Written on December 11th, 2014
Written on March 10th, 2010
Prohibition has failed -- again. Instead of treating the demand for illegal drugs as a market, and addicts as patients, policymakers the world over have boosted the profits of drug lords and fostered narcostates that would frighten Al Capone.
Today, there are more drugs on our streets at cheaper prices than ever before. There are more than 1.2 million people behind bars in the U.S., a large percentage of them for nonviolent drug usage. Under our failed drug policy, it is easier for young people to obtain illegal drugs than a six-pack of beer. Why? Because the sellers of illegal drugs don't ask kids for IDs. As soon as we outlaw a substance, we abandon our ability to regulate and control the marketing of that substance.
There is smarter approach usually called harm reduction. Reducing drug use is not nearly as important as reducing the death, disease, crime, and suffering associated with both drug misuse and failed policies of prohibition.
But there are signs of change in the wind. The US Congress recently reversed years of inaction to make sentencing for crack and powder cocaine more equal and proposition 19 on the ballot in CA in November would legalize marijuana.
I caught up with Ethan Nadelmann founder and executive director of the DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE in early July at a daylong conference in Los Angeles - New Directions California: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy and he agreed to join me on the radio.
For info re CA Prop 19: Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
JOSEPH STIGLITZ became a full professor at Yale in 1970 at the age of 27, and in 1979 was awarded the John Bates Clark Award, as the economist under 40 who had made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, MIT and Oxford, and is now University Professor at Columbia University, Chair of Columbia's Committee on Global Thought, and co-founder and Executive Director of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue.
Stiglitz was a member and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration, and later Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics and he was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
JOSEPH STIGLITZ is the author of, among other books, Globalization and Its Discontents, Fair Trade for All, Making Globalization Work, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, with Linda Bilmes, and his newest, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy.