The libertarian and founder of the staunchly conservative “National Review”, wrote “McCarthy and His Enemies” defending McCarthyism, claimed multiculturalism is an attack on Christianity, and once called “Gore Vidal” a queer. Despite his contemptible behaviour on those matters, he had a sensible eye towardWeed.
He famously smokedMarijuana after sailing his boat outside the U.S. Territorial waters, where it would no longer be illegal, and finally In 1996 wrote an editorial for the “National Review” decrying the war onPot. He wrote a column called “The War on Drugs is Lost”, rattling many of his conservative followers.
"Legal practices should be informed by realities. 700,000 pot arrests each year, 87% of which involved only possession of small amounts. This exercise in scrupulosity costs us $10-15 billion per year in direct expenditures alone."
His position was unexpected, but it offered an honorable example of his real commitment to intellectualism, and his common-sense view was a precursor to the wider bipartisan support forLegalization today, he explained his views on the interview show “The Open Mind” on August 6th, 1996:
"A conservative seeks to be grounded in reality. That which works is quantifiable; that which simply does not work, isn't... My position on drugs is that... the drug laws aren't working, and that more damage net is being done by their continuation on the books than would be done by withdrawing them from the books."
Buckley wrote more than fifty other books on diverse topics, including writing, speaking, history, politics, and sailing. His primary contribution to politics was a fusion of traditionalist conservatism and classical liberalism; it laid the groundwork for the rightward shift in the “Republican Party” exemplified by “Barry Goldwater” and “Ronald Reagan”.
It’s been exactly eleven years since he died. Yet, surveying the ideological landscape, it feels more like a century. Watch an episode of his program “Firing Line”, and you’ll see that, he (In his uniquely aristocratic way) would debate guests on the issues of the day. Not try to shout each other down, or trot out a quick sound bite before three or four different people cross-talked over you, but actually debate.
May you find it as a boring “TV_series”, and perhaps by the cage-match mentality prevailing today, it was. But I am talking about a program that racked up more than 1,500 episodes over nearly 35 years, the longest-running public affairs show in US television history with a single host, and about the Episode S0075 “A Conservative Look at Marijuana” on December 21, 1972 and the Episode S1196 “Legalize Pot”, recorded on January 12, 1999.
Yes. It was on my boat, outside the three‐mile limit—I'm a law‐and‐ order advocate, you know.
Buckley have called not just for debate, but also for legalization itself. He said, in essence, that the nation’s war on drugs has failed, and that making drugs legal would erase the enormous profit motive for traffickers and thus diminish crime and violence. The nation’s resources would then be free for drug education, treatment and rehabilitation.
I’m in favor of legalization of marijuana not because I’m in favor of people being allowed to do what they want to do but because I think that the war against marijuana is not worth it, that more people are suffering on account of that war than would suffer without it.
He died at the age of 82. You may have loved him or hated him, but one thing is clear — more than anyone else, he made it cool to be a conservative against the drug war.
The first real exposure to his drug war views was this 1996 issue of National Review. He regularly spoke out for legalization, particularly ofCannabis, and will always have a home in the drug policy reform community. Rest in peace.