Where does reasonable regulation end and an intrusive nanny state begin?
Helmet laws got me thinking about this. A 55 year old man in New York died yesterday while in a helmet law protest ride. Riding without helmet in the protest, the biker had a minor accident which flipped him over the handlebars of his 1985 Harley and he died from injuries received when his head hit the pavement. No right-minded person can argue that wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bike is useless. They do save lives. In all likelihood, wearing helmets 100% of the time would save even more lives. People do die from falls, being hit in the head by a flying or falling object, etc. But as a kid in the 1950s, I rode a bike. All my friends did. We had never heard of bike helmets. The grownups around us had never heard of them. And we all survived. So I know the great feeling of the wind in your hair as you ride at top speed down a hill. How does the state balance the feeling of the wind in your hair versus the safety of a helmet?
Medical marijuana is a clear area where nanny state laws lack credibility. To be sure the government has some legitimate interest in preventing useless and even openly harmful patent medicines from being sold with the same claims to legitimacy that carefully researched drugs have. But we allow all manner of unproven “natural” supplements and cure-alls to be sold.
Marijuana was originally outlawed as a form of Jim Crow law aimed at Mexican immigrants in the US, who were the only typical users when the laws went into effect. Today, there is far more solid research backing marijuana’s medical value than there is backing most of the junk sold at major pharmacies in the vitamin and supplement isle. And yet nanny state continues the protect the citizens ruse when it certainly looks like drug company profits are what the protection is really aimed at.
How much should be left up to the individual to decide, and when does the state have a legitimate interest in forcing us to do what it thinks is the right thing?