Where Have All the Drug Warriors Gone?


Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, just sent me a link to the tape of his "debate" with journalist Richard Poe at last February's CPAC conference. It's only eight minutes long and is worth a listen because otherwise you might not believe me when I say there was no controversy whatsoever about the war on drugs, the ostensible topic of the exchange.

Poe, who works for David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, spent his three minutes arguing that Nadelmann was not the right person to deliver the anti-prohibitionist message to the conservative movement because DPA is funded by George Soros. I'd say it was an attempt to undermine Nadelmann's argument by questioning his motives, except that Poe, a self-described libertarian who cited Murray Rothbard as a major intellectual influence, also opposes the war on drugs.

Confused? So was the audience. The first question was from a puzzled fellow who challenged Poe to explain the libertarian argument in favor of prohibition. Poe responded by reiterating that he opposes the war on drugs and thinks there is broad support for reform among conservatives.

Given my own difficulties in finding people willing to debate me on the drug issue, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that no one wanted to go up against Nadelmann except a guy who agreed with him. Still, it's remarkable that the organizers of a major conservative conference apparently could not find a single person who was willing to publicly defend the war on drugs.