LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Drug war’s cost too high, returns too small

Kudos to Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, for defending the U.S. Constitution when so many others in Congress won’t (“National security run amok,” Commentary, Aug. 9). The police-state approach to public health problems such as substance abuse has not worked. Warrantless government surveillance, drug-sniffing dogs in schools and random drug testing have all led to a loss of civil liberties in America, while failing miserably at preventing drug use.

The drug war is largely a war on marijuana. Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents, a majority of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition and perhaps because of a forbidden-fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than it is in any European country.

The drug war threatens the integrity of a country founded on the concept of limited government. Thanks to the drug war, the land of the free now has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It’s not possible to wage a moralistic war against consensual vices unless privacy is eliminated completely, along with the U.S. Constitution. America can either be a free country or a drug-free country, but it cannot be both.


Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy


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