn’t make the list. If I didn’t cause harm to someone while I was on drugs, then my doing drugs is not a problem. If I did harm someone while on drugs, I would be accountable for that. The Civic Accountability Board’s would take care of me. They used Jefferson’s personal accountability logic adeptly.
The Freedom Five argued for legalization of drugs using personal freedom as a hammer and tax revenue as an anvil. The projected tax revenues were significant enough to be a big carrot to the states, not even including the decreased enforcement expenditures. That brought on board a slew of hesitant congressional members.
Senator Esposito had a lot of concerns about the spread of drug use. Yet the appeal of tax revenues in a state continually struggling with budget balancing was tempting. The public was fairly split on the topic. Esposito could go either way; determining which way would get him reelected was the tough call. I got a call from Esposito. Would I still support him if he voted in favor? I said yes. Keep the money flowing.
The political coup de gras came when the Freedom Five offered up state choice. Though there would be Federal guidelines and some regulation, the States would be able to choose to allow legal sale of drugs or not and set guidelines as long as they didn’t violate federal guidelines. That tipped the scales. Senator Esposito jumped on board along with many other congressional members. For Esposito the state control meant he could dump blame on the state if things went south.
Jefferson didn’t like it. He was against drug use. He liked it even less since his next crusade for personal accountability had been preempted. Now these hippies were going to pull one over on him. But he didn’t campaign against it. He had used the same argument to pass the Home Protection Act and the Darwin Laws. He wanted to use it again. The hypocrisy of opposing his own logic stopped him from opposing the bill.
The “Freedom of the Mind for the Mind” bill passed the two congressional houses. Jefferson made his symbolic political stand by not signing the law, but did not veto it. States acted swiftly. Special state legislative sessions were called. States created bureaucratic structures and regulations. Most importantly, tax collection systems were put in place. Tax revenue ruled.
The Ag industry jumped in immediately. Though still reeling from the repeal of the nationalized diet, plenty of farmers had not yet retooled and could shift to production of marijuana, the easiest plant to cultivate in the US. Other plants would take longer to cultivate and some weren’t feasible to be grown here. So the one caveat to state control was that the Feds would control import points for other drugs.
The states ran with state control. Beyond the basic need to be licensed to grow and sell, the options were wide open on how to regulate. Some states issued licenses and instituted quality checks. That was it. Others wanted more control. In some, you had to register to buy. Texas and North Dakota choose not to allow legal sale at all.
For most states, drug purchases would be tracked. You were good until you caused harm to another. Then your records would be checked. Your purchases would be taking into consideration. If you choose to take drugs that might compromise your ability to respects others’ freedoms, those choices could be held against you and your freedoms taken away. The Civic Accountability Boards would decide.
One state took this to a more universal interpretation of drugs: all legal drugs would fall into the category of tracking: alcohol, cigarettes, prescription medications. All legal drugs. If you transgressed while on these drugs, punishment could be harsh. You were branded an abuser. The Civic Accountability Board would take care of you.
Despite the mixed message of freedom and fear of punishment, retail stores popped up everywhere. Drug lounges opened, like the hash bars of Amsterdam. Tax revenues started to come in. Life was good for the states. Life was good for drug users.
There was outcry. Doomsday critics bellowed. Ease of access could lead to epidemic levels of drug addiction and abuse and social decline. However, it had happened yet. So the opposition’s argument degenerated into a hope they would be able to say I told you so.
The Freedom Five slipped one last amendment into their bill: amnesty for imprisoned drug offenders. If what you were in prison for what was now legal, then you should not still be in prison. You were free to go. Those convicted of violent crime were exempt from amnesty. Still, approximately 200,000 people were released from prison immediately.
Whether President Jefferson was aware of the provision is hard to say. He didn’t condemn the law. He just moved on. Or tried to.