I’m really enjoying reading the posts by Jesper, Dan, and Tamara. Makes me feel a little bit like I’m there, enjoying the conference. Instead, I’m cruising at 31,000 feet mid-flight on my way to Baltimore for a conference for work (WiFi on Delta is pretty good). I’ll be there tonight and tomorrow night.
The Economist: Drugs. Virtually Legal
The excellent Transform Report: After the War on Drugs. Blueprint for Regulation is picking up some good press.
There’s Legalise drugs and save Scotland Â£2bn a year, says think-tank by Lachlan Mackinnon in the Daily Record (UK).
Then there’s Sue Blackmore in the Guardian with The jaw-jaw after the war on drugs. Very nice piece.
Blueprint comes up with a discussion model for psychedelics based on membership of psychedelic groups or clubs, and licensed vendors with specific responsibilities as well as licensed users. Does this make sense? Would it work? I don’t know. But then no one knows.
I can only say that I would welcome such a step. If LSD were legally available I personally would like to take it quite rarely â€“ perhaps once a year or so â€“ for the extraordinary insights it can give and the lessons it teaches. I am not alone: an online survey by Erowid of thousands of experienced LSD users showed that most would want to take it about once a year if it were legal.
The BBC weighs in with Sell drugs in shops – think tank. The Home Office response was amusing:
But the Home Office said it had “no intention of either decriminalising or legalising currently controlled drugs”.
She added: “Drugs are controlled for good reason â€” they are harmful to health. Their control protects individuals and the public from the harms caused by their misuse.”
Ah, not interested in regulating drugs, because they are “controlled.” By whom?
Jacob Sullum reviews the publication over at Reason. He does a good job, but I feel for him in this. In many ways, this piece is anathema to libertarians — it’s about regulation, Nanny state, health codes, and so forth. And yet prohibition it the absolute worst thing for libertarians. Most libertarians understand that it’ll be impossible to get the numbers on the side of legalization without the believe that there are practical and workable regulatory systems that could be put in place.
I understand that ending the war on drugs will require an alliance between people whose main concern is individual freedom and people whose main concern is promoting “public health.” Although both groups of antiprohibitionists recognize the terrible toll wrought by the vain crusade for a drug-free society, the public-health types are bound to have more say about the details of the system that replaces prohibition, which is likely to have many features that offend libertarians. That prospect should not deter us from thinking about what the world will look like after the war on drugs, and this report is good way to start that debate.
Earlier, I mentioned a section of the report that really rang true with me, and I want to share it here.
Supporters of prohibition present any steps towards legal regulation of drug markets as â€˜radicalâ€™, and therefore innately confrontational and dangerous. However, the historical evidence demonstrates that, in fact, it is prohibition that is the radical policy. Legal regulation of drug production, supply and use is far more in line with currently accepted ways of managing health and social risks in almost all other spheres of life.
By contrast, the presentation of drugs as an existential â€˜threatâ€™ has generated a policy response within which unevidenced and radical measures are justified. Drug policy has evolved within a context of â€˜securitizationâ€™, characterised by increasing powers and resources for enforcement and state security apparatus. The outcomes of this strategy, framed as a drug â€˜warâ€™, include the legitimisation of propaganda, and the suspension of many of the working principles that define more conventional social policy, health or legal interventions. Given that the War on Drugs is predicated on â€˜eradicationâ€™ of the â€˜evilâ€™ drug threat as a way of achieving a â€˜drug free worldâ€™, it has effectively established a permanent state of war. This has led to a high level policy environment that ignores critical scientific thinking, and health and social policy norms. Fighting the threat becomes an end in itself and as such, it creates a largely self-referential and self-justifying rhetoric that makes meaningful evaluation, review and debate difficult, if not impossible.
Prohibition has become so entrenched and institutionalised that many in the drugs field, even those from the more critical progressive end of the spectrum, view it as immutable, an assumed reality of the legal and policy landscape to be worked within or around, rather than a policy choice. It is in this context that we seek to highlight how the basics of normative health and social policy can be applied to developing effective responses to drugs. Put bluntly, it is prohibition, not legal regulation that is the radical policy.
DrugSense Weekly – a weekly review of the most interesting or relevant articles in the press and on the web related to drug policy reform.
Drug War Chronicle – weekly update of drug war news and analysis from Stop the Drug War.org.