In the last election, Colorado and Washington passed marijuana legalization measures; Maryland and Maine voters also approved  same sex marriage .

George Mason University student Brian Miller analyses what the election trends actually mean for the rest of the country.

It is only fitting that the Supreme Court announced it would hear cases regarding the definition of marriage only weeks after the first U.S. states have legalized the use of marijuana. From the conservative viewpoint, the debates surrounding each issue are fundamentally the same, for in both cases there is concern that an inability to exhibit the self-restraint that is necessary for self-government will only result in an invitation for government control.

On the legalization front, my opponents will no doubt point to quotes like those of William F. Buckley, who acknowledged the drug war was a failure. In this much we can agree. It has been a failure. But failure is not a reason for giving up, but rather it is a reason for reevaluating tactics.

Many have said we should embrace the Legalize Movement as a movement of liberty, and that to do otherwise is inconsistent with our hands off approach. I personally am suspicious of the “liberty” for which this movement advocates. I am reminded of the words of John Milton: “License they mean, when they cry liberty.”

Conservatives are interested in creating sustainable liberty; a type of liberty that can only be preserved in a well ordered system by self-governing individuals who practice self-restraint. History has shown that failure to do so only results in expanding government power. Nothing illustrates this more than the history of the marriage debate.

Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation correctly pointed out that long before conservatives found themselves in a debate about the definition of marriage, they were in a debate about marriage itself. Some fifty odd years ago the sexual revolution came with prophets preaching “free” sex and “free” love. Conservatives were there to point out that nothing is free, and asked who would pay for all this “free” sex. It took them awhile to respond, but we finally got our answer. This past year they sent a spokeswoman, named Sandra Fluke, to Congress. She declared that “free” sex was now too expensive, and that the government must intervene.

Miller highlights the main point with a pithy quote.

Many of my counterparts have celebrated the recent votes in Colorado and Washington State. I join with Edmund Burke, and say that before we congratulate them on being able to “do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do.”