by Mark Kleiman
Seven years ago, another blogger asked me for a post-length summary of my practical views about drug policy. What's scary is how little has changed in the meantime. I've reposted that note below verbatim, with a couple of parenthetical updates.
The original note deliberately omitted the question of the hallucinogens and MDMA, which pose a different set of challenges from the drugs that cause most of our actual problems. The issue of religious/spiritual use gets especially tricky. There's also no discussion of the medical uses of currently banned drugs. That can and should be handled through the FDA approval process; in the case of cannabis, that would require that the federal government stop obstructing medical research
Warning: Believing all of the stuff below will make people on both sides of the drug-war debate look at you funny
1. Leave heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine illegal for non-medical use.
2. Allow use of cannabis, and growing for personal use or gratis distribution. Forbid commercial activity.
3. Shift drug law enforcement and sentencing to focus on reducing the side-effects of dealing: violence, neighborhood disruption, and the recruitment of juveniles. (Update: The High Point strategy shows how this can work.) Cut back on base sentences for drug-selling. Target a reduction in total drug-related imprisonment from 400,000 to 200,000. (Update: The current number is probably north of 500,000.)