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

  • Possibilianism at PopTech
    Possibilianism at PopTech

    I recently spoke at PopTech on the limits of science, the problems of false dichotomies, and my new movement of possibilianism. See the video.

  • Brain Time
    Brain Time

    The days of thinking of time as a river—evenly flowing, always advancing—are over. Time perception, just like vision, is a construction of the brain.

  • James Holmes’ Brain: Some Initial Speculations
    James Holmes’ Brain: Some Initial Speculations

    In the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting, many people had the same questions: What kind of derangement is indicated by the horrific acts of James Holmes? What is wrong with his brain? How will his mental state play out in the courts?

  • The Brain and the Law
    The Brain and the Law

    Interested in the intersection of the brain and the legal system? Watch a talk I delivered at the Royal Society for the Arts in London, entitled "The Brain and the Law".

Newsflashes

McGovern Award for excellence in Communication

David was honored to receive the 2014 John J. McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Education from the American Medical Writers' Assocation. Noted past recipients include authors Oliver Sacks and Abraham Verghese.

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.

SUM is Book of the Year: Chicago Tribune

SUM was chosen as the best book of 2009 by Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer-winning literary critic Julia Keller.

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


Coming in 2014