I know we have a lot of fans of The Wire on here, and I think we’ll all appreciate this series on the drug war by Culture 11 magazine. The link is to an anti drug-war piece, which itself links to a pro drug-war piece, a piece specifically on the insanity of marijuana prohibition, and then some debate between the sides. It really is the height of madness that, as a society, we aggressively promote the consumption of the two deadly drugs of alcohol and nicotine and the one moderately safe drug of caffeine (which, did you know, can be freebased like cocaine?) while devoting endless resources to combatting the production, trade, distribution and consumption of every other category of recreational drug. I would be perfectly happy to see 100% legalization of all recreational drugs for adults, replacing the entire drug war aparatus with a moderate boost in traffic cops to manage DUI cases, which are probably the main way that legal drug use can directly harm people besides the user. Of course drug use causes harm to society, but I don’t see how even unrestrained drug use by everyone who wants to go down that road could possibly cause even a fraction of the damage that has been caused by the drug war itself.
[Update] One of the comments on that first piece links to this opinion piece in Time Magazine by the chief three writers of The Wire, in which they suggest that the best way to fight the drug war is through massive civil disobedience.
If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.
Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest.
They make an interesting case. Of course, if I publically stated here that I was willing to make the same pledge, I might be disqualified from ever serving on such a jury, so I’m going to officially call it a “clever theoretical exercise in civil disobedience as a means of protest”.