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

  • 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".

  • New Scientist time story
    New Scientist time story

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

  • Silicon Immortality: Downloading Consciousness into Computers
    Silicon Immortality: Downloading Consciousness into Computers

    Well before we understand how brains work, we may find ourselves able to digitally copy the brain's structure and able to download the conscious mind into a computer. What are the possibilities and challenges?

  • Discussing dreaming with Henry Rollins
    Discussing dreaming with Henry Rollins

    I recently spent an evening speaking at the Rubin Museum in NYC with punk rock legend, writer, and spoken word artist Henry Rollins.  We discussed the origin, meaning, neuroscience, and bizarreness of dreams. 

Newsflashes

Sum named Book of the Year by New Scientist

Sum was the only book of fiction in New Scientist magazine's selection of Best Books of 2009.

New Scientist time story

New Scientist magazine features David Eagleman's time perception research as their cover story.
Cover of 24 October 2009 issue of New Scientist magazine

SUM at the Royal Opera House

ROHSUM has been turned into an opera at the Royal Opera House in London (Composer: Max Richter, Director: Wayne McGregor). The London Evening Standard hails the opera as "immersive, meditative and sweetly fascinating". Read about the background of the collaboration in Wired.

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


Coming in 2014