Glenn has been a strong supporter of drug policy reform for some time, and I even helped write a guest post on reform at his site several years ago.
But he’s had a lot of other things on his plate and his support recently has been in the area of fighting against authoritarian government approaches to rights (which certainly impacts drug policy).
However, now Glenn is using his knowledge of Portugal to provide perspective on our own drug policies.
In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalize drugs, a distinction which continues through to the present. Last year, working with the Cato Institute, I went to that country in order to research the effects of the decriminalization law (which applies to all substances, including cocaine and heroin) and to interview both Portuguese and EU drug policy officials and analysts (the central EU drug policy monitoring agency is, by coincidence, based in Lisbon). Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense. […]
There is clearly a growing recognition around the world and even in the U.S. that, strictly on empirical grounds, criminalization approaches to drug usage and, especially, the “War on Drugs,” are abject failures, because they worsen the exact problems they are ostensibly intended to address. “Strictly on empirical grounds” means excluding from the assessment: (a) ideological questions regarding the legitimacy of imprisoning adults for consuming drugs they choose to consume; (b) the evisceration of Constitutional and civil liberties wrought by drug criminalization; and (c) the extraordinary sums of money devoted to the War on Drugs both domestically and internationally.
Instead of just delivering his report, Glenn will be presenting it at CATO and participating in a sort of debate about it…
On April 3, at 12:00 noon, at the Cato Institute in Washington, I’ll be presenting the 50-page report I wrote for Cato, entitled Drug Decriminalization in Portugal. Following my presentation, a supporter of drug criminalization laws — Peter Reuter, a Professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Criminology — will comment on the report (and I’ll be able to comment after that), and then there will be a Q-and-A session with the audience. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Details and registration are here at Cato’s site, where the event can also be watched live online (and, possibly, on C-SPAN).
These are the discussions we need to be having. Great to have Greenwald in the game.