Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Economist revisits long standing commitment to ending prohibition

The Economist this week runs one of its cover-story drug policy and law reform special issues. This latest installment, that follows previous efforts in 1993 and 2001 features the cover below , four detailed briefings and leader column. The Economist has a readership of 1.2 million (half of them in the US) is highly influential and widely read by a demographic with a serious interest in economics - from all political persuasions, despite its generally right leaning economic perspective.




This latest installment comes at a timely moment; coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of the Shanghai opium convention that signaled the dawn of the prohibitionist drug control paradigm, and the UN High Level Segment in Vienna where it is all beginning to unravel.

This weeks' publication features four detailed briefings on attempts to deal with drugs:

The leader is titled Failed states and Failed politics: How to Stop the Drug Wars. It notes that;

"Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs."


Anonymous said...

Thanks to The Economist. Sounds salutary, trenchant and sensible.
But will this arrogant and out-of-touch government listen or show leadership? Don't hold your breath. They claim to be following an evidence-based policy – ask the ACMD about that! My oh my – what hilarious signal did the Class B fiascos over marijuana and now ecstasy send?
The Top Question for the UK Government is ...what evidence is there to clearly demonstrate that the prohibition of drugs has been or ever could be more successful than the prohibition of alcohol?
How could the Government send clear signals when it is itself confused?
Great that the LibDems have stepped up to the plate - will David Cameron join them and contribute to the honesty, openness and integrity in drug policy that Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau and the world desperately need?
Congratulations to President Obama for calling off the Feds in the US - pity his troops on the ground in Vienna are off-message as yet. It will be American leadership that will make the difference though, and therefore important that time is given for the new Drug Czar to reflect on the stupidity, waste and barbarism of the failed 'war on drugs'.
Danny Kushlick's call for a pause before we rush to judgment again should be supported by all who wish to REALLY protect our children and our communities from continuing the corruption, violence and drug (including alcohol, lest we forget) abuse engendered by prohibition is appropriate and timely.
Just off to buy a copy!
Dante Cymru

Anonymous said...

It struck me a while ago actually that one of the most basic tenets of economics shows us that drug prohibition is stupid and counterproductive. Supply and Demand.

There is a roughly fixed demand for drugs. (In fact recently when cannabis was classified down in this country usage went down, suggesting that if there is any relationship between level of criminal sanctions and usage that it is negatively correlated rather than positively) Therefore by attempting to limit the supply, all 'the war on drugs' can achieve is more profit for those in the black market..

The stupid bastards in governments should have their cahonies slowly chewed off by rats for not admitting this and continuing policies which cause so much harm.


Steve Rolles said...

anon - Agree with you re supply demand dynamics but I don't think there's a negative correlation - even if there may be pressures pushing in both direction under different legal scenarios. Cannabis use - according to the BCS figures has been falling since around 2001-2; the point being that the changing classification did not impact on that trend. Whilst there are many variable that impact on levels of use enforcement policy appears marginal or irrelevant - with social/economic/cultural factors being the key drivers.

Majeed Neky said...

Incredibly important source to have on side! Keep up all the good work guys

Anonymous said...

Not sure economists are the best 'experts' to pray in aid of your case at the moment. Mind you, one step above bankers, I suppose...