Just say no
The National Review, the pre-eminent journal of American conservativism, also has been one of the nation's most persistent critics of the war on drugs. In this essay, Rich Lowry pillories drug czar John Walters for his campaign against marijuana users, even as the use of more dangerous drugs is on the rise:
The fight against marijuana isn't even working on its own terms. According to the Sentencing Project, since 1992, the price of marijuana has fallen steadily, declining by 16 percent. In 1990, 84.4 percent of high-school seniors said it was easy to get marijuana. In 2002, 87.2 percent said it was easy. Daily use by high-school seniors tripled from 1990 to 2002, going from 2.2 percent to 6 percent — the same level as in 1975.
As Allen F. St. Pierre, executive director of the pro-decriminalization group NORML, puts it, "Increased arrest rates are not associated with reduced marijuana use, reduced marijuana availability, a reduction in the number of new users, reduced treatment admissions, reduced emergency-room mentions, any reduction in marijuana potency, or any increases in the price of marijuana." Besides that, the war on marijuana is a smash success.
Marijuana is not harmless, and its use should be discouraged, but in the same way, say, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day should be discouraged. The criminal-justice system should stay out of it. Twelve states have decriminalized marijuana to varying degrees, fining instead of arresting people for possessing small amounts. They recognize that — as the authors of a new study for the conservative American Enterprise Institute argue — "the case for imposing criminal sanctions for possession of small amounts of marijuana is weak."
It's good to see a publication with such stalwart conservative credentials waging the good fight against the nation's hippocritical and costly drug war. But I'm starting to despair of seeing this nation enact a more sensible drug policy anytime in the near future.