Drug Policy

What Will Drugs Be Like After Prohibition? Q&A with Hamilton Morris

The host of Hamilton's Pharmacopeia is already exploring what a post-prohibition world is going to look like.


What will American drug culture look like once prohibition is finally over and we can start to use more drugs in more settings?

No one is better situated to start that conversation than Hamilton Morris, the 32-year-old host of Hamilton's Pharmacopeia, a show that explores what sorts of drugs are available, how they work, and how we might best use them to fulfill our hopes and dreams. 

In one early episode, Morris confounds the conventional wisdom by telling "a positive story about PCP," a drug that even legalizers typically have nothing good to say about. He visits with Timothy Wyllie, an artist and visionary who uses the drug as part of his creative process. In another, he travels to the Brazilian Amazon, where locals get high on a drug taken from frogs. In a third, he gains access to an abandoned laboratory in a volcano that was once central to the production of MDMA.

Morris also does laboratory work at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where he and his collaborators create new drugs for testing and research trials. He sat down with Reason to talk how the drug war has warped the discussion about legal and illegal drugs and what the post-prohibition landscape will look like.

To watch a video version of this interview, go here.

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  1. …Morris confounds the conventional wisdom by telling “a positive story about PCP,” a drug that even legalizers typically have nothing good to say about.

    About a time in the 80’s where he was able to punch through a car windshield and not feel it for hours.

  2. What will it be like after prohibition? It will fucking suck as various degenerates destroy themselves with drugs. It will just suck slightly less than now because we won’t be paying to keep these degenerates in jail. Libertarians are pissing in the wind if they think ending prohibition is going to usher in some golden age. It won’t. Things will still suck, they will just suck in a slightly different way and most importantly you won’t be paying for it.

    1. It could be immensely better if the American people – drug addicts, functional drug users and straightedges alike – gradually regain any of the constitutional protections lost to the drug war.

      1. the constitutional protections lost to the drug war.

        You mean, the constitutional protections lost to the Wars on Drugs, Terrorism, Human Trafficking, Offended Feelings, and Whatever Else Is Deemed Necessary?

    2. John – what drugs? Marijuana, heroin, or something else?

      I’ve smoked pot since I was 15 but I’ve never used heroin. Of course there is a difference between the two but the federal government classifies both as a Schedule I drug.

    3. John’s right in that some of the benefits of repeal have been oversold. One that was heard a lot 50 years ago was that crime would decline enormously once “addicts” no longer had to steal to feed their habits. For one thing, they overblew the amount of crime that was committed by “addicts”. For another, they overblew the amount of crime that “addicts” needed to commit to support their habits. However, I haven’t heard this type of sales job for repeal in decades.

      They also said violent crime would diminish as drugs entered the legal market where disputes could be settled legally. That’s not completely wrong, but it’s still been overestimated, and as violent crime has decreased in recent years one hears that sales job for repeal much less.

      The association drug use and drug dealing has with criminality is pretty simple: that if you leave the business to criminals, people who were already prone to criminality would take it up; and that irresponsible drug consumption is done by people who do other irresponsible things, such as criminal acts. Put drugs in the legal market, and the criminals would just find other crimes to commit. You’d get a diminution of crime, but a slight one that might not even be noticed with other factors in play.

      However, some benefits of repeal have been, if anything, undersold. Scientific experimentation has been held back by restrictions on access to chemicals such as to discourage anybody who isn’t affiliated with a largish institution; there would’ve been the equivalent of the computer revolution in biochemical research had people been encouraged to experiment in their garages the way they were with semiconductors. By now we would’ve had hangover-free booze equivalents, and nicotine delivery systems like vaping would’ve been well accepted by now, had there not been discouragement of development of non-medical psychoactives. There would’ve been by now safer alternatives to androgenic drugs for athletic performance enhancement had such non-medical developments not been legally stymied for over 30 years.

      Society also would not be wasting resources on “addiction treatment” to anywhere near the degree we are now, as people came to realize drugs were no exception to the development of harmful habits. Once it was realized that the demand for “addiction treatment”, rather than expanding greatly with repeal, instead plummeted, the lesson might even have expanded to encompass drinking problems. The “addiction” model would have been dealt a severe blow.

    4. Yeah, well, I’m not concerned if it sucks for the people stupid enough to destroy themselves with drugs. Being stupid sucks, no government program can change that.

      I’m just concerned that we stop spreading the suck to people who have the sense to NOT use them. Which is what Prohibition Mark II has been doing.

    1. Bummer.
      Sometimes when I click on the count ballon, or whatever it’s called, nothing happens.

    2. Too bad… my comment was glowing praise for the subject and the interview. Oh well…..

  3. keeping drugs illegal as some sort of criminal jobs program seems like a bad idea as well as morally questionable. Same with keeping them illegal to keep a ‘good guys’ jobs program going.

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