Conservatives and the failure of the War on Drugs

Radley Balko comprehensively destroys conservative arguments for the War on Drug Users Drugs in a recent, must-read, blog post:

It’s undoubtedly true that in some instances drug addiction by itself has “deprive[d] the nation of competent, self-governing citizens.” But there are legions of former drug users who have gone on to lead successful lives, including Nobel laureates, Olympic champions, our last three presidents, Supreme Court justices, and even a few prominent, anti-legalization opinion columnists. They were merely fortunate enough to be of a class, in a place, or of a time where such use didn’t result in arrests and criminal charges that prevented their later success. Those unlucky enough to have been caught—or even merely arrested—can face diminished education opportunities, employment discrimination, significant loss of lifetime earnings, loss of voting rights, and access to the social safety net.

All of which makes for a strong argument that the way we treat drug users is doing far more to rob us of competent, self-governing citizens than the drugs they’re using.

As someone of conservative inclination, I understand why conservatives have hitched their wagon to the War on Drugs. At a surface level, it seems like drug use and abuse is a genuine threat to families and society and that prohibition is the best solution, until you actually look at what prohibition actually involves – something, in my experience, very few conservatives actually do.

Good intentions aren’t good enough though – real people are having their lives destroyed unnecessarily by drug prohibition. It’s time that conservatives wake and see how their support for prohibition is making them complicit in a tremendous evil.


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