Heresy on the right: conservatives and the drug war.

Author:Sullum, Jacob
Position:Shortcomings of war on drugs, report

AT THE AMERICAN Enterprise Institute's annual dinner in March, a black-tie affair attended by Vice President Cheney and other Republican luminaries, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa gave a keynote address in which he regretted that "repression takes priority over persuasion in the war on drugs." The line attracted only a smattering of applause from the 1,500 or so attendees--even less than his positive references to gay marriage and abortion rights.

But just a few weeks later, AEI, a bastion of inside-the-Beltway conservatism, published a report that departs from conventional wisdom about the war on drugs in startling and significant ways. An Analytic Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy, written by independent policy analyst David Boyum and University of Maryland criminologist Peter Reuter, does not advocate the repeal of prohibition, but it does reject central aspects of the drug policy status quo.

Boyum and Reuter conclude that "the case for imposing criminal sanctions for possession of small amounts of marijuana is weak"; that "domestic enforcement should be directed toward reducing drug-related problems, such as violence around drug markets...

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