Nick Gillespie Debates Former DEA Head Asa Hutchinson on Drug Legalization (And Wins!)


On Wednesday, November 14, I was honored to participate in an Intelligence Squared debate in New York (check out this website to see what Intelligence Squared, a great forum for top-notch debate and discussion, is all about).

The topic was the legalization of drugs and I joined Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler in arguing for legalization. On the other side of divide: former Drug Enforcement Administration head Asa Hutchinson and Manhattan Institute fellow Theodore Dalrymple.

Click above to watch the full debate (expertly moderated by John Donvan) and go here to watch highilights and read a full transcript of the discussion. You can also listen to an NPR podcast of the debate and get times for a PBS broadcast of the same. My opening statement—in which I present myself as a conscientious objector in the war on drugs—starts around the 26-minute mark.

IQ2 events feature a pre-debate poll of the audience, followed by a post-debate poll to see which team succeeded in winning over more people to its side. I'm happy to report that on that score Butler and I won the night. Before we started talking, 45 percent were for legalization, 23 percent were against it, and 32 percent were undecided. Afterwards, the numbers were 58 percent for, 30 percent against, and 12 percent undecided.

Whatever your position on the legalization issue, I think you'll find much of value in the debate. However much I disagree with the policy prescriptions of the other side, Hutchinson and Dalrymple gave as good as they got. I only wish that legalization was debated more often, especially with people on the nay side.

Reason.com on Drug Policy here.

Here's a summary of the debate at The Fix, a site that covers drug policy and addiction issues.