Don’t Give the Public What it Wants

As John Tierney points out in today’s New York Times, the public furor over meth usage is only the most recent fracas related to a long series of poor drug-policy decisions. And why are the policies created? Beating up on drugs, and drug users, is an easy way for the political class to score points with a crime-fearing public. When the media (including journalists) hypes the threat, they are only priming the pump. On this issue, good politics makes bad policy, and will until public perceptions about the efficacy of our drug laws come to match reality.

Mark Kleiman has a good post on why meth, as it stands now, is probably not a good candidate for legalization, as Tierney sort of suggests it might be. That step might work for say, pot, and not much else. But there are lots of reform possibilities, including decriminalization of small amount possession, that might go a long way towards helping addicts of more dangerous drugs. The point here is that even common sense steps like these fall victim to joint public-politician lust for the prohibition war.