The Economist: Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

March 8, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment
  • A calculated gamble, or another century of failure?

    “This newspaper first argued for legalisation 20 years ago (see article). Reviewing the evidence again (see article), prohibition seems even more harmful, especially for the poor and weak of the world. Legalisation would not drive gangsters completely out of drugs; as with alcohol and cigarettes, there would be taxes to avoid and rules to subvert. Nor would it automatically cure failed states like Afghanistan. Our solution is a messy one; but a century of manifest failure argues for trying it.”

    Pundit’s Reactions?

    • Dan Savage presumably agrees with his paraphrase of “Treat addiction as a health problem and not a criminal problem, and stop pretending that ‘harm-reduction’ models—’prohibition-lite’—will solve the problem.”
    • Andrew Sullivan points out that The Economist’s position is “actually, not ironic at all. Capitalism has long been a powerful force for promoting social change before government ever gets around to it. Markets reflect a reality government is often insulated from. I don’t believe, for example, the gay rights would have emerged without a strong economically vibrant gay middle class.”
    • Mark Frauenfelder at boing boing makes the prediction “It won’t happen, because the criminals don’t want it, law enforcement doesn’t want it, and the prison systems — one of the few growth industries remaining in the Great Recession — don’t want it.”

    The Economist is hardly the “bomb-throwing, bong-sucking radicals” that Savage sarcastically refers to it as. It has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has supported the Americans in Vietnam (source Economist.com). This is a story that could impact government policy around the world, including here in British Columbia were a new poll shows B.C. residents “strongly support a series of proposed justice reforms to curb gang activity and nearly two-thirds also back the legalization of marijuana.

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