Scathing AP Editorial on U.S. Drug War

AP IMPACT: US drug war has met none of its goals

This writer is obviously on fire about this issue, and while I appreciate the fact that it will expose more people to the wider effects and history of our drug policy, it’s simply unfair to claim that the drug war has met no goals. If the goal of drug prohibition was to completely wipe out drug usage, then sure, complete failure, but many people support prohibitions to keep prevalence of usage below a certain threshold, and they do work for that. The data in Drug War Heresies pretty clearly suggests that commercialization increases use, and illegality provides a non-zero deterrent to purchase and to use for a large part of the population. In that aspect, prohibitions very much likely have kept usage down.

That said, there are a lot of goals to public policy, and in the grand scheme of things, basing a drug policy mostly on reducing the prevalence of mainly marijuana use has had some horrible outcomes that have gone mostly unmeasured and unreported. Thankfully that’s starting to change.

I hope to give my thoughts on the White House’s new “strategy” soon. The Good: some real improvements in goal-setting, promotion of  proven ideas in parole/probation reform. The Bad: More federal dollars towards drug law enforcement; no explicit goals of measuring/reducing the use of militaristic SWAT-style policing; more, more, more foreign meddling shown mostly to cause a lot of harm to foreigners with little evidence of utility in the U.S.

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