Time to End the War on Drugs?

To liberalise or prohibit?  I recently joined Eliot Spitzer, Julian Assange, Vicente Fox, Russell Brand, Richard Branson and several others for an online live debate hosted by Google, YouTube, and Intelligence Squared.

For those who missed the debate, it's now online (my contribution occurs at 1:17):

 

For the short version, here's my position on the War on Drugs: Attacking the drug supply will never work. In the United States we spend over 20 billion dollars a year on the War on Drugs, and it's wasted money. This is because the drug supply is like a water balloon: if you push it down in one location, it comes up somewhere else. The better strategy is not to address supply, but demand. Drug demand is rooted in the brain of the addict. We know quite a bit about the circuitry and pharmacology of drug addiction, and there are many fruitful new approaches to addressing the ills of drug addiction in a cooperative, evidence-based, neurally-compatible manner. Dealing with drug addiction through rehabilitation is a more humane and cost effective idea than mass incarceration of the addicted.

For the fleshed-out version of this argument, please see my paper: Why Neuroscience Matters for a Rational Drug Policy.

Also, here's an interesting summary article of the problems with the current War on Drugs: 32 Reasons Why We Need To End The War On Drugs.

As people sometimes say, just because using drugs is a stupid idea, that doesn't automatically make the War on Drugs a smart idea.

Leave a comment

From the Blog

  • My favorite New Yorker cartoon. Ever.
    My favorite New Yorker cartoon. Ever.

    I'm a sucker for time jokes.

  • New Scientist time story
    New Scientist time story

    New Scientist magazine recently featured my time perception research as their cover story. 

  • Why I am a Possibilian
    Why I am a Possibilian

    Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. I call myself a possibilian. Find out why.

  • Italy's STYLE magazine: Idea Guys for 2012
    Italy's STYLE magazine: Idea Guys for 2012

    Think it's unlikely for a scientist to be featured on the cover of an Italian fashion magazine? Me too! But strange things happen...

Newsflashes

Emily Blunt reads for the Sum audio book

Hear the actress Emily Blunt (Young Victoria, Devil Wears Prada) read "The Cast" from Sum. She is one of the dozens of terrific actors who read for the audio book.

6 Ways the Internet Will Save Civilization

Read David's new article in Wired magazine: "Apocalyse? No. Six Ways the Internet Will Save Civilization"

Why the Net Matters on BBC Today

Listen to an interview on BBC's Today Programme regarding the new iPad book Why the Net Matters.

You are here:   HomeBlogTime to End the War on Drugs?


Coming in 2014