It’s Time to Admit: Drugs Won the War on Drugs

by Art Carden
The American Institute for Economic Research

As I write this, we still don’t know who won the presidency. It is, however, time to declare at least one winner. After almost sixty years of fighting, it’s clear that the War on Drugs is almost over and drugs have won. As the Associated Press reports, recreational marijuana has been legalized in New Jersey and Arizona, it looks like it is about to be legalized in Montana and South Dakota, medical marijuana has been approved in Mississippi, and Oregon has loosened restrictions on hard drugs.

As I wrote in 2012, “Prohibition is a textbook example of a policy with negative unintended consequences.” Libertarians have opposed drug prohibition for two main reasons. First, there’s a simple, rights-based argument saying that what I put in my body is basically my business, not the government’s—and a government that is big enough and powerful enough to tell you what you can and cannot smoke or snort is big enough and powerful enough to tell you that you can’t buy extra-large soft drinks or cook with trans fats.

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