Time to End the War on Drugs?

To liberalise or prohibit?  I recently joined Eliot Spitzer, Julian Assange, Vicente Fox, Russell Brand, Richard Branson and several others for an online live debate hosted by Google, YouTube, and Intelligence Squared.

For those who missed the debate, it's now online (my contribution occurs at 1:17):

 

For the short version, here's my position on the War on Drugs: Attacking the drug supply will never work. In the United States we spend over 20 billion dollars a year on the War on Drugs, and it's wasted money. This is because the drug supply is like a water balloon: if you push it down in one location, it comes up somewhere else. The better strategy is not to address supply, but demand. Drug demand is rooted in the brain of the addict. We know quite a bit about the circuitry and pharmacology of drug addiction, and there are many fruitful new approaches to addressing the ills of drug addiction in a cooperative, evidence-based, neurally-compatible manner. Dealing with drug addiction through rehabilitation is a more humane and cost effective idea than mass incarceration of the addicted.

For the fleshed-out version of this argument, please see my paper: Why Neuroscience Matters for a Rational Drug Policy.

Also, here's an interesting summary article of the problems with the current War on Drugs: 32 Reasons Why We Need To End The War On Drugs.

As people sometimes say, just because using drugs is a stupid idea, that doesn't automatically make the War on Drugs a smart idea.

Leave a comment

From the Blog

  • The Brain and the Law
    The Brain and the Law

    Interested in the intersection of the brain and the legal system? Watch a talk I delivered at the Royal Society for the Arts in London, entitled "The Brain and the Law".

  • Will Self
    Will Self

    The author Will Self and I appeared on stage together to discuss life, death, and what makes good writing.

  • Scanning a 3,000 year old mummy
    Scanning a 3,000 year old mummy

    I recently performed a CT scan on Neskhons, an Egyptian mummy who I brought to our scanning facilities at Baylor College of Medicine.  

  • Remembering a trail blazer - Francis Crick
    Remembering a trail blazer - Francis Crick

    Francis Crick, one of the premier biologists of the 20th century, passed away July 28, 2004, in San Diego. On his 88th birthday last June, I brought him chocolates and spent the day with him in his home in La Jolla.

Newsflashes

Why the Net Matters on BBC Today

Listen to an interview on BBC's Today Programme regarding the new iPad book Why the Net Matters.

Sum on Radiolab

Listen to David discussing Sum -- and actor Jeffrey Tambor reading stories from the book -- on WNYC's Radiolab.

McGovern Award for excellence in Communication

David was honored to receive the 2014 John J. McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Education from the American Medical Writers' Assocation. Noted past recipients include authors Oliver Sacks and Abraham Verghese.

You are here:   HomeBlogTime to End the War on Drugs?


Coming in 2014