Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Slow Fade Of The Drug War

A couple of news items on the drug war have caught my interest today. One of them from the Market Watch discusses how the current economic situation has made states rethink how they handle Drug Prohibition.

A growing number of states are renouncing some of the long prison sentences that have been a hallmark of the war on drugs and instead focusing on treatment, which once-skeptical lawmakers now say is proven to be less expensive and more effective.

Kentucky on Thursday became the latest to make the shift when Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a measure increasing spending on rehabilitation programs and intensive drug testing. The law also reduces penalties for many drug offenses and may allow some traffickers and users of smaller amounts of drugs to avoid prison.

Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are among those that have pending bills to reduce penalties for drug offenders, in some cases by directing defendants into treatment programs. Similar laws have taken effect in South Carolina, Colorado and New York in recent years.
In my estimation Drug Rehab is no more effective than prison when it comes to reducing drug use. What it does have going for it is that it is 7 times cheaper (more or less). Of course even cheaper is doing nothing (besides legalizing). But it is hard to change public perceptions on a dime. (It usually takes hundreds of millions of dollars.) After being told for decades "most serious problem in America" it can be wrenching to hear: "and there is nothing we can do about it". Easier to sell "NOT jail, rehab".

Which brings me to a story I saw at Libertarian Republican about a marijuana reform advocate being appointed to the New Jersey State Superior Court.
Gov. Christie appoints Marijuana Reform advocate to State Superior Court

"Staunch Conservative" with an obvious libertarian streak

From Eric Dondero:

Libertarian-conservative New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a very mixed record on marijuana decriminalization. But his latest move may send a wave of cheers among the libertarian wing of the GOP.
Eric then quotes from a news report about the person appointed, Michael Patrick Carroll. The really amazing thing about this appointment is that Mr. Carol's opinion on cannabis is a super majority opinion: legalize it for medical use.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


murgatroyd666 said...

I can often get people on the path to thinking more clearly about the situation with a couple of simple questions:

Me: So ... drugs are bad, because they can ruin your life, right?

Target: Right!

Me: So to fight that, if we catch someone using drugs, we throw him into prison ... to prevent him from screwing up his life! Right?

Target: Well ... um ...

RavingDave said...

Murgatroyd666, you obviously never heard the adage of the Judge and the Horse thief. The Judge sentenced the horse thief to be hung until dead. The thief, said it was unfair for him to be hung for stealing a horse.

The Judge replied, "You are not being hung for stealing a horse. You are being hung that horses might not be stolen."

Society NEEDS negative examples to discourage the malefactors.

Apart from that obvious point, the primary danger from drug users is NOT that they are going to hurt themselves. It's that they are going to (by example) convince OTHER people to become addicted, and thereby screw up THEIR lives. The injury to the innocent occurs when they are persuaded to start down that road.

RavingDave said...

By the way Simon, you might like this bill whittle commentary.