Last week I briefly declared that I part company with Libertarians on the War on Drugs.
I've heard from some folks. Most were civil. But a few impugned my knowledge, a few my intelligence, and one my ancestry. So I now offer an explanation.
Note that I don't necessarily defend every aspect of our current policy. The current degree of federal involvement in regulating drugs should perhaps be changed at the margin; I don't have strong feelings about that dispute.
What I disagree with is what I take to be the Libertarian position: for adults, everything should be legal. (Or as comedian Drew Carey has cracked, "I can't believe the government has the nerve to limit the ways I can hurt myself.") Here's David Boaz and Timothy Lynch of Cato in a recent publication:
Congress should repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration, and let the states set their own policies with regard to currently illegal drugs. They would do well to treat marijuana, cocaine, and heroin the way most states now treat alcohol: It should be legal for stores to sell such drugs to adults.
I assume that if they want heroin to be legal, they would want all drugs to be legal.
I oppose that, at least for now, because I'm a conservative. I take three of the central premises of conservatism to be 1) respect for history's lessons, 2) respect for institutions, and 3) respect for the power of markets. And at present, all three lead me to doubt that full legalization would be smart.