Legalization of Cocaine

Topics: Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Drug, Drug policy Pages: 3 (1028 words) Published: April 11, 2006
Editorial: Cocaine Legalization 4/26/02
David Borden, Executive Director,, 4/26/02

Earlier this week, a member of the British Parliament made a very bold statement. Jenny Tonge, a prominent member of the Liberal Democrat party, called for the legalization of cocaine.

Even in the UK, where the drug policy debate has advanced dramatically further than in most places, Tonge's statement is cutting edge, going further than the already forward-looking position of the party itself. The Liberal Democrats have called for legalization of marijuana but mere decriminalization of possession for other drugs.

By US standards, Tonge's comments come across as even bolder, of course. A measure of that is the fact that even in this newsletter, where we have openly called for repeal of prohibition across the board for years, focusing in an editorial on the legalization and regulation of cocaine in particular is not something that we find especially comfortable.

But when an elected official willingly takes on the risk that Tonge has taken, it deserves support, so here we are. As scary as cocaine can be, as damaging as it often proves to individuals and the people around them, Jenny Tonge is nevertheless right on target. Cocaine, for all its perils, should not be prohibited.

Why? Because prohibition does more harm than good and is wrong in and of itself. If democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms, prohibition is a system worse than all other conceivable drug policies. Far from protecting the vulnerable from the harms of addiction, prohibition increases those harms dramatically, causing untold suffering to the unfortunate who become addicted despite the laws. The crime of the illegal drug trade devastates whole neighborhoods and exposes large segments of the population to the corrosive effects of the underground economy. And even if none of that were true, adults would still have the right to make their own...
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