What do you think of drug legalization?


Further Reading


I have been greatly impressed at your dedication and thoughtful work. I am working on a debate/position/theory paper on the possible benefits in more “Regulation” of illegal (and legal) drugs. The theory is that limited concentrations and limited quantities per-individual person would moderate overconsumption, eliminate criminal drug trade, reduce availability to children and create a great taxable industry with enormous social dividends like lots of people not being in jail.

Yes I know .. Why not just nail myself to a tree and save time. Still many aspects of this “theory” seem reasonable and more humane than a war-on-america.

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on this subject. In particular I am interested in addiction models with different concentrations and quantities. (which might make it harder to “press-the-lever” so to speak) To my knowledge this kind of test marketing has never really been done. And the DEA simply “says” that everyone would become addicted if drugs were “Legalized.”

Also any data on the actual economic costs and benefits of drug use and policing of drug use. (including alcohol etc..) I have one Canadian study on this but would like a US study.

I personally use only cocoa (one quarter cup daily-@noon in fat free milk Seems to work for me. Coffee makes me nuts. )

Many Thanks


Dear Tim:

I enjoyed your letter, and your spunk.

I am involved in drug legalization efforts, through the Smart Foundation Group and the Lindesmith Center in New York, both under the direction of my friend Ethan Nadelmann. Ethan and others (for example, the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica) have calculated some of the costs of current drug policies, and you should examine the Lindesmith web site.

My contribution to this debate is to say that addiction doesn’t result solely from the amount of drugs not only available to the individual, but even that the individual takes. So I don’t fully understand your conception of allocating drugs on a per capita basis. I don’t generally prefer this level of paternalism. People can select their own amounts fairly well, and will regulate satisfactorily if their environments offer sufficient opportunities for alternative rewards. Rich DeGrandpre and I have shown that even animal bar-pressing research actually proves this to be the case.

However, your point that, in general, less concentrated doses of drugs will lead to fewer negative outcomes and offer people more control is logical. Andrew Weil, among others, has described how the shift from naturally occuring use of coca leaves in Latin America to concentrated cocaine has created an entire illicit market and drug industry with both negative pharmacological and cultural consequences. When drugs are illegal and policed, the profit is in translating them into their most concentrated forms (bootleggers didn’t smuggle beer). Not only is the indigenous drug form milder, but it is encased in local custom and methods of consumption. (Archie Brodskyand I describe this in the case of alcohol)

Best regards, Stanton

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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