A Drug Problem

“The War on Drugs has been too long and too disgustingly failed and far too destructive.” -Jack Cole

Although I quit Dan Savage cold turkey a few months ago, but I stumbled upon this article awhile ago and thought it was interesting. His commentary is amusing:

“The bomb-throwing, bong-sucking radicals at the Economist call for an end to the war on drugs—legalize all of ’em, tax ’em, regulate ’em, put criminal syndicates out of business, treat addiction as a health problem and not a criminal problem, and stop pretending that “harm-reduction” models—”prohibition-lite”—will solve the roblem.”

The Economist did, as it has done in the past, argue for the legalization of all drugs. While The Economist isn’t a “liberal rag,” it certainly leans libertarian and it even points to it’s own ideology when conveying the argument:

“There are two main reasons for arguing that prohibition should be scrapped all the same. The first is one of liberal principle. Although some illegal drugs are extremely dangerous to some people, most are not especially harmful. (Tobacco is more addictive than virtually all of them.) Most consumers of illegal drugs, including cocaine and even heroin, take them only occasionally. They do so because they derive enjoyment from them (as they do from whiskey or a Marlboro Light). It is not the state’s job to stop them from doing so.”

While I’m certainly not saying that, on principle, I disagree with The Economist‘s point, I don’t think that ideology should override solid public policy. It frustrates me that this was included as part of their argument. There is plenty of evidence to support legalization, so why even toss in the “liberal principle” stuff?

Anther organization, The CATO Institute, also has libertarian leanings. And yet it produced a report about Portugal, a county which decriminalized drugs in 2001. Essentially, personal possession and use are administrative offensive but distribution is still considered a criminal offense. This report finds:

Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.”

We need decriminalization here. The “War on Drugs” is costly, inefficient, and does little to positively benefit society. And we need it because it is good public policy, not because of political ideology.

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