Criminal Justice

Want to Reform the Criminal Justice System? End the Drug War.

Drug prohibition increases conflict between citizens and the police.


Protesters say America's criminal justice system is unfair.

It is.

Courts are so jammed that innocent people plead guilty to avoid waiting years for a trial. Lawyers help rich people get special treatment. A jail stay is just as likely to teach you crime as it is to help you get a new start. Overcrowded prisons cost a fortune and increase suffering for both prisoners and guards.

There's one simple solution to most of these problems: End the war on drugs.

Our government has spent trillions of dollars trying to stop drug use.

It hasn't worked. More people now use more drugs than before the "war" began.

What drug prohibition did do is exactly what alcohol prohibition did a hundred years ago: increase conflict between police and citizens.

"It pitted police against the communities that they serve," says neuroscientist Carl Hart in my new video. Hart, former chair of Columbia University's Psychology department, grew up in a tough Miami neighborhood where he watched crack cocaine wreck lives. When he started researching drugs, he assumed that research would confirm the damage drugs did.

But "one problem kept cropping up," he says in his soon-to-be-released book, Drug Use For Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, "the evidence did not support the hypothesis. No one else's evidence did either."

After 20 years of research, he concluded, "I was wrong." Now, he says, our drug laws do more harm than drugs.

Because drug sales are illegal, profits from selling drugs are huge. Since sellers can't rely on law enforcement to protect their property, they buy guns and form gangs.

Cigarettes harm people, too, but there are no violent cigarette gangs—no cigarette shootings—even though nicotine is more addictive than heroin, says our government. That's because tobacco is legal. Likewise, there are no longer violent liquor gangs. They vanished when prohibition ended.

But what about the opioid epidemic? Lots of Americans die from overdoses!

Hart blames the drug war for that, too. Yes, opioids are legal, but their sale is tightly restricted.

"If drugs were over the counter, there would be fewer deaths?" I asked.

"Of course," he responds. "People die from opioids because they get tainted opioids….That would go away if we didn't have this war on drugs. Imagine if the only subject of any conversation about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes….So it is with the opioid epidemic."

Drugs do harm many people, but in real life, replies Hart, "I know tons of people who do drugs; they are public officials, captains of industry, and they're doing well. Drugs, including nicotine and heroin, make people feel better. That's why they are used."

President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. America's drug war funds a prison-industrial complex. Hart says his years inside the well-funded research side of that complex showed him that any research not in support of the "tough-on-drugs" ideology is routinely dismissed to "keep outrage stoked" and funds coming in.

America locks up more than 2 million Americans. That's a higher percentage of our citizens, disproportionately black citizens, than any other country in the world.

"In every country with a more permissive drug regime, all outcomes are better," says Hart. Countries like Switzerland and Portugal, where drugs are decriminalized, "don't have these problems that we have with drug overdoses."

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drug use. Instead of punishing drug users, they offer medical help. Deaths from overdoses dropped sharply. In 2017, Portugal had only 4 deaths per million people. The United States had 217 per million.

"In a society, you will have people who misbehave, says Hart. "But that doesn't mean you should punish all of us because someone can't handle this activity."

He's right. It's time to end the drug war.


NEXT: Don’t Let the Pandemic Kill Religious Freedom

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  1. Ending the drug war is too simple and provides too few opportunities for feeding at the trough of graft. That is why no one is proposing it. Significant portions of the affected communities also continue to think it is helping.

    Also, “first.”

    1. Finally, my paycheck is $ 8,500? A working 10 hours per week online. My brother’s friend had an average of 12K for several months, he work about 22 hours a week. I can not believe how easy it is, once I try to do so..  Read More.


      “The Surprising Reason the U.S. May Be Reluctant to Legalize Marijuana
      It’s all about the green. No, the other green.”

      Feds have their fingers too deep in the tax bowl here! Out-take from above, imported below…

      Essentially, 280E is designed to keep businesses that sell a Schedule I or II substance (marijuana is classified as Schedule I) from taking normal corporate deductions or credits. With the exception of cost of goods sold, U.S. cannabis companies are unable to take normal corporate deductions on their federal tax filing.

      Why’s this important? Without the ability to take normal deductions, marijuana businesses are exposed to an extraordinarily high effective tax rate that the Internal Revenue Service has no qualms about collecting.

      Here’s the crux: legalizing marijuana no longer exposes pot companies to 280E and its high effective tax rate, but it also doesn’t generate nearly as much taxable income for the federal government, even if a federal tax is added to legal weed sales. Keep in mind that adding yet another tax to legal marijuana would mean that some consumers will shift their buying habits away from legal channels and toward the black market due to cost.

      In other words, the status quo of marijuana being illegal at the federal level with more and more states legalizing has become highly profitable for the federal government. That’s a big reason there’s a reluctance to legalize.

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    3. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I used to buy powdered opium when I had stomach problems. I bought it in the US and in Mexico. One side-effect was that all my back pain from heavy construction work disappeared.
      Finally the powerful, “religious” jerks figured it out and hastily banned the drug entirely.
      There’s a great website for learning about the global use of “illegal” drugs. The data are amazing. The site is The people of the world are buying drugs at an incredible rate. By any democratic principle, they are ‘voting with their feet.’ There’s a lot of misery in this world, in life. The right drugs can bring a degree of relief. Take a look at the site. Not with a phone — you’ll need a computer. You’ll also discover exactly what is and what isn’t killing us.

      1. Wow, great dynamic counters. Thank you.

    4. legalize drug laws. Then anyone who Over doses,I guess you are going to die. ,gets shot durning a deal gone wrong,guess you are going to die. People get caught stealing to feed there habit get what they get. If you get caught stealing to feed your drug habit I guess a minimum of 10 years will help you break you’re habit. If your mom is going to loose her house because you have been giving her drug money, the house will be seized. because sales isn’t legalized only possession.

  2. Compare the best arguments for legalization against the shanty towns in San Francisco and you realize the pro-legalization crowd will always come up short.

    For what ever percentage of people who use drugs discreetly, the face of drug use will always be a toothless meth head robbing stores, and there is no way the public will accept that.

    Nevermind the libertarian ethos of free to destroy your life vs. offering state treatment for addicts being irreconcilable (My taxes! Spent on what?), and the conversation is going nowhere without being able to address second order effects of legalization.

    1. We could talk about Portugal, and how drug abuse and addiction actually decreased in that country after legalization. We could talk about how waging the drug war is more expensive than any treatment programs that could ever be proposed.

      1. Except, they don’t have legalization. What they did was to remove all penalties, civil and criminal IIRC, for simple possession. They still take your drugs away if they catch you with them, and the same penalties as before apply to the business.

        1. This still goes a really long way in remedying the problem that Stossel is talking about. Namely giving the state less of an excuse to just feed as many bodies as possible to the prison complex.

    2. On a practical level I think you are right. It is too easy for demagogic politicians to stampede the public with scary stories of “the meth heads are coming to rape your wimmin”.

      If we ever get to the point of seriously discussing genuine legalization of more than just pot, the discussion will inevitably be about the terms associated with legalization. Will there be state-run methadone clinics? Will the homeless addicts just get locked up for vagrancy instead of for drug use?

      Ultimately I think legalization should be approached with a spirit of compassion, respect, and dignity for all individuals. Treating addicts as less-than-human even if drugs are legal is not helpful IMO.

      1. It is too easy for demagogic politicians to stampede the public with scary stories of

        …“the meth heads are coming to rape your wimmin”
        …immigrants are coming to take your jobs
        …the virus is going to kill millions
        …global warming will make Earth uninhabitable
        …guns cause thousands of killings

        The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
        H L Mencken

        1. …Republicans will put you back in chains
          …Trump will start a nuclear war
          …Republicans want to kill grandma
          …Reagan/Bush/Bush/Trump will make abortion illegal
          …school choice will kill public schools

          ….Just about anything Pelosi utters

          1. Kudos BigT, ya GOT it!!!

            1. No, Mencken got it 90 years ago. I just read what smart and interesting people have written and take valuable lessons therefrom. And occasionally see how they are playing out in today’s world.

          2. Marxist Jeffy, De Oppresso Loser (I repeat myself) and his white night are all for it. Now, don’t get me wrong, they don’t support it. But it’s gonna happen anyway, so lay back, try to relax, and enjoy it. And they support it.

            1. “Marxist” lol
              And you have the nerve to call me a liar when you lie about me and your opponents day in and day out. You can’t be bothered to actually discuss issues, just accuse them of Marxist tyranny!

          3. You forgot:

            …Democrats will send you to gulags and death camps
            …Democrats will ban cars and ban cows
            …Democrats will impose Marxist socialism
            …Democrats hate you and want you to suffer

            You know, just about anything right wing media says about Democrats.

            Yes Team Blue launches their fair share of demagoguery against Team Red (and libertarians too) but don’t pretend that it is just a one-way street.

            1. Except 3 of those are realistic and have been alluded to by actual elected Donkeys.

              I haven’t seen any death camp recommendations lately.

        2. The worst part is, the constant barrage of those imaginary hobgoblins can, over time, make them less imaginary.

          Call someone an asshole everyday for years and years, and I’ll bet he eventually becomes an asshole, at least when he sees you. So it goes with “racist,” “white supremacist,” or any characteristic, really. I guess then you can at least pride yourself of combating the monster you created.

      2. Take a person shitting on the street and work through what happens to them in a post-legalization world.

        If they have a rap sheet 20 miles long for mostly non-violent offenses, do you still jail them? If they are having meth psychosis but refuse treatment, can you involuntarily commit them? What about other mental conditions (keep in mind it was a favorite tactic of the Soviets to label all dissidents mentally ill)?

        Is methadone really better if heroin is more cheaply available (and would that be offered at a state facility)? What if you have the means to support your habit but are still psychologically a mess, does the state have the right to intervene? Should the state intervene?

        If memory serves, the addiction rate hovers around 10% with the VAST majority of people working through their experimentation phase with little to no ill effects. Can the state justify a drug policy where only a minority has significantly adverse outcomes?

        And square all of that within the confines of the NAP, and is the libertarian case for legalization still publicly palatable?

        1. If someone is defecating in the street, you can jail them for doing that (either as a public health hazard or as a particularly gross form of littering) regardless of whether their underlying reason was methadone addiction, mental illness or just a really stupid college prank.

          Involuntary commitment is a more difficult question. On the one hand, the NAP demands that we respect the right of people to be responsible for their own actions. On the other hand, some levels of mental illness violate that assumption – their illness makes them unable to be responsible for their own actions. Yet as you point out, there is a great moral hazard is allowing the the government to make that determination.

          But I don’t see how that affects your analysis of drug legalization. The minority of folks who are addicted because of their mental illness are (or maybe are not) eligible for involuntary commitment because of the mental illness whether or not they also have an addiction.

        2. If they have a rap sheet 20 miles long for mostly non-violent offenses, do you still jail them? If they are having meth psychosis but refuse treatment, can you involuntarily commit them? What about other mental conditions (keep in mind it was a favorite tactic of the Soviets to label all dissidents mentally ill)?

          Well, if the offenses were non-violent, I would question whether they ought to be criminal offenses in the first place. And if someone is exhibiting distinct neurological problems, regardless of source, that person deserves some sort of help, yes. Involuntary confinement ought to be regarded only a a recourse of last resort, regardless of how the mental state was arrived at (via mental illness or drug use or some other way).

          Is methadone really better if heroin is more cheaply available (and would that be offered at a state facility)?

          The point of methadone is to break a person’s opioid addiction, regardless if the opioid is legal or not. If someone wants to break their heroin habit, that is when methadone would be an option. If not, then keep taking the heroin. So it depends on what the user/addict desires.

          Personally I would be okay with state-run methadone facilities as a reasonable price to pay for easing up on the drug war but I am sure others will disagree.

          More broadly though I think one way to sell ending the drug war to the larger public as a way to find help for suffering people in a way that can’t be accomplished today. Throwing addicts in jail doesn’t help them get better, it only makes them worse. Yes there are “drug courts” and the like but that is still using law enforcement as a means for drug treatment. It also squares nicely with the current discussion to “defund the police” (as stupid as that title is) in discussing whether law enforcement, or the criminal justice system generally, really ought to be tasked with being drug counselors. It shouldn’t be their job.

      3. If my tax dollars are being spent on welfare and rehabilitation, couldn’t it also be spent on incarceration?

    3. But what the public will accept is the old drugs given new names, pronounced as safe by the authorities, and sold OTC. It must be done completely cynically and in a way that there’s no popular input on.

      1. And who will manufacture and sell the newly named and legalized drugs? People will still kill themselves by overdosing and their grieving survivors will sue the manufacturers and distributors into oblivion. We get all the hard drugs we want now now because nobody sues the mobs and gangs. It will be narco mobs and gangs producing the legalized stuff too, with the usual inter-mob wars.

        1. Just like the Prohibition-era alcohol gangs dominated the beverage industry after repeal – NOT!

          1. Weird, I could’ve sworn Ed Bronfman used to be a big bootlegger, back in the day. Joe Kennedy senior, as well. Shame they never went legit…

          2. The Sackler family would like a word with you. And that drug was legal.

        2. Merck. Bayer. Pfizer.

          1. Sure. The big drug companies are hot to get sued by the survivors of those who overdose. Take a look at the Sackler family’s troubles. You can be sure big pharma has.

    4. I see your point, qsl. It’s one I’ve become more aligned with in the last few years, versus the ‘legalize it all, NOW!’ view I had many years ago when I first started visiting this site.

      I think you reconcile the desire to end the War On Some Drugs with the desire to not then be hip deep in derelicts, by bringing back the asylums, and allowing things like flophouses to return. Cut off welfare, and let charity fill the vacuum.

      Crazy people can’t manage their own affairs, and while they are in much more danger from their lifestyle than are the normal people around them, the violently insane can be a significant threat to the rest of us. For addicts who aren’t insane, well, we’ve always had Skid Row for drunks. Now, we’ll have it for drunks and drug addicts.

      Despite the likely social problems from widespread drug legalization, Prohibition’s effects on the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and liberty for the citizenry as a whole is still far worse. I’m just cautioning that life will not magically get better for everyone if all drugs were made legal today, and that there are going to be tradeoffs we won’t like. Such is life, though.

    5. It’s already illegal to rob a store, no matter why you do it. And a toothless meth head is going to be doing that regardless of whether it’s legal to use meth. The war on drugs hasn’t addressed any of problems that drug users cause for other people because it doesn’t stop drug users from using. It just creates new problems and funnels people into jail/prison where their addictions are enabled. We could dismantle the war on drugs and spend half that money on policing violent crime and the other half on rehabilitation and we’d be so much better off in every way. As a libertarian I’d prefer it if the state stopped spending the drug war money altogether, but we all know that’s a non-starter.

      1. The War on Drugs has however addressed one public concern- for as long as the meth head is in jail, they won’t be robbing any stores. And as you put it, the meth head is going to do it anyway, so why not keep them in jail?

        I wonder if the approach to legalization isn’t maybe backwards. If there was treatment for addiction readily available to where the fringes weren’t so visible, would the public be so vociferous against legalization?

        But could you see libertarians arguing for on-demand treatment as passionately as they argue for legalization? Would they support what would be presumed as savings on policing being spent now on social programs, or put up or shut-up and massively fund charitable organizations that offer treatment so few would do without?

        Another part of the legalization problem is that it is asking the public to jump into waters unknown, with hand-waving that charities will somehow make it work after the fact.

        Don’t be surprised if few are willing to take you up on that offer.

        1. But could you see libertarians arguing for on-demand treatment as passionately as they argue for legalization?

          In today’s climate? Not really. But it is not out of the question however.

          A little story: I first heard about libertarian philosophy in the 1990’s. Before Trump, before Obama, before Ron Paul, before W. Bush and the GWOT, before any of that. My understanding of libertarianism then, and has carried with me through today, was that libertarian philosophy was the only philosophy which stood for the dignity and respect for each single individual. Every other one was collectivist to a greater or lesser degree, threw people into groups and lumped them in together and told them what was best for them regardless of their individual circumstances. That was wrong, and libertarian ideas offered a way for the state to respect each individual’s choices without suffocating collectivism. I call that a type of “Humanist Libertarianism”. This type of libertarianism would be totally okay with selling a program of drug legalization centered around respecting the dignity and self-worth of every single individual, especially addicts who are harmed by the current system.

          What I see a lot of today, however, is a bunch of self-absorbed libertarians who are primarily only interested in seeing their desires and goals advanced, and have little sympathy for the desires and goals for others. “I want MY rights protected, I want to keep MY tax money, I want to shoot MY guns, I want to do what *I* want, and screw all the rest of you, I don’t give a shit if you live or die.” I refer to that as “Misanthropic Libertarianism”. This type of libertarian would be fine with drug legalization because it would mean *they* would get to use their drugs of choice but would have contempt for the addicts out there ‘polluting the streets’. They are refuse, vermin, who ought to be thrown in jail anyway for breaking a bunch of other laws but deserve no sympathy for their poor choices. I don’t think this type of message will sell very well because it is scarcely different from the status quo.

          1. So, if we take a “Humanist Libertarian” approach to selling drug legalization, it could work. But a “Misanthropic Libertarian” approach won’t.

            1. You’ve crystallized it far better than me, but I, too have recognized and pondered that distinction at length!

              I first conceived of the paradigm after listening to Neil Boortz for a few years. He was a token ‘libertarian’ on a heavily neoconservative radio station (probably intended as a spoiler to keep wayward conservatives on the Republican plantation), and I termed him a ‘hooray-for-me-and-fuck-you libertarian.’ He seemed utterly devoid of compassion and his primary love seemed to be money, not actual liberty. He loved ragging on the homeless and simply came across as a misanthrope, in other words!

    6. If drugs were legal, sort of like alcohol, then purchaser would be certain of dosage and the drugs themselves would be far less expensive – of course, if the states don’t tax the shit out of them.
      Less expensive drugs at least mean that those who commit crimes to pay for their habit will have to spend less time doing so. A $200 per day habit suddenly converted to a $25 dollar a day habit means more time wasted, less time looking for easy cash.
      Also. with known dosages, overdoses can be seen as suicides. Let them die.

      1. Case in point of the ‘misanthropic libertarian!’

        People do regularly accidentally OD on drugs with known dosages. There are many ways this can happen, from mislabeling, interactions, etc. My sister died that way, in fact. You seem to support legalization, which (in my opinion) is good, but writing everyone off as a suicide and saying “fuck it, let ’em die” because they took certain ‘bad’ drugs is not exactly a recipe for success.

  3. Not one talking head has mentioned drugs this whole time.

    1. Not even David Byrne?

      1. He’s just letting the days go by…

        As far as rolling back government intrusion into our private lives goes, good luck with that. You’re gonna need it.

      2. Drugs turned him into a psycho killer.

        1. He’s got a girlfriend that’s better than that.

    2. It really is glaring how absolutely none of them are talking about it, isn’t it.

      1. Perhaps more glaring and bizarre is how none of the “protesters” are.

        1. They want to protect their turf from legal incursions!

    3. That’s what they always do. Divert from the real problem to address “racism” instead. They don’t want a solution. They want an issue with which to bludgeon their political opponents.

  4. Amen.

  5. The drug war is not only stupid, it’s a foundation of the authoritarian state. It’s supposed to PROTECT us??

    If I choose to, I can inject motor oil into my veins, swallow bleach, and snort Comet cleanser. All of those substances are way more immediately destructive than any drug, but it’s my body, my choice, and my own stupidity if I want to do that. So don’t f—in tell me about how drugs must be kept illegal “for the children.” Be honest and admit it’s an authority thing.

    1. ^ This

    2. Just don’t try to huff 410A, government now makes us put locking caps on your A/C to keep you away from that sweet sweet refrigerant high.

      1. Thanks for the tip!!

  6. Finally, my paycheck is $ 8,500? A working 10 hours per week online. My brother’s friend had an average of 12K for several months, he work about 22 hours a week. I can not believe how easy it is, once I try to do so..  Read More.

  7. I have a feelz that someday someone will somehow develop the perfect drug and it shall be called medicine. Seriously there’s no good reason why this can’t happen.

    1. “A gram in time saves nine.”

      1. Nice. Especially if you’ve read “The Gulag Archipelago.”

  8. We often argue that ending the Drug War will reduce crime, but I’m getting surprising pushback in the form of “If you legalize drugs, criminals will just find other crimes to commit.” Call this the hydraulic model of crime, or the hydraulic fallacy. Obviously some criminals will still make use of their criminal skills and networks, but, with criminal opportunities reduced, some criminals will obviously will find that their best opportunities happen to be legal. Is there any data to back this up? A previous Reason article showed that prohibition drove homicide, but did not examine other crimes;

    1. “If you legalize drugs, criminals will just find other crimes to commit.”

      No shit. Criminals gonna criminal. Why punish non-criminals?

      1. New markets! Innovation! Entrepreneurs!

        What’s not to like?

    2. Well, there is some truth to the claim. The Drug War created the drug culture and at this point, we’ve raised a generation (or more) of people who have no useful skills other than supporting that lifestyle. If you legalized all drugs, those people would have to find some other way to put food on the table so yes, some fraction of them probably would switch to other crimes. That’s why the article you cite said that the murder rate “began to drift downward” after the Prohibition repeal. The drug warriors on both sides have to die off.

      Despite that, repealing the Drug War is still the right long-term fix.

      Unfortunately, no, I’m not aware of any reliable analysis of trends in other crimes. Perhaps you could run your own analysis based on the FBI crimes databases? Might be hard to trust the data, though. Murders are discrete, easy to identify and high profile. Reporting to the FBI was probably reasonably consistent even that far back. I’d question the quality of their data for lesser crimes.

    3. Prohibition obviously increased crime, which means people who weren’t previously criminals became criminals. And the reverse also happened – the end of prohibition led to many of those criminals returning to being law-abiding citizens.

      Why do people pretend drug prohibition is any different?

    4. How much crime is due to the drug trade being illegal, with all of the assorted dispute resolution mechanisms being necessarily violent? Versus how much of it is simply ‘Some Ghetto Shit’, where members of a violent honor culture choose to settle disputes with violence rather than ignoring it or finding other means to satisfy the wrong?

      I used to think the first set dominated most inner city crime, and most crime period. Now? I don’t think that’s the case. Even if drugs were magically legalized today with a wave of my sceptre, you’d still have a shitload of crime in that culture, because that’s how that culture settles disputes.

      Changing the criminal status of drugs isn’t going to change that culture.

      1. Even if drugs were magically legalized today with a wave of my sceptre, you’d still have a shitload of crime in that culture, because that’s how that culture settles disputes.

        Legalization would severely reduce the number of disputes that are serious enough ($$$) for people to resort to violence. Many who need weapons to protect themselves because they carry lots of cash would have less need for those guns, reducing the number of ‘accidents’ or other incidental uses of guns just because they happen to be conveniently available.

        Yes, you’d still get some who get violent when disrespected, but fewer would escalate to shootings. Not zero.

    5. The distinction between “criminal” and “business man” is ever so slight. If you cut hair without a license, you are still a criminal, and some gangs offer compensation packages that rival Fortune 500 companies. Make no mistake, they are still a business.

      Pulling straight out of my ass, I’d surmise many criminals respond to incentive structures like any other business and conclude the risk/reward for drugs is just too great. If another, legal, venture with similar profitability were available to them, don’t you think they would take it? Why risk getting shot if there is a legal means to acquire that much wealth (especially with low overhead costs)?

      And you can see that trend with previous mobsters who ultimately transitioned to legal businesses. Once you’ve acquired a degree of wealth, legal businesses are a less risky means to continue to build upon.

      In an economic sense, drug laws are best seen as regulatory capture.

    6. We must think about the criminals job prospects. Illegal drugs is a make work program to keep criminals occupied doing not such bad criminal things! We must not stop it, otherwise what will the criminals do?

  9. “Protesters say America’s criminal justice system is unfair.

    It is.

    Courts are so jammed that innocent people plead guilty to avoid waiting years for a trial. Lawyers help rich people get special treatment. A jail stay is just as likely to teach you crime as it is to help you get a new start. Overcrowded prisons cost a fortune and increase suffering for both prisoners and guards.”

    Now replace the words “criminal justice system” with “social justice system” (present and future).

    1. In a social justice system, nobody would have to wait years for a trial, on account of the verdict being predetermined.

  10. no need to reforms already system is good but need to implement

  11. This just sounds like happy talk to me. If crack cocaine is wrecking lives now, will that end with legalization? Also, how long will it take after legalizing drugs to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of taking drugs? You know very well that there will continue to be abuse of drug taking and that will be protected by the government. The examples of other nations are interesting, but not dispositive. We are a different nation and culture.

    1. If crack cocaine is wrecking lives now, will that end with legalization?

      If crack is wrecking lives now, will that end with continued criminalization?

      Also, how long will it take after legalizing drugs to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of taking drugs?

      Our nation’s war on freedom of association is a different issue, of which the war on drugs is just a component.

  12. It’s funny how fiscal/social conservatives criticize the welfare state, but see spending $30K a year incarcerating someone for drug possession as sound policy.

    1. Especially since that person is probably still doing drugs while in jail.

  13. End the drug war is just the beginning. Declare the BAR Association Cartel to be the Terrorist organization that it is.

  14. One thing I’ve been looking for for years is a data source estimating the number of people who use various drugs without falling into addiction or having obvious signs of abuse (lost job, lost family ties, homelessness, etc.)

    Anybody know of such a thing?

    1. Can’t have information like that floating around, there’s a danger that reason and nuance might enter into the debate.

      1. Yeah yeah yeah. Can’t hurt to ask…

    2. No data, but here’s an indicator of what the authorities really think about this that hasn’t wavered in 40 years: the pressure for drug-testing on the job, whether or not the job involves any safety hazards. Someone who wants this obviously believes that many users of illegal drugs do just fine at their jobs. (And if someone claims it’s a safety concern, ask them when they’ll put a breathalyzer next to the time clock. There are at least 10 drunks for every illegal drug addict, and there’s no question about the dangers of drinking and operating heavy equipment, etc.)

      1. Of course common sense and experience indicate that most drugs probably cause problems at similar rates to alcohol. So, since there are plenty of people who can enjoy booze in moderation with no ill effects, there must be plenty who can enjoy cocaine in the same way. And then there are the “functional” alcoholics/drug abusers, as well, who can get by but are probably close to losing it.

        There’s really no reason to think that alcohol isn’t a fair proxy, other than it being legal.

  15. I live in Wisconsin where we can not even get medical marijuana legalized. I believe the biggest obstacle is the Republican legislature and a polarized country. It is far more important to some people to vote for Republican than to address even marijuana law reforms.

    1. Indeed there are many reactionary Heffalumps who just want to harsh someone’s buzz. Lowering the temperature of the rhetoric would help everyone. But that has ratcheted up with Donkeys increasing it and the Heffalumps responding in kind. Who will make the first move? Particularly since negative campaigning works.

      1. Who makes the first move, the voters. The essential part of negative advertisement is not that it get your candidates more votes, but rather it makes people give up and choose to not vote. You combat that by voting.

  16. End the drug war?
    Are you insane?
    The drug war has wasted billions of dollars.
    The drug war has incarcerated tens of thousands of non-violent offenders.
    The drug war have ensured people could not make decisions about ingesting drugs for themselves.
    The drug war has made damn sure cops, bureaucrats, DA’s and judges got a shitload of other people’s property through civil forfeiture laws without even having the suspect going to court.
    End the drug war?
    That makes too much sense.

  17. I’m all for ending the drug war, it’s been a huge waste of money and lives. But the bottom line is if you legalize heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine (the “hard” drugs that do the most damage to people) tomorrow, the same people producing them now (mainly Mexican cartels) will be the same people producing them tomorrow. Unless we are planning on supporting massive domestic production of drugs that destroy health and life, and lead to additional criminal behavior (both violent and property crime), we will still be in the same boat.

    1. We would need to assure potential legal producers that they would not be liable for what their customers do.

      On this issue the Donkeys have been uniquely evil, going after gun manufacturers, auto makers, distillers, etc.

    2. We already have pharmaceutical labs that mass-produce drugs that can – when abused – destroy health and life. Yet, most people buy them at the pharmacy and don’t rob or kill to get them!

      If you support ending Prohibition, then you clearly understand why fears of “more” violent crime are unfounded. The majority of drug ‘crime’ comes from labeling use, sale and possession as ‘crimes,’ and the remainder from the conditions of the black market. Plenty of people take affordable legal amphetamines (including Rx methamphetamine) and drugs far more potent than heroin, but they work and pay for them legitimately. Just taking the drugs doesn’t make them commit violent crimes.

      The DEA already has an annual quota system in place for controlled substances, including methamphetamine (for Rx) and diamorphine (for research.) Both drugs are easy to synthesize, from a chemical standpoint, and the pharmaceutical conglomerates could undercut the cartels. Just from a purity standpoint, there’d be no reason for anyone to buy potentially tainted products from the cartels.

      I do agree though, that some liability issues would have to be sorted out. People don’t sue Jack Daniels or Anheuser-Busch when they find out they need a liver transplant after decades of alcoholism. The same would need to be legally recognized for manufacturers and sellers of other legal drugs.

  18. Upvote article.

  19. There is an illegal trade of legal drugs going on. Notice that medical costs of addiction are not mentioned.

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