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Legalize Drugs

The BriefGet Up To Speed

It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs." $2.5 trillion dollars later, drug use is half of what it was 30 years ago, and thousands of offenders are successfully diverted to treatment instead of jail. And yet, 22 million Americans-9% of the population-still uses illegal drugs, and with the highest incarceration rate in the world, we continue to fill our prisons with drug offenders. Decimated families and communities are left in the wake. Is it time to legalize drugs or is this a war that we're winning?

  • Paul Butler

    3 Items
    • Former Federal Prosecutor & Professor, Georgetown Law
    Read Bio

    Paul Butler, author of ‘Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice,’ talks about jury nullification, and current issues in the war on drugs and criminal justice with Post-Exchange reporter Jamie Loo.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    I have jury duty on July 2, and I can't wait. If I get put on a jury in a non-violent drug case, I'll vote "not guilty," based on my principles -- even if I think the defendant actually did it.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009
  • Nick Gillespie

    4 Items
    • Editor-at-Large, Reason
    Read Bio

    Gillespie and Welch answer the question: ‘What does a libertarian think about the war on drugs and how do we change it?’

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Gillespie speaking at an SSDP conference on the topic of ‘What Would a Sensible Drug Policy Look Like,’ and discussing how drug prohibition functions as a ‘structuring event’ in American life, forcing all sorts of activity to pay hypocritical and misdirected lip service to a Just Say No mentality.

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Legalize drugs and then tax sales of them. And while we're at it, welcome all forms of gambling (rather than just the few currently and arbitrarily allowed) and let prostitution go legit too.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Why is it that ostensibly pro-drug movies can never quite deliver the goods, can never quite depict drug use as something other than depraved?

    Thursday, March 1, 2001

Federal drug prohibition is not authorized by the Constitution and adult individuals should be free to make their own choices.

Thursday, October 25, 2007
David Boaz

After years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies -- and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men – the authors, and other police officers, have begun to question the system.

Monday, August 17, 2009
Peter Moskos and Stanford ‘Neill’ Franklin

The drug war has been brutal -- complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods -- but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought. This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.

Monday, March 8, 2010
Michelle Alexander

The long-term impact that the tough-on-crime policies of the last two decades have had on prisoners and society. Housing nonviolent, victimless offenders with violent criminals for years on end can’t possibly help them reintegrate into society, which helps explain why four out of 10 released prisoners end up back in jail within three years of their release.

Friday, July 1, 2011
Veronique de Rugy

An economic perspective on the failure of the war on drugs. Demand for drugs is not affected by price –the more the government tries to stop drug consumption, the more steeply consumers’ willingness to pay rises, which then provides greater incentives for dealers to bring drugs to market.

Sunday, May 1, 2005
Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy

This report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition.

Monday, September 27, 2010
Jeffrey Miron and Katherine Waldock

The reasoning behind both the liberal and libertarian position supporting drug legalization.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Jeffrey A. Miron

A picture of America’s experience with drug use, the current state of the drug problem, and what might happen if America chooses to adopt a more permissive policy on drug abuse.

Thursday, May 1, 2003
Drug Enforcement Administration

Although it is clear the majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of keeping the use, sale, and possession of drugs illegal, much of the writing from the antilegalization viewpoint comes from law enforcement and government officials. Although many acknowledge that the so-called war on drugs has had mixed success, they believe that the alternative would have catastrophic effects on the nation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Edmund Hartnett

Legalization is not an effective shortcut to law enforcement. On its own, it is unlikely to address a host of problems associated with organized crime.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Vanda Felbab-Brown

A future with legalized drugs would not get rid of a black market, reduce drug profits, or lower crime.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
William Bennett

‘Crack and heroin and meth are great, and I am going to give them to my brothers and sisters, my children and my grandchildren.’ If you find that statement absurd, irresponsible, or obscene, then at some level you appreciate that drugs cannot be accepted in civilized society.

Monday, May 7, 2012
John Walters

Stimson refutes the legalization arguments that marijuana is not addictive, that crime would diminish, and that tax revenue would outweigh any social costs of decriminalizing it.

Monday, September 13, 2010
Charles Stimson

Follow the war on drugs from its inception under President Nixon.

Monday, April 2, 2007
National Public Radio

On March 8-9, 2012, the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program hosted a conference titled, ‘The War on Drugs Has Failed. Is Legalization the Answer?’ Martins summarizes the proceedings in this conference report.

Friday, June 29, 2012
William Martin

A few years ago it seemed unthinkable. But recently, public figures on both the Right and Left have called for the decriminalization of drugs. What are they thinking?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Nigel Farndale

In many countries, full jails, stretched budgets and a general weariness with the war on drugs have made prohibition harder to enforce.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Julian Assange and Richard Branson; Russell Brand and Misha Glenny; Geoffrey Robertson and Eliot Spitzer. Experts, orators and celebrities who’ve made this their cause locked horns in an Intelligence Squared London & Google+ debate format.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Intelligence Squared

The Obama Administration’s approach to drug control is described. It relies less on the previous enforcement-centric ‘war on drugs’ to one that incorporates evidence-based public health and safety initiatives such as substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Discussions about reducing the harms associated with drug use and antidrug policies are often politicized, infused with questionable data, and unproductive. This paper provides a nonpartisan primer that should be of interest to those who are new to the field of drug policy, as well as those who have been working in the trenches.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Using a market framework, the book discusses the nature and effectiveness of efforts to tackle the nation’s drug problems.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
David Boyum and Peter Reuter

Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Keith Coffman and Nicole Neroulias

Huffington Post talks to the four authors of ‘Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.’

Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Matt Ferner

Nine former Drug Enforcement Administrators argue that California would not earn more in state taxes from the legalization of marijuana because the supremacy of federal law would still make it a crime.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
John Bartels

NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine. An LA Times review of coroner's records finds that drugs prescribed by a small number of doctors caused or contributed to a disproportionate number of deaths.

Sunday, November 11, 2012
Scott Glover

America’s drug problem is shifting from illicit substances like cocaine to abuse of prescription painkillers, a change that is forcing policy makers to re-examine the long and expensive strategy of trying to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States.

Monday, July 16, 2012
Damien Cave and Michael S. Schmidt

As prescription drug abuse has risen, the DEA has come under increasing pressure from Congress to show it is containing the problem.

Monday, June 18, 2012

At a summit meeting of Western Hemisphere leaders in Cartagena, Colombia, several leaders urged that there be a wide-ranging discussion that even considered drug legalization as an alternative to the militarized war on drugs. Read Room for Debate contributors’ answer to the question: Is it time for Latin America and the United States to abandon the war on drugs and deal with the issue as a matter of public health rather than combat?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Room for Debate

When President Obama arrives in Colombia for a hemispheric summit this weekend, he will hear Latin American leaders say that the U.S.-orchestrated war on drugs, which criminalizes drug use and employs military tactics to fight gangs, is failing and that broad changes need to be considered.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Juan Forero

Latin American leaders entertain the idea of legalizing drugs after seeing the shortcomings of the American-led war on drugs in their countries.

Thursday, June 7, 2012
Alma Guillermoprieto

Drug-related information and date from the EMCDDA.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

A ruling in the Dutch courts means that foreigners heading to Amsterdam’s famous marijuana cafes will soon be banned from buying cannabis in a bid to end drug tourism to the Netherlands.

Friday, April 27, 2012
Bruno Waterfield

The introduction of a "weed pass" in three Dutch provinces has resulted in an increase in illegal street sales of marijuana, researchers said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drug-related information and date from the EMCDDA.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Ten years after Portugal’s policy experimental that decriminalized drug use and treated addicts rather than punishing them the number of addicts have fallen.

Friday, July 1, 2011
Agence France Presse

The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success.

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Glenn Greenwald

The EMCDDA report on Portugal, 10 years after drug decriminalization.

Saturday, October 1, 2011
Reitox National Focal Point

DPA looks at the whole picture of drug use, including making a distinction between the harm that can be caused by the substance itself and the harm caused by drug war policies.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Read statistics like the amount the U.S. spends annually on the war on drugs (more than $51,000,000,000) here.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

This large national survey compiles data on the illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use of Americans aged 12 and older.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Drug law violations.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Bureau of Justice Statistics

Drug abuse arrests for the year 2010 broken down by crime and geographic region.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Information on penalties, incarceration and fines for drug possession and sale by state as well as federal penalties.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Federal Bureau of Investigation

A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.

Monday, October 17, 2011
Frank Newport