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Theodore Dalrymple
On the Legalization of Drugs « Back to Story

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Well said, Mr. Dalrymple! Couldn't agree more.
The Libertarian often finds himself in defense against the label of anarchist. As a general rule, I find many libertarians believe in the role of law and government as protecting us from others, not from ourselves. Hence often referring to drug use (and abuse) as a "victimless crime". If it is self-inflicted, you are not your own victim.

Driving however does readily affect others, as causing accidents. Either through direct impact or by creating confusion on the roads. So I don't see it as comparable to drug laws.

(re: speech laws, "offence" does not make a victim).
Read a couple articles by you now and I can say only this..Take your fancy name, and your fancy arguments n stick them up in that place place you keep your head! Try making a genuine contribution to society by spreading truths not opinion! As an editor and an institute fellow you have a responsibility to do so, not to single out groups that you personally don't like and try to justify doing so with 'tarded analogies
dionissis mitropoulos December 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM
Lili Marlene said:
"That's what separates [the psychiatrist] him from the average drug dealer".

You mean the legal right, or the tenacity?
Life at the Bottom is semi-autobiographical fiction. Dalrymple is writing about the mentally ill, not drug addicts. Two very distinct groups of people. The good doctor is a psychiatrist and the law permits him to forcibly medicate his patients and he clings to this right with tenacity of a man who is drowning. That's what separates him from the average drug dealer.
I read "Life at the Bottom" many years ago and I can understand why you might go along with drug laws ;-) Most libertarians I've talked to would probably agree that drug abuse causes serious problems for society. Also, most libertarians would agree that some government is needed to restrain people from hurting others. They also think drug laws and the dysfunctional enforcement of such causes more problems by far than are solved. Libertarians then conclude that govt should stick to the basics of providing military protection from foreign enemies and police protection from domestic criminals. Another key idea they have is that govt is at best a necessary evil and should, therefore, be kept to a minimum, with few laws at the top level of govt (federal) and most at the local level (city) where local customs should prevail.

Mr. Dalrymple equates the use of illegal drugs to the breaking of speed limit laws as a similar problem in societal behavior and merits criminal prosecution(justifiable prevention). When someone drives recklessly, they endanger everyone in proximity to them. Driving faster than the speed limit does not necessarily always fall into that category and he suggests nearly everybody "speeds" regularly. It can be argued that governmental entities also strictly enforce speed limit laws for the purpose of filling their coffers as much as for preventing endangerment to the public.
The same can be said of using recreational drugs. Billions of dollars are spent every year by Americans using illegal drugs. There are (I suspect) millions of people under the influence of marijuana and other mood altering drugs used in this country every day. There are some who endanger others around them when using drugs, but again, I suspect most people go about their business and never adversely affect others around them. However, The monetary costs of catching, prosecuting, and incarcerating them is in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Constitutional rights are trampled not to mention the brutal societal costs of lives lost because of the ongoing war with the drug cartels.
I do not approve of the use of recreational drugs any more than I do about performing abortion or practicing homosexuality. I simply believe it is wrong. But I am also strongly against pushing my beliefs on others by passing laws to make them behave as I believe.

If an impartial cost/benefit analysis were performed on the enforcement of our drug laws, one could only conclude it is a big waste of police, courts, and prisons not to mention the tax dollars to run them. This is a big business. We simply cannot afford this war and the lost freedom we have as humans to control our own lives. Those who use drugs in a reckless manner toward others should be held accountable. The rest should be left alone.
Mr. Dalrymple, who are these "libertarians" you are talking about? I have never read an argument in support of unrestrained drug availability from any reasonable person. What I HAVE heard, over and over, is that drugs should be treated as a public health issue, not a criminal issue. Many dangerous drugs are addicting. Addiction is a health concern for not only the person taking the drugs, but people around that person! Unfortunately, however, there are still drugs which must be purchased illegally in the U.S. in spite of the fact they are non-addicting and safer than over-the-counter medications.
There have been many interesting studies done on the effects of speed limits and the results are not necessarily what one might expect.

The first thing to recognize is that all data on the dangers of speeding is seriously skewed. This is because speeding is defined for the purposes of accident reporting as being traveling faster than the posted speed limit rather than driving too fast for conditions as it should be.

Now imagine if we dropped the speed limit on the freeway to 30mph. Virtually all drivers would "speed" under this regime and therefore "excessive speed" would be listed as a contributing factor in almost every accident.
An objective look at the real causes of the accidents would reveal that most of the accidents were caused not by the absolute velocity of any vehicle but by vehicles traveling at differing speeds with the biggest differential in speeds being caused by the few steadfast law abiders who refused to travel faster than thirty mph. These Good Citizens would be causing unnecessary lane changes and rapid accelerations and decelerations among other drivers who are perfectly rationally driving at a higher than posted but entirely safe speeds.

So, in this example (and while the freeway example is just for illustration, the phenomenon of irrationally low speed limits causing an increase in accidents is demonstrable on many surface streets) obeying the law is demonstrably immoral as it increases the risk of loss or injury to others. Remember that it is precisely this moral claim, increasing risk to others, that we use to justify imposing fines or incarceration on speeders and "impaired" drivers whether their actions led to actual harm or not.

We could, of course, reduce motor vehicle fatalities to zero by banning motor vehicles.

dionissis mitropoulos December 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Mike Walsh said:

Libertarians are adolescents, which is why you really can't argue with them.

I agree Mike, but the description that you gave fits mainly the radical Left (what Dr Richard Landes calls "self-destructive Left" on account of their disregard of the Muslim cultural threat,

I am not good with labels, so i can't give one for myself.

I am certainly a libertarian in the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, for i don't want the state to unnecessarily mess up with people's lives, but i also want the state to stay out of the economy, and this turns me into a conservative on the issue of the economy.

Labels aside, my whole concern is with freedom, and with how we can have as much of it as possible. If liberals suit my predilection for liberty on certain issues, i side with them. If conservatives do so on other issues, i side with them too on those issues.

"Their [libertarians'] arguments invariably boil down to a petulant whine: "You're not the boss of me!""

I endorse the statement that castigates (gratuitous) state bosshood, but i do not consider myself petulant: i am only fearful of undue state intervention.

And i am not whining, i am just asking for what i deem to be my moral right, namely to treat my body as i wish.

For the record, i welcome state intervention in internet and CCTV monitoring for the purpose of combating terrorism and crime - true crime, not drug use.

Shouldn't we be concerned with Muslim bombs instead of spliffs?


The pertinent observation was my initial one: "Libertarians are adolescents, which is why you really can't argue with them." Their arguments invariably boil down to a petulant whine: "You're not the boss of me!"
dionissis mitropoulos December 12, 2012 at 9:33 PM
Mike Walsh said:

"I think a better analogy is the decision to close the state mental hospitals. The legacy of that policy being streets populated by sad, shambling schizophrenics."

The analogy of legalizing drugs with closing down mental hospitals is an inaccurate one.

Closing down the hospitals is equivalent to the state harming people gratuitously (mainly the patients, but i see you are more concerned with the aesthetic perceptions of the non-mentally ill public that would have to endure "streets populated by sad, shambling schizophrenics").

Legalizing drugs is not equivalent to the state harming someone gratuitously. The only ones hurt will be the users, but they are consenting to this form of self-harm, so there is no gratuitous harm done by the state, because the harm has been asked for by the drug user herself.

"People who speak of drug legalization often think in terms of the experience of Prohibition: a false analogy if there ever was one."

Yes, that's precisely what i do, i speak of drug legalization and think about it from the perspective of the experience of prohibition, i.e. i justify legalization on the grounds that i feel terribly to be told by the state how i am going to treat my body.

But thinking along those lines, i never needed to allude to any analogy, let alone a false one - as you claim that my purported analogy was.

Would you be so kind to inform me which analogy i used without my knowledge?

After all, i have been kind enough to inform you of the falsity of your analogy.
All roads should have a 1 mph speed limit therefore, according to Mr Dalrymple, no one would ever have an accident.

How in the hell do people get that way?
The analogy you are using is rhetorically dishonest. Speeding by its nature is an activity that can have many negative externalities if done to excess; many speeding accidents directly and manifestly injure others who are not speeding, who have no relation to the speeder, and are merely on the same road at the same time, wishing to go about their business unmolested.

Using this analogy I could see an argument against using drugs if one is a pregnant woman. Of course, it's unclear what legal framework exists today to prevent alcohol abuse when a woman is pregnant, so this further undermines your analogy -- the contrapositive of your contention is that since there is no real rule against it, we as a society must not follow the rule. When we hold up your argument to this light, it's obvious how ridiculous it is. Laws are in fact guidelines. Ask any cop who has passed on giving a ticket to a "speeder" because the speeder was driving safely for the conditions at hand.

The crux of anti-prohibition thinking is that a) prohibition does more harm to society than good (unlike speeding laws) by enriching criminal elements and b) when one uses drugs incorrectly, for the vast majority of the time, it is to the detriment of the user, and not others who happen to be walking down the sidewalk.

And before you argue that parents who use drugs are a detriment to their children, or some other such red herring, please note that under your own logical framework, since drinking to excess and being a lousy parent is not illegal, then you cannot by extension have any qualms with such a situation that flows from parents who are lousy because they are potheads or cokeheads.

I'm a huge, huge fan of your books and articles, but I strongly disagree with you on this issue. I think your analogy between drug laws and speeding limits is faulty in two ways: 1) Accidents caused by speeding often cause harm to other drivers who did not chose to take the risk of speeding, not just to the driver who is speeding. 2) There is no black market in speeding controlled by violent and powerful criminal gangs.

Setting aside abstract questions about whether individuals should have the right to consume whatever chemicals they chose, as a practical matter the havoc caused by the criminals who control the market for illicit drugs is far worse than the harm caused by the drugs themselves. And for all of that I don't see much evidence that we've actually succeeded in preventing very many of those who want illegal drugs from actually getting them.

We already tried this experiment in the US with prohibition and the only good thing that came out of it was some good gangster movies. With drug prohibition we haven't even gotten some entertainment out of the deal.
Libertarians are adolescents, which is why you really can't argue with them. They also accept the same deformed philosophical premises of progressives, e.g. that freedom=autonomy, with the difference that the latter worship the State rather than the individual. (A traditional view of freedom is faith-based, and offers a deeper and wider anthropology than either of the liberal choices.) People who speak of drug legalization often think in terms of the experience of Prohibition: a false analogy if there ever was one. I think a better analogy is the decision to close the state mental hospitals. The legacy of that policy being streets populated by sad, shambling schizophrenics. For a similar reason (i.e. to get their hands on the money being spent on enforcement) some politicians favor legalization, with the empty promise that much of the money currently spent on cops will be spent on rehabilitation. Fat chance.
dionissis mitropoulos December 09, 2012 at 2:20 PM
I protest that your analogy between speed limits and drug use is inaccurate: driving fast might harm OTHERS, taking drugs harms ONESELF.

The state has the right to prevent harm to third parties due to my actions. It has no right at all to prevent ME from harming myself.

The state doesn't even have the excuse that it is acting in my best interests: not only it actually hurts me with legal sanctions, but it also frustrates me psychologically by interfering with with my freedom to treat my body as i wish.

Does fining me or imprisoning me for drug use, along with curtailing my sense of living in a free society, count as acting in my best interests?

So if we continue the analogy whatever foolishness we inherited from our forebears should be continued. Dallas Texas, for instance, had a law that it was necessary to discharge a firearm at an intersection . It made infinite sense at the time since cattle roamed rather freely and hitting one of them would be the destruction of someones property .
It also would lead to public safety since the cow probably weighed the same as the car and the automobiles occupants could be seriously injured.
One might even carry this silliness to the drinking , discharging a firearm, and Dallas Texas intersections. Alcohol is not known to improve the aim or the reluctance of drinker to untoward actions so the law being the law and cowboys being cowboys there could easily be repeated discharge of firearms, especially on a Saturday night since cattle would be a particular problem at that time and none would wish to disobey the ordinance.
Perhaps we can see a pattern here; firearms , and alcohol ,and arcane laws. Firearms are legal and their discharge is regulated, even in Texas. Alcohol is legal and there are rules about its use that have evolved over time. We won't elaborate about Prohibition and arcane laws.
But they changed the constitution to allow for drinking and as society evolves laws dealing with uses of drugs will also .
I disagree with your analogy. Roads are a public good, whereas drugs - legal or not - are not public goods. That is why there are requirements for operating a motor vehicle on public roads (auto insurance, obeying traffic laws). I would be in favor of regulating and taxing many illegal drugs in the same manner we regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco.
"... because [Libertarians]rarely say exactly what they mean by “___________.”

You hit the nail on the head. Swap out any issue for "legalization."
I appreciate Dalrymple as oone of very few liberals, who keeps arguing against socalled liberalization of drug laws. The example of speed driving is well taken, but think of the combination of speed driving and drug intoxication. Fred Hansen
DilloTank, below, made the following comment, which I believe to be true.

Young people can obtain illegal drugs much more easily than alcohol, a legal drug.

Anyone who thinks the present drug laws are working should read that statement again, and reflect upon it for five minutes.

An adult drug user in any town can phone his dealer and have drugs delivered to his door within 15 minutes - faster than a takeaway pizza, faster than an ambulance if he is ill.

I detest drugs and I would prefer prohibition, but I have to admit that prohibition doesn't work. The alternative is not a free-for-all, but some kind of legal regulation as we have for alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco are both substances that cause a great deal of death and misery. If they had remained undiscovered until this year, they would immediately be prohibited; yet we have learned to live with them, and we have little choice in the matter because they are so widely used. I reluctantly suggest that we need to take the same attitude to marijuana.
It is not a great analogy because governments own and run roads but they don't own and run our bodies. If, as many libertarians would prefer, roads were privately owned and managed instead, then even the owner would have to set and enforce some rules for travelling on them.
Is it sweeps week already?
Can I expect an article on the benefits of male circumcision tomorrow?
Have you ever written an article where everyone who comments disagrees with you? Must mean something.
Nice discussion of abstract nothings that never had anything to do with the marijuana laws. Let's start from the beginning with the actual logic used for the marijuana laws.

Marijuana was outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy." The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of mj - exactly the opposite of the modern "gateway" nonsense.

Only one MD testified at the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The representative of the American Medical Association said there was no evidence that mj was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. He pointed out that it was used in hundreds of common medicines at the time, with no significant problems. In response, the committee told him that, if he wasn't going to cooperate, he should shut up and leave.

The only other "expert" to testify was James C. Munch, a psychologist. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected mj directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn't know what to conclude because he wasn't a dog psychologist.

Mr. Munch also testified in court, under oath, that mj would make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood. He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat. He then described how he flew around the room for two hours and then found himself at the bottom of a 200-foot-high inkwell.

Mr. Munch was the only "expert" in the US who thought mj should be illegal so he was appointed US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served and guided policy for 25 years. See for a more complete history of the lunacy.

So the first question for Mr. Dalyrymple is:

When did the marijuana laws change from absolute lunacy to something sensible? When were they ever about the things you have mentioned?

The next quetion for Mr. Dalyrymple is quite simple:

Can you name any significant study of the drug laws in the last 100 years that agrees with you?

Take a look at Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy at That collection includes the full text of every major government commission report on drugs from around the world over the last 100 years. Not one of them agrees with Mr. Dalyrymple.

In 1973, President Nixon's US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse completed the largest study of the drug laws ever done. At the end of their study, they said the real drug problem was not marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine.

The real drug problem, they said, was the ignorance of the people who have never bothered to read the most basic research. Mr. Dalyrymple proves that what they said is still true. He simply doesn't have a clue why we have marijuana laws. Neither does he have a clue when the supposed reasons changed from absolute lunacy to the newly-made-up excuses he uses. Neither has he read any of the major government commission reports.

All this ignorance is typical of prohibitionists. Prohibitionists have two major characteristics. The first is that they really don't know anything about the subject. Mr. Dalrymple shows that in this article.

The second is that they really don't want to know anything. For example, even though Mr. D has been given the links to better info, I will bet he doesn't read a word of it. And that is the real drug problem.
Please take a second to compare the number of people imprisoned or killed, or property ruined or lost (either by the state or by private actors) in the drug trade, to the number of people similarly affected by "speech codes," and see if this isn't the stupidest argument for continued prohibition yet.

Until campus busybodies are tricked out like DEA agents on a raid this holds zero water.
Traffic regulation is in no way comparable to the laws created for the so called war on drugs. Reckless driving indeed endangers the lives and property of other drivers. Use of illicit drugs endangers only the life of the abuser himself. Our courts and prisons are not over populated with reckless drivers as they are with drug dealers, users etc.. We spend billions of dollars trying to curtail the illicit production, distribution and end use of drugs. This is not the case with traffic control. If nothing, we as a society should have learned long ago that it is impossible to protect people from themselves. If someone is determined to destroy his own life with illicit use of drugs we should know that there is really no way of stopping him short of throwing him into the prison system. Once time is served and he is released/paroled there is a 90% probability he will return to his drug abusing ways once again.
Well written but a poorly conceived analysis. Whoever these Libertarians are who rarely say what “legalization” means, the definition is much simpler than Dalrymple may personally believe. In fact, it is exactly the same definition employed for today’s perfectly legal drug – we call this legal drug “hooch”, “booze” or alcoholic beverages. Taxes are paid on their sale. Manufacture and distribution is controlled by local, state and federal laws. Age restrictions are imposed on those who can legally purchase these “drugs”. The reasons a snort of cocaine and a bottle of Jack Daniels are treated differently is due to no logical analysis, instead that contradictory approach merely reflects our long term customs and ingrained habits.

Can we modify our habitual view of drugs to something more intellectually mature and adult in our understanding – we could if writers like this author would honestly attempt to inform people about drugs rather than weave trite morality tales. Criminalizing drugs has little effect on drug addiction because less than 3% of first time drug users will eventually become addicts and it takes considerable passage of time to progress to full blown mental/physical addiction rather than remaining simply an infrequent user (like a week-end social drinker).

No country in the world has legalized drugs as of this very second. Some countries have decriminalized drug usage while the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs remains a crime and a serious crime at that (yes, even in Holland). But what disasters would befall America if we fully legalized drug usage? Look around your community, do you see large numbers of addicts? Now look back in America’s history to the time when drug usage was completely legal – laudanum and how Coca-Cola originally got its name are Wikipedia search keys. Do you think America survived this period without creating a large number of drug addicts?

So why do we criminalize drugs? Two basic reasons: We’re afraid of what will happen if we de-criminalize additional drugs and certain Americans have found it in their self-interest to keep drugs as fully illegal rather than legally controlled items. As to the latter reason, it isn’t some evil conspiracy, rather it’s in the self-interest of our justice system employees to enforce and prosecute criminal drug violations. And pursuing self-interest doesn’t make these Americans mustache twirling villains, in actuality they are among our most valued and respected citizens. But it is easier to enforce the status quo when it also reinforces your personal well-being and financial self-interest – not a deliberate deception, more of an unconscious imperative.

We also fully realize what will happen if we refuse to decriminalize certain drugs. Our prisons will remain full of drug dealers and, in truth, many of these dealers would have ended up in prison for another type of crime, they’re a waste of skin from early adulthood but a mature analysis of capital punishment is a different exercise best saved for another time. The point is you and your family are being taxed to feed, clothe and house these incarcerated dealers on a long term basis and what possible benefit is that to you, your family and society at large?

Additionally, we Americans are not a very moral people but what our country is doing to citizens of other countries like Mexico puts us in the same moral category as child molesters and sexual slavery practitioners. How many more innocent people must die because we won’t face up to our country’s drug problem and enact responsible laws?
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would one day accuse my guru of being disingenuous.The overwhelming reasons why the vast majority of those wanting some form of decriminalisation is simply to get this dangerous trade out of the hands of criminals to ensure that anyone using these drugs can be assured of a minimum basic quality that does not contain harmful additives and going some way to eliminating the appalling world wide crime wave prohibition has caused.
So the libertarians simply don't correlate the ensuing sloth and irresponsibility and the immediately following despair of where they're going to get the money to buy the drugs they are now addicated to and crave. Thus, the robberies, assaults, ensuing violence, rapes and so forth which is associated with "recreational" drug abuse have no effect upon the "mind" of the libertarians?
"Living in a civilized society means accepting laws that one did not make oneself, and that in any given situation may seem unnecessary; one has no right to complain if punished for breaking them."

The good doctor should read William J. Stuntz's "The Pathological Politics of Criminal Law"
Imbibing a drug may endanger the lives of others but only if one is engaged in DUI. From our Prohibition history, it is hopeless to prevent people from imbibing drugs. And we cannot prevent all cases of DUI.

Therefore, people should have the right to imbibe ANYTHING unless engaged in an activity that could endanger others. But we must also punish DUI very severely. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.
The metaphor is not appropriate because driving dangerously endangers other people. Smoking a joint does not. There is no crime.
I am not a libertarian!!!

I don't see why prohibition of drugs should be viewed any different than prohibition of alcohol. It's a nice theory that didn't work in practice. Thanks to the prohibition of alcohol in the 20s, we have the American mafia. And thanks to the prohibition of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, we have Latin American drug cartels. America was doing ok when heroin/opium, cocaine and marijuana were legal. Of course there were individuals with problems, this has been true since the beginning of time and, I predict this problem will be with us always.

It is an incontrovertible truth that most people that have drug or alcohol problems are exposed to drugs or alcohol at a young age. For many obvious reasons, as a society, we should be focusing our efforts on educating youth about the reality of drugs/alcohol. And trying to keep drugs and alcohol out of the hands of minors.

If a minor wants to obtain alcohol (without parental consent), he must find an adult to supply the alcohol, and the adult must commit a crime to procure the alcohol for the minor. Most adults are not willing to do this, at least not on a regular basis. They have too much to lose. Or, the minor must steal the alcohol from a responsible adult who will suffer financial loss or notice that his alcohol is missing. These conditions have a limiting factor on the ability of minors to obtain alcohol. There is little sympathy for adults that supply alcohol to minors and the threat of legal sanction is an effective deterrent.

The situation with illegal drugs is very different. Even rather young children can obtain illegal drugs without the aid of responsible adults. Even criminal drug dealers/users have morals, and would not provide drugs to teenagers or younger children. However, the 18 year old, can obtain drugs from his 20 year old friend, and the 16 year will obtain them from the 18 year old, and so on. No responsible adult is involved. Young people can obtain illegal drugs much more easily than alcohol, a legal drug. The rule of law is very important. Many 'experts' deny this reality. I know from my direct teenage experience that in many parts of the country, this is the reality.

There are many laws that can be used to control drug abuse. Making the substance illegal is not effective. People do not believe that kids that smoke a little pot belong in jail. They believe that kids should not smoke pot that is should be handled legally the same way underage drinking is handled. They do not want adults to go to jail for minor drug offenses. They want people to go to jail for providing drugs to minors, driving while intoxicated, stealing and robbery, dealing in stolen property, and a whole host of other crimes that are associated with drug addiction.

There is no reason to create a criminal empire around the fact the a certain segment of the population is prone to drug addiction.

I would like to see the U.S. return to the policies of years ago, when heroin/opium, cocaine and marijuana were legal substances.
I have never quite understood why Marijuana should be categorized with any other drug, since it has characteristics unlike amphetamines or opiates or antidepressents or whatever. Legalizing pot is not like legalizing crack or designer drugs. So great is the bias against pot that using any of the rest of the plant is verboten, even though the Hemp plant could be one of the most useful around. The Constitution was most likely drafted on Hemp paper, since it was the most widely used paper at the time. Our nation's founders knew of Hemp and saw no problem, presumably in full knowledge of its intoxicating potential. At any rate, they saw no need to make a federal case out of it.

When you were speaking about living with the reality of laws one didn't create, I think Libertarians are pretty well adjusted to living in a lawful society, even if their philosophy of how the state should operate is fanciful and impossible in reality. Socialists and Communists suffer the same delusion of reality, just on the other side of the spectrum. Libertarians know it won't work in practice, and they don't murder millions trying. The Left, unfortunately, is still willing to murder.

I think we are moving to a much more sensible arrangement, wherein those states who want to normalize our attitude to pot do so, and those that don't, no one is forcing them to do differently. And it's not the Fed's business.
Actually, Germany started to impose speed limits on the Autoban, with the same goals as in others countries: to reduce the number of car accidents and fatal victins.
Mr. D. I think you are setting up a straw man and using a poor analogy, both surprising from someone so well thought and well spoken. First the analogy, speed limits are imposed in large part because folks share roads and one person's speeding has a significant effect on thers' safety. I suppose if you are rocketing around on your on on your "back 40", we shouldn't really care what speed you are driving.

I can't speak for libertarians but I think that it is pretty clear that "the war on drugs " has failed (BTW, speed limit enforcement works pretty well), judging by the amount of weed, blow, meth etc. available just about anywhere in this great country.

And, we have two fine models for managing substances that are harmful but that we think folks should have the freedom to use: alcohol and tobacco. Now this is where I am not libertarian at all: I think we should legalize some drugs (maybe the nastier ones are illegal but decriminalized), regulate and tax them.

We need to come to an accommodation with them as they are not going away. And, the "war on drugs" is an affront to our civil liberties. The Salvation Army and others fought gin palaces in 19th century London as nasty and exploitative (good), but prohibition in this country the next century was an overreaction. We have ended up as a society accommodating alcohol. Not perfect, but workable.
This might be a compelling analogy if the government treated drug use as it does speeding: yes, you may get an occasional fine, but jail time only if your actions kill someone else. The problem is that we have a "war" on drugs, which arguably creates more negative externalities than the problem it is meant to address. Yes, we need governmental control over drugs, but we need the RIGHT sort of governmental controls.