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

  • Perception on TNT
    Perception on TNT

    I am the scientific advisor for the TNT television drama, Perception, starring Eric McCormack and Rachael Leigh Cook. Learn more about the show.

  • Why public dissemination of science matters
    Why public dissemination of science matters

    Communicating science to the public can take time away from a busy research career. So why should scientists do it? I offer a manifesto of six reasons in the Journal of Neuroscience. 

  • The Mystery of Expertise
    The Mystery of Expertise

    To the extent that consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks. It's easy to understand why you would not want to be consciously aware of the intricacies of your muscle movement, but this can be less intuitive when applied to your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs, which are also final products of…

  • Houston Modern Luxury's Men of Style
    Houston Modern Luxury's Men of Style

    I had the honor of being selected as one of Houston Modern Luxury's Men of Style.

Newsflashes

How the Internet will save civilization

David's iPad app "Why the Net Matters, or Six Ways to Avert the Collapse of Civilization" was recently called a "superbook" by the New York Times Magazine. For a taste of the argument, read David's article in WIRED or watch a video of his talk at the Long Now Foundation. Don't have an iPad? The manuscript is now available as an eBook.

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.

Synesthesia book wins the Montaigne Medal

Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia has been awarded the Montaigne Medal, Eric Hoffer Award for Books.
synesthesia

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


Coming in 2014