Today, I walked into a Shell station on Rocky Ridge Road in Vestavia Hills, Alabama with every intention of buying a bottle of K-chill. You see, I deadlifted yesterday, which left my lower back and knees quite sore and uncomfortable. Rather than take Ibuprofen and run the risk of developing stomach ulcers or some other sort of malady that can result from excessive NSAID use, I thought I’d rather steer clear of medication entirely and instead imbibe a bottle of K-chill. K-chill contains extract from what’s known as the kratom plant from southeast Asia. This extract has been used for centuries to relieve minor aches and pains, as well as provide a general sense of relaxation and contentment. It is a fantastic alternative to opioids, NSAIDS, and other potentially harmful over the counter medications.

Unfortunately, it seems I was not meant to have K-Chill on this day. No, our good and gracious overseers in the Alabama legislature have now classified kratom as a schedule one drug effective today, placing the innocuous and benign kratom right alongside heroin, LSD, and cocaine.

Now, this made me incredibly angry for a number of reasons. Nevermind that the war on drugs has had the exact opposite of the intended effect and has actually increased drug use worldwide. Nevermind that the prohibition of drugs has been directly linked to an increase in violent crime. Nevermind that the drug war is a heinously, disturbingly massive waste of stolen taxpayer dollars. Nevermind that we have the drug war to thank for the world’s largest prison population and world’s highest incarceration rate right here in the land of the free. Nevermind that the drug war has destroyed the black community specifically and has created what is undeniably the new Jim Crow oppressing the black population. Nevermind that prohibition has never worked anywhere, ever, at any point in history, period. I wouldn’t expect the Alabama legislature, with it’s cumulative IQ of 200, to know or understand any of these things.

No, what made me truly angry is the hubris behind this ban. These legislators, in their infinite wisdom and supreme confidence, purport to know what’s best for me better than I do. They presume to have far more knowledge of what is and is not okay for me to consume, and have done me the favor of threatening to throw me in a metal cage at the point of gun to ensure that I follow the decisions these wise sages are making on my behalf.

Well, I have news for  you, Alabama legislature: you do not, nor will you ever, have the moral authority, much less the knowledge and foresight, to make any decision regarding the ultimate well being of any other human being besides yourself. You will never have all of the requisite knowledge you would need to make such a decision because, quite simply, you aren’t me and you don’t own me. In fact, it is physically impossible for you to aggregate enough knowledge of my personal, individual, unique life circumstances to justify making this ban “for my own good,” much less for the good of every individual in an entire state comprised of nearly five million people. The economist Frederic Hayek called this the “knowledge problem,” and it applies to far more than just banning controlled substances. The fact that central planners like the Alabama legislature cannot possibly aggregate all the specific and mundane knowledge of all human interaction that occurs within the bounds of their jurisdiction necessarily means that they will lack the information required to make such decisions, and in turn means these decisions will be of far worse quality than they would have otherwise been were they left in the hands of each individual (who has far more information of his or her circumstances than planners could ever hope to) to spontaneously and voluntarily decide for herself.

Furthermore, the Alabama legislature does not own me. It cannot, nor will it ever, have the authority to tell me, or any other individual, what we can and cannot do with our bodies. We own ourselves, and are therefore free to utilize our bodies as we see fit, so long as it does not directly and tangibly harm others. Thus, the Alabama legislature has no moral or logical authority on which to ground banning me or anyone else from consuming any substance, period.

Nothing is more irritating than a do-gooder who believes they know how to further your own welfare better than you do. Yet, when we gather the worst of these types of people en masse, we call these nanny-state proponents a “legislature” and praise them to no end. These people derive a feeling of moral superiority and pretension from being able to proclaim at the top of their lungs from the highest mountaintop that they have taken steps to “protect you from yourself” and to “improve the general welfare.” These supercilious micro-managers of human affairs cause an enormous amount of harm, and one would be hard-pressed to find an example of them doing good.

 

Some of the most heinous acts in history have been committed under the auspices of the best of intentions. The danger of a group of individuals who wield a monopoly on the use of force and believe in their own good intentions cannot be understated. This kratom ban is a perfect example: short-sighted legislators who crave the ability to ride their moral high horse back to their constituents have now made it such that one can be stopped at the point of a gun for imbibing a liquid that provides feelings of pain relief and relaxation and offers a safer alternative to recovering opioid addicts.

But by all means, Alabama legislature, thank you for protecting us from ourselves. We needed it.