Reason Podcast

Beyond Pot Legalization: 21st Century Drug Policy Is about Wellness and Happiness: Podcast

Jacob Sullum, Dana Rohrabacher, and Adrian Moore talk about the next steps in ending the war on drugs at Reason's 50th anniversary celebration.


Without a doubt, one of the biggest policy wins for Reason since our debut in 1968 has been the legalization of marijuana in the United States. Currently, 10 states and the District of Columbia allow use for recreational purposes and another 33 allow its use as medicine. Donald Trump has even indicated that he'd sign legislation turning control of pot over to the states.

So when Reason celebrated its 50th anniversary in November, we put together a panel devoted to talking about how drug policy has changed over the years, the difficulties in actually implementing legalization, and how drugs the government still considers "illicit"—LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, and more—are now being talked about not simply as ways to get high but as means to increase mental health, happiness, and well-being.

The panelists included:

  • Adrian Moore, Ph.D., who runs the research division of Reason Foundation and consults with cities and states that are implementing marijuana legalization
  • Dana Rohrabacher, a longtime Republican member of Congress who consistently pushed to end the federal war on pot
  • Jacob Sullum, a Reason senior editor who has written about drug policy for years and is the author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use

We pick up the conversation, which I moderated, as Adrian Moore begins his comments.

We'll be releasing more panels from our anniversary celebration over the coming weeks. For a discussion of whether the First Amendment is flourishing or fading (featuring the ACLU's Nadine Strossen, the Volokh Conspiracy's Eugene Volokh, and Reason's Stephanie Slade), go here.

Subscribe, rate, and review our podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

'Hard Boiled' by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Photo Credit: RICK WILKING/REUTERS/Newscom

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  1. [O]ne of the biggest policy wins for Reason since our debut in 1968 has been the legalization of marijuana in the United States.


    Is this another case of “a group of activists that we’re unrelated to and didn’t work with have accomplished something that vaguely aligns with our own goals, so we’re counting this as a win” bit?

    1. How do you fairly apportion credit when there’s a mass movement? Anything big in the world is accomplished by a group of activists unrelated to each other & not working w each other, w goals that are only vaguely aligned.

      1. Generally speaking, it’s very difficult.

        In this case, it’s not difficult to conclude that little, if any, credit belongs to “libertarians”. Libertarian arguments have not worked in the courts, have not held sway in legislatures, and aren’t cited by people on the ground. Libertarian policy suggestions have not been incorporated or implemented in any of the various marijuana reforms. In fact, the marijuana reforms being implemented are often being done in (according to libertarians) the worst way possible.

        It’s like the whole deal with SSM (or for that matter, sodomy laws): the libertarian arguments held no sway, in changing people’s minds, in changing legislator’s votes, or persuading the courts.

        So while it’s difficult to apportion credit where it’s due, it’s not, in this case, difficult to ascertain that it’s not due among libertarians. It’s a coincidence with no causal connection.

  2. I put my comments in the SoundCloud thread.

  3. I just smoked some untaxed and unregulated marijuana !

  4. “Beyond Pot Legalization: 21st Century Drug Policy Is about Wellness and Happiness”

    When will it be about ending the medical mafia’s rent seeking shakedown when we try to heal ourselves, and being *free* to purchase medicines to treat ourselves?

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