In the February issue of The Minnesota Atheist, life member Matthew Richardson argued that our organization should support the legalization of drugs. Referring not to prescription medicines but to now-illegal recreational drugs, which he likens to a “humanitarian effort.” Yikes—there are so many things wrong with that, it’s hard to know where to begin to respond.
I hoped that other members would express their dismay with the idea, and Steve Petersen (March newsletter) offered many of the arguments against it that occurred to me, particularly that the concept is not consistent with Minnesota Atheists’ mission. Whatever Constitutional issues are involved in drug legalization, it's not our fight.
Minnesota Atheists should not support the legalization of mood/mind-altering chemicals. Although they may be helpful in psychiatric applications, their recreational use is beneficial to neither the user’s health nor his community. They alter people’s perception of what is real and what is true.
To direct the argument back to something that is within Minnesota Atheists’ purview, there is no difference between mind-altering drugs and the other-world beliefs of religion. We know that nothing fails like prayer. Minnesota Atheists does not go to bat for faith, except incidentally as it benefits from our First Amendment defense along with secularists, and we must not for illegal drugs.
Our reality is in the here-and-now, in the Constitutional separation of state from church, and in reality—not in the altered mental states of religion and drug abuse.