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NPT Drug War: Economist: Legalize it

Another voice speaks up:

Failed states and failed policies: How to stop the drug wars, from the Economist

Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug. On February 26th 1909 they agreed to set up the International Opium Commission—just a few decades after Britain had fought a war with China to assert its right to peddle the stuff. Many other bans of mood-altering drugs have followed. In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.

That is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

March 11, 2009 at 9:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. The full article makes a lot of sense. I love this magazine, a British publication that refuses to dumb down for the mass market consumer.

    I’d like to see a discussion of a plan that includes these two points:

    First, marijuana alone is legalized, if only to prove out the infrastructure needed to accommodate other stuff later, but also to give us a real-world trial of what we are contemplating.

    And second, I’d like to see us build in some gradual tightening to sour demand, in time. At first, legalization needs to be about putting the competition out of business, to wreck the empires of the drug cartels. But once that’s done, let’s send this the way of tobacco.


    March 11, 2009 at 10:46 am

  2. Second that! It is wonderful to see a “mainstream” and highly respected publication like the Economist reiterate its support for legalization. And everyone should pay attention to one key point: it is not the business of the state to prevent people from doing something that they enjoy, regardless of how much others disapprove. The state should focus on offering services to deal with addiction, to help anyone who is addicted break that addiction (and that applies to nicotine and alcohol as well), and providing educational material that presents facts, not alarmist rantings, about the various drugs. It is time that we grow up.

    Helen Marshall

    March 11, 2009 at 11:57 am

  3. Interesting an economist provides an solution for a social, health and legal issue.

    Remind me to see my mechanic for my heart problem, he’s good with engine repairs.

    Reviving this issue must be an attempt to wear down or pester people to death until the law is changed for the benefit of a few.

    Enough with the my rights are being violated and I want to save the world B.S. Say like it is, you just want to smoke a joint and whatever! At least be honest about the reason.

    This issue has been studied, debated, dissected over and over in several countries with the same conclusion. Some countries that legalized it are now sorry and plan to criminalize it again. For crying out loud, think it’s tough here, they HANG people for this in other countries. Go smoke there.


    March 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm

  4. The benefit of “a few” is putting a huge downplay on this issue. Many Americans may be concerned that legalisation will encourage their children to use drugs, however illegal or not, those people who want to use drugs will find them and do so. Americans demand drugs, and it is the developing countries that produce them that ultimately pay the price in bloodshed and jail time, trying to feed our insatiable hunger.

    Is it not simple capitalist economics that derives: when demand goes up, so does the supply (and subsequently, price drops). Hence the relevance of an economists take on this issue. Demand for drugs has not, and will not decrease by the “War on Drugs strategy”. Though full blown legalisation might not be the answer, certainly it is time to take a new approach to drug use policy in this country.

    It seems that the American Government can never just say “my bad, this was a missuse of time, money, and effort. maybe we were just in intent, but certainly we were wrong in execution”.

    Heather V

    March 11, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  5. As others have proposed I would support legalization and control of marijuana in this country. Laws should be similar to those for tobacco. High tariffs should be imposed on marijuana imports. California would have a new taxable cash crop.

    Ken G

    March 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

  6. If you ever want to see a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this post for four from five. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn msn to find the missed parts. Thanks, anyway!

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