But there are things we can do about drug policy that would reduce the number of people in prison, and the extent of drug abuse and drug related crime. Legalization isn't one of them because there's not public support for it. And if we acknowledge the fact that, from the point of view of the majority of the population it's a loser, um, then it's not as if we can talk them out of that, so I think the legalization debate is mostly a distraction from doing the real work of fixing our drug policies.Kleiman has long positioned himself as somewhat of a centrist in the drug policy debate, finding fault on both sides of the fence and calling for reform while dismissing legalization as unrealistic and irresponsible. To that end, the above quote may be his most perplexing to date.
Along these same lines, I once attended a discussion of Peter Reuter and David Boyum's book An Analytic Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy, in which the authors admitted ignoring the legalization option in their analysis. Boyum claimed that there was no legitimate political support for ending the drug war and that he and Reuter had therefore confined themselves to recommendations that they thought were politically viable.
It is just depressing to witness academics confining the discussion of complex issues within the parameters of pre-existing public opinion. What's the point of possessing vast knowledge of any subject if one chooses to then limit themselves to the preferred policy prescriptions of all the people who don't know what the hell they're talking about?
Plainly, the whole don't-talk-about-drug-legalization argument as stated above has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of drug legalization. Taken at face value, these pleading solicitations for us to shut up carry with them the salient implication that if drug legalization were politically viable, then it would be a perfectly sensible thing to discuss.
Ironically, drug legalization could become politically viable overnight if not for the multitudes of influential people who continue to oppose it largely because it lacks political viability.