Written on December 11th, 2014
Written on June 25th, 2013
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
This week, in the second of a two-part series (Part One with CARL HART, author of HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society) I’m joined by DOUG FINE to talk about the accelerating movement to change the rules on marijuana. According to Fine, as the economy continues to limp along for most Americans and California cities declare bankruptcy, one action — the legalization of marijuana — would save government billions per year while raising huge sums in taxes. According to TIME, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere five hundred thousand registered medical users in just sixteen states. 51% of Americans support full legalization (cannabis regulated for adults like alcohol), and 80% support medicinal cannabis legalization.
Fine’s book, TOO HIGH TO FAIL: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution, is just out in paperback. In a postscript added to the new edition, Fine writes,” On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington voters ended the Drug War. That is to say, voters in both states overwhelmingly legalized adult social use of cannabis (Colorado’s new law, vitally, also allows industrial cannabis cultivation). It is no stretch to say that the Berlin Wall of the Drug War fell.” We’ll talk about how quickly the landscape is changing and look ahead to the era of legal marijuana.