Tripped Up

Joel Miller's Bad Trip kills the government's anti-drug buzz. A Reason interview

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So I don't know that more drugs equals less crime in any causal way, but you could certainly make the argument that drug prohibition is increasing crime, and if you were to lighten up the thumbscrews on enforcement, you'd see crime drop.

Reason: Bad Trip has been marketed to a mostly conservative audience. How have right-wingers received it?

The response has been mixed. Some traditional conservatives see the overreach of government as a very ominous problem. They're ticked off about a number of overreaches of the state—recently from Republicans—and they fold this into their general disdain about the growth of government.

Others simply argue that drugs are bad and drugs need to be gotten rid of. For some reason, they can argue that the government is a poor solution for things like retirement and welfare but it's the perfect solution for dealing with drugs, even though history and practical experience say otherwise.

Reason: Why has drug legalization been such a dead letter politically?

Nobody wants to go on record as being for drugs. There's just something about, you know, "I am running for office and I support the legalization of PCP" that does not register well with voters. Voters with little historical, economic, or political insight into the drug problem are not likely to cast ballots for someone who wants to change the status quo.

Reason: How would a Kerry administration drug policy differ from Bush's, if at all?

Well, last year, Kerry said that he would stop the federal drug raids on medical marijuana patients. That would be nice. It's about time state attorneys general got some stones anyway and threw down the gauntlet to the feds on that. Some federal cooperation in stopping the harassment would be helpful.

But I don't think it would be a major switch. If there's anything that's been consistent among administrations—with the anomaly, maybe, of Carter—it's that drug prohibition is popular and well received. Kerry has already indicated support for administrative positions for people who are hardcore drug warriors. And it's really not in his best interest politically to go on the line and be against prohibition. The best we'd probably see is more of the same.

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