"The Drug War is Lost" interview with Milton Friedman

As we go forward with our war on the drug war, I think it's important that we keep it clear that this is an issue that everyone can agree on, regardless of where they lie on the political spectrum.

I recently stumbled a 1992 interview with Milton Friedman (Nobel laureat in Economic Science), conducted by Der Spiegel entitled "The Drug War is Lost". What's amazing is how much of what is said applies today. Someone posting as Anne was kind enough to translate the article and post it on usenet. I found it quite pithy, and reposted it here on my blog. There are some pithy quotes. For example:

On the pharmaceuticals industry:

S: Who should produce the drugs? F: Those who can do it best — the pharmaceuticals industry. S: But they would only reluctantly produce products which cause addiction. F: What kind of nonsense are you telling me? A big portion of the pharmaceuticals on the market are addictive. There are people who are addicted to Aspirin, dependent on sleeping pills or won’t get by without pain relievers.

On addiction:

S: To use the alcohol market as an example: Do you see “Light Heroin” or a “Cocaine for Beginners” in special displays in your drugstores? F: Why not, we also have Light Beer and low-alcohol Wine. For both of those there’s a public market. In this discussion, though, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget: the real winner in a legalized drug market is the consumer. The legal drugs would be much cleaner, their active ingredients indicated on the side of the package, the dangers of overdose given also… S: …and the number of addicts will rise steeply, my friend. F: There’s not one single empirical study to support that argument. The opposite is the case. The cessation of alcohol prohibition led to no increase of alcohol consumption in the long run. Actually the number of alcohol-related deaths fell, because the products were cleaner. And since Marijuana was legalized in Holland, Marijuana abuse has gone down, and similar data comes out of Alaska, where for one year now the possession of Marijuana for personal use hasn’t been punished.
It is well worth reading the interview in its entirety.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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