Elliot Currie

Recent Articles

The Limits of Legalization

Advocates of legalization confuse the effects of criminalizing drugs with the effects of social deprivation. They’re also blithely unrealistic about the impact of legalization on drug consumption and its social costs.

Like Doug Bandow, I am appalled and disheartened by the irrationality and inhumanity of the current war on drugs. Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced that the strategy he proposes is either good or feasible. James Jacobs is right: The debate over legalization is the wrong one; it diverts us from the many things we might do to reduce drug abuse and create a more sensible drug policy. The crucial problem with the case for legalization is that the proponents understate the potential costs and overstate the potential benefits of ending the criminalization of hard-drug trafficking in America. (I won't discuss marijuana because it is not the issue on which Bandow and I really differ.) The most basic concern about legalizing the sale of hard drugs is that it would Hard Drugs, Hard Choices: An Exchange on Legalization increase their availability and hence their consumption, thereby exacerbating the often devastating social costs of endemic drug abuse, especially among the most vulnerable and...