Nicholas Kristof is having an epiphany!
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Yo Nicholas — your ambivalence was passive kerosene to help the War on Drugs make America the world’s No. 1 Prison. We have more prisoners than China. We have more prisoners than Russia. So thanks for the decades of ambivalence, it was mother’s milk to the scoundrels who’ve grown rich and powerful from the War on Drugs.
Let President Richard Nixon clue you in about what the War on Drugs was all about from the get-go. He explained his drug policies to his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman:
“… you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”
(From Haldeman’s 1994 memoirs.)
Of course you’re not a racist. But thanks for enabling 40 years of racists. Keep on Ambivalencing!
— Bob Merkin
The New York Times
(daily broadsheet USA /
also owns and is threatening
to close The Boston Globe)
Saturday 13 June 2009
Time to Legalize Drugs?
by Nicholas Kristof
My Sunday column looks at the 40-year “war on drugs” and argue that it has failed and that it is time for a dramatic rethink of drug policy. I haven’t written about drugs before because I’ve been ambivalent — in particular, I’ve worried that liberalization would lead to an increase in drug use. I’m not one of those who thinks that drugs are fine — on the contrary, I’ve seen how narcotics can devastate families, even countries. My home town of Yamhill, Oregon, has been hit hard by the Meth explosion.
Yet over the last year I’ve swung toward liberalization, for three reasons. First, the evidence suggests that any increase in use from liberalization would be minor, if there was one at all. Second, Mexico and Afghanistan have shown how American drug policy empowers foreign cartels/terrorists and destabilizes foreign countries. Third, the tens of billions of dollars spent on the drug war seem a vast misallocation of resources at a time we’re struggling to pay for education and health care.
I don’t know precisely what policy I’m in favor of. Decriminalization to start with, as some European countries have done. But maybe we should look at a legalization model as well, with state liquor stores or pharmacists selling narcotics and raising money through taxes. With cigarettes we’ve seen that an aggressive combination of taxation and public health campaigning can reduce addictive behavior, so maybe those are the better tools to apply to narcotics. I hope to continue looking at these issues and thinking about them. Your thoughts most welcome.