Is It Time to Legalize Drugs? [VIDEO]
Interviewing Lou Dobbs in October after releasing his book, War on the Middle Class, Jon Stewart quipped, "When America declares war on things -- drugs, terror -- usually the subject of that war ends up doing quite well." U.S. attitude towards controlling social ills has become increasingly blind to reality. In the video to the right, Fox News covers Ethan Nadelmann's position (shockingly even giving his idea a chance to marinate), which appears in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, that the U.S. needs to shift away from an all-or-nothing approach on drugs and embrace a pragmatic one.
The abstinence-only approach to drugs isn't different from sex or alcohol; and it's an ideology reminiscent of Prohibition-era rhetoric. It failed then, and it's failing now. Continuing to criminalize drugs is just exacerbating bad situations by, for example, increasing the U.S. prison population. Of the 2.2 million people currently behind bars, 31 percent are there for nonviolent drug offenses; and black men are in prison at higher rates than ever, further criminalizing a group of people.
One strategy Nadelmann proposes is a more socially responsible approach of reducing the harmful effects of drugs -- a strategy better known as "harm reduction." This approach is conscious of the fact that drug use is much more complex than "addict" or "clean," but is underpinned by social, economic, and racial structures. Myopically focusing on a "war on drugs" will amount to little without addressing the factors that cause drug use.