War on tobacco, war on drugs: little difference.

From Dan Gardner’s blog:

The UK government asks a panel of leading scientists to give it impartial, evidence-based advice on illicit drug policy. The chairman of the panel says marijuana policy is misguided and fears about ecstasy are overblown. This is not what the government wants to hear. So the chairman is sacked. Other scientists quit in protest.

There are various dates that can be considered the beginning of the international criminal prohibition of (some) drugs. I think the Versailles Treaty of 1919 is best. Using that benchmark, we have been waging the War on Drugs for 90 years and so we have almost a century’s worth of experience and research we can draw on in assessing the wisdom of this policy. What does it show? The evidence which favours the policy is generously described as scant. That which suggests it is futile, destructive, and utterly lunatic is overwhelming.

But still the War on Drugs rolls merrily along, consuming money and lives as it has for 90 years. Why? Because the evidence doesn’t matter. It’s that simple and that sad.

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