The War On Drugs Is A Failure

Release Date
December 20, 2016


Civil Liberties Government Justice Liberty Morality War on Drugs

According to professor Steve Davies, “In terms of its own goals, the war on drugs is a catastrophic policy failure.”
When you create a system that leads to mass incarceration, a network of international crime, and funds terrorism–  without accomplishing what it set out to accomplish– that program should probably be revisited.

War On Drugs: 3 Absurd Reasons for Banning Drugs – Learn Liberty (video): Steve Davies describes three absurd historical rationales for banning drugs.
The right drug policy: Decriminalize and discourage (blog article): Tom Savidge explains what drug policy should look like in light of the failure of prohibition.
Drug Laws Vary Across State Borders, and Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing (blog article): Alex Kreit explains why drug laws vary so much across state lines and what that means for decriminalizing drugs.

Steve Davies: This is … Also, it hasn’t even done the thing it’s meant to do, which is reduce the use of drugs, where, in fact, actually, this has gone up.
Dave Rubin: What would be a better policy related to drugs?
Steve Davies: Well, I think there are two things to do. The first thing is quite simply to legalize drugs.
Dave Rubin: Period.
Steve Davies: Period.
Dave Rubin: Across the board.
Steve Davies: Across the board. What people do not realize is until the 1890s, any drug was freely available. If you were a chemist in Great Britain until 1922, the United States until the 1890s, you could go in. You could order opium. You could order morphine.
Arthur Conan Doyle could go to the chemist in London and get his weekly supply of cocaine.
Dave Rubin: Right.
Steve Davies: Serious coke habit, which is why Sherlock Holmes has a coke habit in the stories.
Dave Rubin: I didn’t know that.
Steve Davies: This regime we now have has been created piecemeal since 1920s, basically. It’s not inevitable. It’s a specific policy response. The results would’ve been catastrophic. It has led to incredibly high rates of incarceration here in the United States, which means countless lives ruined and severely damaged, if not, destroyed. It means it’s given an enormous amount of money to some serious evil and unpleasant people that led to the growth of an enormous network of international organized crime, which would not otherwise exist.
In terms of geopolitics, this is one of the major ways terrorist organizations get money. It’s a catastrophe in terms of that. It’s undermined the stability of larger parts of the world like Colombia, for example, increasingly. That’s one of the reasons why Venezuela is in bad shape, apart from the incompetence of the government there. Mexico, there is a war going on in some parts of Mexico.
Also, it hasn’t even done the thing it’s meant to do, which is reduce the use of drugs, where, in fact, actually, this has gone up.
Dave Rubin: Right.
Steve Davies: Not only that, but an inevitable result of this policy is that the suppliers and the users both go for harder drugs because you want to get more bang for the buck. You want also to sell and to use products that are less bulky, easier to conceal.
Same thing has happened to the prohibition during the 1920s, where the Americans went from being a beer-drinking nation to being a hard-liquor-drinking nation, which is not what you want. You want [inaudible 00:02:13] to just control alcohol drinking.
Dave Rubin: Right.
Steve Davies: I would say, in terms of its own goals, this is a catastrophic policy failure.