I tend to agree with Julian that the publication of AEI's new report on drug policy is significant. In addition to the points Julian mentions, it steps on drug warriors' toes by noting that "Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), the only widely adopted prevention program, has been repeatedly demonstrated to be ineffective"; that "even though marijuana is by far the most widely used illicit drug, its negative consequences are dwarfed by those of other drugs"; and that "most people who try illicit drugs use them only a few times and neither suffer nor cause any serious identifiable damage." And that's just in the introduction.
One author of the report is Peter Reuter, a data-driven drug policy scholar who has long approached the status quo with skepticism, taking a neither-hawk-nor-dove stance on the drug war. (The 2001 book he co-authored with Robert J. MacCoun is titled Drug War Heresies.) The other author of the AEI report is David Boyum, who has served on the board of the Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin, published by the American Federation of Scientists, which is not shy about criticizing current policy either. So AEI must have known when it commissioned the report that it would not get the sort of prohibitionist cheerleading the Heritage Foundation tends to produce.
Which lends more significance to something I heard at AEI's recent annual dinner. When the keynote speaker, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, regretted that "repression takes priority over persuasion in the war on drugs," maybe a dozen people in an audience of 1,500 or so applauded. A witness later informed me that AEI President Christopher DeMuth was one of them.