Members of the Libertarian Party applauded a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof calling for an end to the War on Drugs. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s start of the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won,” Kristof writes.
Last month, drug-tolerant Netherlands announced it was closing eight prisons because there wasn’t enough violent crime in the country. The United States is suffering no such shortage, with five times the rate of incarceration of the average developed country, even though its prison population prior to Richard Nixon’s declaration of the War on Drugs was comparable to that of the Netherlands.
Violence is not a legacy of drugs. It is a legacy of drug laws. Former LP candidate for Treasurer in California Less Antman notes, “A hundred years ago, nearly all Americans could buy alcohol and heroin at the general store with no restrictions or even prescriptions, yet rates of addiction were not much different than today. Some abstained, some used these items responsibly, and some misused them, just as happens now. But the streets were much safer, the government much smaller, and the businesses supplying these products didn’t need to be skilled at violence.”