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

  • Brain Time
    Brain Time

    The days of thinking of time as a river—evenly flowing, always advancing—are over. Time perception, just like vision, is a construction of the brain.

  • A note about head shape in mummies
    A note about head shape in mummies

    A few months ago I scanned a 3,000 mummy. What can (and can't) be concluded based on his perspicuously elongated skull shape, known as dolicocephy (elongated head)?  

  • Profile in The New Yorker
    Profile in The New Yorker

    I had the pleasure of being profiled by my favorite magazine, The New Yorker.  Read the article here.

  • 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.  

Newsflashes

Eagleman TEDx talk

See David Eagleman's TEDx talk entitled "The Future of Reality"

Musician Jarvis Cocker reads from Sum

Listen to British rocker Jarvis Cocker read the story "Descent of Species" from Sum. He is one of the dozens of terrific voices who read for the audio book.

Guggenheim Fellowship

David has been named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He will use the fellowship opportunity to pursue the genetics and neuroimaging of synesthesia.

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


Coming in 2014