Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Economist
July 28, 2001 11:39 AM   Subscribe

The Economist calls for the legalization of drugs in this editorial. Plus these articles [per A&LD]. We are always led to believe that only fringe (read criminal and self-interested) elements favor this course...does anyone know any other "mainstream" groups/people with the nerve to publicly state their support? Or better yet, an online list of same.
posted by rushmc (20 comments total)

 
I had earlier today read the piece you have posted and in fact put it up on my blog; however, I also noted that our of fairness the Economist included a number of reasonable essays arguing against the legalization of drugs so that its readers might consider from all perspectives the position advocated by this libertarian outlook.
posted by Postroad at 12:10 PM on July 28, 2001


How about the House of Lords?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2001


Nathan A. Nadelmann from Princeton takes a stance for legalization.(American Hertitage, feb/march 1993) He states his position is really for drug laws to be reevaluated and some of this would include a decriminalization of certain drugs.(i really dont think there are any serious scholars who advocate legalization of hard drugs.)
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on July 28, 2001


typo:(Ethan) A. Nadelmann. not Nathan.
posted by clavdivs at 5:03 PM on July 28, 2001


>does anyone know any other "mainstream" groups/people with the nerve to publicly state their support?

Aargh! I don't understand how ignorant people are made to be on this issue (sorry rushmc; not your fault —for some reason it just isn't ever reported on). Many, many "mainstream" individuals and organizations are outspoken in their desire to end the current system:
On June 6, 1998, a surprising letter was delivered to Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations. "We believe," the letter declared, "that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself."

The letter was signed by statesmen, politicians, academics and other public figures. Former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar signed. So did George Shultz, the former American secretary of state, and Joycelyn Elders, the former American surgeon general. Nobel laureates such as Milton Friedman and Argentina's Adolfo Perez Esquivel added their names. Four former presidents and seven former cabinet ministers from Latin American countries signed. And several eminent Canadians were among the signatories

That's from Why the War on Drugs has Failed the lead article in a series published by the Ottawa Citizen last year. (You might also want to check out Frontline's series on this topic which came out around the same time.) So, politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, "humanitarians" (heh, that's what I want to be when I grow up) — lots of mainstream people are against the war on drugs.

It seems impossible to me to imagine that any thinking person can be "for" the war on drugs at this point. The disaster is entirely unmitigated and the consequences all bad.

> i really dont think there are any serious scholars who advocate legalization of hard drugs.

I assume you mean academics; and I'd say about 1/2 of them would support decriminilizing "hard" drugs though not nearly that many would "advocate" for it.

>so that its readers might consider from all perspectives the position advocated by this libertarian outlook.

Libertarianism is not the only reason to be against the war on drugs (and I'm not so sure that this is the heart of the Economist's position, even if they make it sound that way sometimes). Consequentialists (who do any research at all) are against the war on drugs as would anyone who took a hard look from a pragmatic point of view. Our current practice is creating addicts, destroying cities and cultures and producing billions in profits to the sorts of people whom we'd least like to see have that kind of money.
posted by sylloge at 8:46 PM on July 28, 2001


Ultimately it would be useful to start arguing for a different strategy from prohibition across the board now, because otherwise it will only be seen as a "creeping liberalisation" and the legalisation of cannabis will be "seen to fail" (because the influence of the criminal element will become entrenched in the remaining illegal drugs).

The point is that a strategy of license and control of the market will be far safer and socially responsible than one of leaving the market to its own devices (which is essentially what prohibition represents - an abrogation of responsibility). This is even more essential for "hard" drugs than "soft" drugs. Most of the current problems with heroin could be ameliorated if supply were reliable and of an established purity. Similarly, if drugs such as Ecstacy were produced to established formulas and to putative "strengths" it might be possible to evolve some sort of strategy for dealing with people who have a bad reaction to them.

Sadly, however, it would deprive the establishment of a bogieman to scare the staunch burghers of Middle America and Middle England.
posted by Grangousier at 12:55 AM on July 30, 2001


"Sadly, however, it would deprive the establishment of a bogieman to scare the staunch burghers of Middle America and Middle England"
ahhh...yahhh. A bogieman can be had on any corner, your referring to strawdog?(i like to think of the problem as like the 'Gombeen Man'). go back and study the chinese situation concerning addiction for a taste of what will come.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGALIZATION AND DECRIMINALIZATION. a vast difference sir, so i stand by my claim sir, no serious scholar would advocate the LEGALIZATION of hard drugs (heroin, pcp, coke, etc.)
posted by clavdivs at 7:09 AM on July 30, 2001


William F. Buckley has been advocating drug legalization for many years. CNN article.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:20 AM on July 30, 2001


here we go again:) I'll yield Buckley, i believe he advocates legalization with certain restrictions. (lj, nice work from the Buckley/Reagan thread, scholarly and from what i followed, you have the edge.)
posted by clavdivs at 8:00 AM on July 30, 2001


here we go again:) I'll yield Buckley, i believe he advocates legalization with certain restrictions. (lj, nice work from the Buckley/Reagan thread, scholarly and from what i followed, you have the edge.)

Well, according to CNN in 96, Buckley's view was legalize marijuana now, study legalization for other drugs. I'm not that close a follower of Buckley so I'm not sure if his position has varied from that in the last few years.

I attended a Buckley lecture in 1989 that included his arguments in favor of legalization - the first time I had heard such a thing from a conservative thinker. Although I disagreed with him at the time, I have come around to his viewpoint.

(lj, nice work from the Buckley/Reagan thread, scholarly and from what i followed, you have the edge.)

I'm just glad it's concluded. I feared that I'd be engaged in that debate until Michael Reagan is elected president.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2001


Re: Buckley, some years ago The National Review devoted an entire issue to the issue of drug legalization, and followed up by printing tons of letters to the editor on the subject in the next issue. Sadly, most conservative politicians championed by TNR are strongly pro-drug war. These issues came out before TNR was on the net, so you would have to find them at the library. Probably early nineties.
posted by 4midori at 9:16 AM on July 30, 2001


>PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGALIZATION AND DECRIMINALIZATION.

What is the difference? Are carrots, for example, "legal" or simply "not criminal"?

>a vast difference sir, so i stand by my claim sir, no serious scholar would advocate the LEGALIZATION of hard drugs (heroin, pcp, coke, etc.)

Buckley is not a serious scholar. He is a publisher and popular writer. Milton Friedman, on the other hand, won the Nobel Prize for economics. And he is for the legalization of all drugs (see here). So, there you are.
posted by sylloge at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2001


sorry rushmc; not your fault —for some reason it just isn't ever reported on

No offense taken, since that was rather my point in starting the thread. :::grin:::
posted by rushmc at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2001


">PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGALIZATION AND DECRIMINALIZATION.

What is the difference? Are carrots, for example, "legal" or simply "not criminal"?

>a vast difference sir, so i stand by my claim sir, no serious scholar would advocate the LEGALIZATION of hard drugs (heroin, pcp, coke, etc.)

Buckley is not a serious scholar. He is a publisher and popular writer. Milton Friedman"

then why did milton mention buckleys viewpoint in a separate article?(from same batch as the interview sylloge gleamed) decriminalize=remove laws that prohibit drug use while keeping those in place that deal with trafficking(what little there would be) and trafficking to minors. Prohibitive laws in place like driving heavy machinery, military service, etc. would remain or be modified.(existing decrim laws in Oregon, Alaska, Ann Arbor MI are good examples)
posted by clavdivs at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2001


And, though it's been a while since I've lived there, the situation is a de facto one of decriminalization of marijuana throughout most of the province. That's not to say that it's been legalized, just that police are not interested in charging you with anything if they find you in possession of amounts that are clearly for personal use.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:28 PM on July 30, 2001


Me=bonehead. "The province" I'm referring to is British Columbia, in Canada.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:30 PM on July 30, 2001


whats a matter sylloge, voltaire got yer tongue.
posted by clavdivs at 6:27 AM on July 31, 2001


He had it, but I got it back.

Buckley is now officially a red herring in this conversation. Getting mentioned by Friedman does not make him a serious scholar (in my books anyway), but whether we want to call him a scholar or a publisher is immaterial.

More important: the difference between legalization and decriminalization. I've never really understood what the difference was and so your definition is fine with me. If that's what it means, then I am all for decriminalization and against legalization (note that the Economist is calling for 'decriminalization' in your sense, but they are calling it 'legalization').

Of course it shouldn't just be a free-for-all. There are no goods the sale of which is completely outside the scope of the law since the act of selling is itself regulated (at least in most countries): for the protection of consumers, the limiting of liability for sellers, the collection of sales tax, etc. Most goods (like, say, pork or automobiles or children's toys) are further regulated under special laws (USDA inspection, federal safety standards, etc.) and indeed have particular organizations in charge of creating and enforcing those laws, mostly for the safety of the consumer.

The sale of pharmaceutical drugs, tabacco and alchohol are further regulated and controlled — in many jurisdictions (like "pot-friendly BC") the state is the only legal seller of (bottled) hard achohol. If prohibition was ended, it had damn well better be replaced by some system(s) of control like limiting sale to minors, state-controlled distribution, limitations on advertising, etc. I'd rather not have private business involved in any way, personally.

So, maybe, we are agreed? You and me and Buckley and the Economist? What a lovely world ...
posted by sylloge at 1:55 AM on August 1, 2001


Er, that's 'alcohol' and 'alcohol'.
posted by sylloge at 1:56 AM on August 1, 2001


scholar no, serious(buckley) yes. I agree. voltaire was a referent to legal and decrim terminology. lets take this thread out back and kick its ass. I'm for decrim. I think liberties would actually be compromised if drugs were legalized (ok bill, do all the smack you want, but you cant drive, apply for this job, etc.)((i wasnt trying to be an ass, your site rules, its on bookmark))
posted by clavdivs at 6:50 AM on August 1, 2001


« Older U.S. Gov't: IF communists attack THEN GOTO communi...  |  The DMCA, a flawed law respons... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments