Drug Policy Alliance

Reason.tv: Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann on the Future of Legalization


"We are making remarkable momentum with respect to changing the marijuana laws," says Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes alternatives to the war on drugs.

Reason.tv caught up with Nadelmann at the Drug Policy Alliance's re:FORM Art Auction in Los Angeles, where he pointed out that the only way to move forward on marijuana legalization is for states to start taking risks by abandoning prohibition laws and setting up the conflict with the feds.

"That's how alcohol prohibition ended, that's how marijuana prohibition and ultimately drug prohibition are going to end." 

Topics include: Grading President Obama on drug policy; the new congress's stanch on the drug war; legalization in Portugal and the future of legalization.

Interview by Ted Balaker; Shot by Hawk Jensen and Alex Manning; Edited by Paul Detrick and Jensen.

Approximately 6:30 minutes.

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  1. “We are making remarkable momentum with respect to changing the marijuana laws.”


    1. actually, he’s correct. many states have decrim’d, and the practical reality is that many people are given a verbal warning for same and never even enter the court system

      medical mj has passed in more state, etc.

      the perfect is the enemy of the good. incrementalism is better than nothing

  2. To get the legalization ball rolling in California we must first repeal prop 215. All of the “medical” MJ users were opposed to P19. It was a disgusting experience for me to watch.

    1. ACk ACK ACK. I can’t believe Reason STILL hasn’t reported the Ontario court’s decision that, by default, legalizes MJ in less than 90 days.

      1. …because what happens in the depths of the primordial wilderness has little to no meaning to those of us who live in civilization?

        1. “Because what happens in the depths of the primordial wilderness STAYS in the depths of the primordial wilderness.”

      2. Big SECONDED.

      3. Good for them, they need to smoke something up there to cope with the fact that the, over almost two decades, the Stanley Cup has spent more time in Florida than it has in Canada. Though I suspect it’s going to take something a bit stronger when their best-chance-in-years President’s Trophy winning Canucks go down. The most depressing, and hence fitting, departure will be if the Canucks. with every hockey fan in Canada pulling for them, end up losing to a southern California team like Anaheim that not even the locals care about.

    2. Repealing 215 is not the answer moving forward. 215 and subsequent legislation made it possible to get Prop 19 on the ballot and get 47%. Not all medical mj groups were opposed to Prop 19 though it was sad to see some opposed and some sit the campaign out – a lot of that sadly was behind the scenes personality fights as well as a piss poor written initiative.

      Progress on marijuana legalization/attitudes in the US culturally and politically is heartening to see and dramatic since the early 90s when I got involved – it will happen.

  3. the new congress’s stench


  4. just watch reefer madness. go head, i dare ya. is that what u want?…orgies, gluttony, wild gyrating womens tearing-off clothes…even in front of…THE KIDS!

      1. wait, did i make it clear that after just one puff the womens will fully display their milk production organs…in pubic

        1. That’s a feature, not a bug

    1. Also, the Chinese have marijuana dens where they lure white women…

    2. Is that what I have been missing? Orgies and wild women? Damn man, roll one up for me!

  5. a piss poor written initiative.

    That was a big part of the problem.

    Until the legalization movement stops fiddlefucking around and gets behind the intuitively obvious “Treat pot just like booze” position, it won’t amount to much.

    1. It exists, has found success and is growing:


  6. Until the legalization movement stops fiddlefucking around and gets behind the intuitively obvious “Treat pot just like booze” position, it won’t amount to much.

    Judging by the way legalization groups and their press spokesmen talk about alcohol, the way they want alcohol (and tobacco, and…everything except pot) to be treated is for it to be banned.

    The “reform” movement is fundamentally prohibitionist. It shows in its rhetoric, and its total resistance to unregulated commerce. You can’t get what you want from pot-Puritan busybodies.

    Remember, “repeal marijuana laws” outpolls “regulate and tax.” But they don’t push repeal, because they don’t want it. They want more law, tailored to their preferences.

    Assholes all.

    1. I’m afraid you’re right. I guess I’m thinking of an approach that will appeal to voters generally, not “reform” activists who would be out of a job if marijuana were actually legalized.

  7. Drug Policy Alliance’s re:FORM Art Auction

    I have a feeling there was more than one painting of a bag of CHEETOS?

  8. This guy is a dumbass if he honestly thought Obama was going to fully embrace rational science when it comes to marijuana legalization/decriminalization. This asshole completely rejects rational science when it comes to his friends in the radical left-wing environmentalist movement, so why would he embrace it comes to this issue?

  9. If med mj winds up succeeding as a path to marijuana legaliz’n generally, does it look feasible to take similar steps with anything else? Traditionally drugs that have achieved over-the-counter status have done so only after being marketed for a period as prescription drugs. So what would be the likely next one to follow that route, if any?

    1. Medical Coke! It already has recognized medicinal benefits as a topical anesthetic. And it could be marketed as a highly-effective, if somewhat short acting, anti-depressant. 🙂

      1. Coke is already Schedule II

    2. Heroin is legal for medical purposes in some countries (like the UK), where it is used as a more potent alternative to morphine.

      But, as heroin is the hardest of “hard” drugs, good luck with that…

    3. I must admit to having been trolling with that post. I don’t think med mj provides a workable model for similar progress with other drugs. (Mostly I just don’t know whether the progress with mj has been causal or merely a matter of parallel developments.) What I’d most like to know is whether doctors in the USA will be as free with prescribing cannabis products when they’re marketed via drug firms like GW as they have been regarding smokable product. That is, I haven’t heard of patients complaining that it’s hard to get doctors to prescribe med mj.

  10. legalization in Portugal
    Are these guys high?
    There is no drug legalization in Portugal.

  11. So well said! Thanks for the work you do, Ethan (and the rest of DPA).

  12. I want whatever this guy’s on…he’s WIRED…

  13. When was this video shot? Medical marijuana raids are on the rise.

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  15. I have to second all those calling for repealing Prop 215. For an example of why, check out this story: San Jose is trying to use 215 to ban dispensaries.

  16. Forget it. Nothing will change as long as millions of people make trillions of dollars off prohibition.

    And I am not talking about manufacturers and distributors. I am talking about the international police/court/prison/therapy industry that exists only as long as prohibition does.

    Throw in billions of seized and forfeited assets, all of which the government snatches and keeps: Prohibition will never ever go away.

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  18. ty rights, etc. seem like a more accurate measure of freedom than democracy.

  19. This plan has no merit

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