No public good can be derived from passing laws that legalize marijuana use, and Republicans should say so. With legalization taking effect in Colorado and reports that New York and possibly Florida plan to loosen their marijuana laws, the best we can hope for is that these laws are written in a way that will protect the innocent as much as possible. Soon we will no doubt be seeing reports of crime resulting from the marijuana business — driving citations and problems with underage access, for instance. These are already problems associated with alcohol. Without question, more human tragedy and ruined lives will result from marijuana legalization.

It’s not good policy to facilitate the opportunity for more inebriated people to wander among us. Even my friend Ruth Marcus, who is not exactly a conservative commentator, has said that “widespread legalization is a bad idea,” particularly because of the known negative impact that smoking marijuana can have on adolescents and their development. In a column she cited a 2012 study that found that “persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning.”

Republicans need to be clear on where they stand on this issue. We shouldn’t think up reasons to do the wrong thing to try to look hip or appeal to reckless youth. If Democrats think they have found an issue for 2014, let them be the ones to promise more pot to the population.

And spare me the talk about personal freedom being at stake. You aren’t more free if you are a pothead, and freedom isn’t measured by marijuana consumption.

Ed Rogers is a Republican strategist and a contributor to The Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog.

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