The Lost War on Drugs

We, as a nation, have waged a long and costly “war” on drugs. We have done so almost in spite of what we learned about alcohol prohibition almost 80 years ago. I believe we have come to the point in history that we need to ask ourselves is it either/or? Is it prohibition or permission? Is there something in between?

In my book, I write this about our nation’s war on drugs:

          It is time to seriously look at the “reasonable use” approach with regard to other drugs that are illegal but in great demand among the public—especially marijuana. For all intents and purposes, a number of cities in California have already legalized marijuana and are taxing its purchase and use under medical-marijuana statutes. And states that have permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes have found that its use has gone far beyond those people who are simply trying to alleviate cancer pain. They have, in effect, legalized the use of marijuana.

            If an adult person in our society wants to use drugs… what should be the state’s role in such a situation? Should the state be attempting to enforce prohibition or responsible, regulated use? Activities that some of us find wrong or immoral do not necessarily have to be made illegal.

            Every year, we arrest nearly four million people for violating various laws dealing with what I call “willing exchanges.” While a good part of the U.S. population is still strongly Puritan or wishes to enact Biblical mandates as criminal law, we need to acknowledge that there are other ways of maintaining social regulation in these areas, besides making them illegal and subjecting violators to arrest and imprisonment. Because these presently illegal goods and services are sought by a significant number of our citizens and as a result, exchanges to acquire them will take place even if policing resources are increased ten or a hundredfold, a wise nation would seek methods other than arrest to regulate and control them.

For all extents and purposes, our nation is slowly legalizing the adult use of marijuana. Prohibition didn’t work regarding alcohol and it certainly has not worked with regard to marijuana and other drugs. We are a creative nation. We can work this out. So let’s all of us put our thinking caps on and start considering some reasonable solutions to the problem.


  1. Hi I know you’re right about rethinking it. May I point out a pet peeve? It’s the “lost” drug war. Just like the more widely used term the “failed” drug war, I have a problem with that. Calling it a failed war is incorrect because it isn’t over, It is taken as a challenge, it is failed because they keep getting more and more unscrupulas in the taking of rights. Also, It’s likely going just about as planned. The issue needs to be the immorality of of drug war. The Immoral drug war is what I beg the respectable people seeking reform to use.


    1. Buck, I like that. I will stand corrected — the “immoral war on drugs” is more fitting an effort, consisting of prevention, treatment and enforcement still needs to go on even if many of the so-called recreational drugs are legalized — there will still be addiction and a large market that will continue to be aimed at children. But I like the “immoral war” terminology. Thanks.


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