Ta-Nehisi has questions:
[W]hen John proposes legalizing all drugs, I wonder precisely, specifically, what that means, and what would be the effects of it. Would we be faced with more drug addiction? Would that drug addiction be concentrated more among the poor, and thus among blacks? Would we have to put more money into treatment? Would that, in and of itself, become a race issue? Would we see more children addicted to drugs? Are we prepared for the spectacle of kids ODing on legal drugs? How much would we cut the prison population? Would states be willing to put out money to make sure ex-cons were reintegrated into society? And what does it even mean to legalize drugs? Is this a matter of state law? Federal law? How would this actually happen?
I don't mean to be overly harsh here. But I've heard this argument before, but I've never seen it sketched out in a detailed way. I'm willing to be convinced, but I'd like to see the downsides confronted.
Yglesias considers the economics of McWhorter's proposal.