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An introduction to the history of reforming drug laws

  • Sentencing Commission recommendation to eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences;
  • Notoriously, Clinton rejected a U;
  • I provide some simplistic but illustrative cost-effectiveness estimates comparing an imaginary campaign for DPR against current interventions for poverty, physical health and mental health; I also consider what EAs should do next;
  • The new policies represented a crucial break with the other two major political parties, shattering the tripartite consensus on drug policy that had hitherto quietly existed;
  • Within less than a year, however, the figure plummeted to less than 10 percent, as the media lost interest.

I consider this result very surprising. We started collaborating on this before work commitments dragged him elsewhere.

He wrote section 2. Many of the ideas are his. The motivation for this unusual move is to make the topic more readable and to keep the discussion of the different parts of the problem into separate places. Here are the lengths and contents of the four parts: I make the case for DPR, explain why it might do a lot of good and anticipate objections. Part 3 3,000 words: Part 4 3,500 words: I provide some simplistic but illustrative cost-effectiveness estimates comparing an imaginary campaign for DPR against current interventions for poverty, physical health and mental health; I also consider what EAs should do next.

A commentator below suggested this was still too big and we should split this four ways; Lee and I agreed, so we've moved part 2 into a another forum post.

Summary All around the world, governments restrict access to psychoactive drugs, drugs that change how you think or feel, because they deem them unsafe to the public. These are the sorts of things your parents probably told you to stay away from when you were growing up: LSD, magic mushrooms, cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy and so on.

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This rules out things like antibiotics not psychoactive and alcohol and caffeine not typically illegal. The first comes from the fact these bans are at least somewhat successful in restricting access to drugs. They make it harder for people to use drugs for medical or recreational purposes or to conduct research into their impact. The second surround the efforts required to enforce these bans.

Many currently illegal drugs, such as LSD and magic mushrooms, have shown great promise for treating mental health conditions in recent small-scale trials.

  • Although Bill Clinton advocated for treatment instead of incarceration during his 1992 presidential campaign, after his first few months in the White House he reverted to the drug war strategies of his Republican predecessors by continuing to escalate the drug war;
  • In 1985, the proportion of Americans polled who saw drug abuse as the nation's "number one problem" was just 2-6 percent;
  • Such a point of contention, as both sides of the debate are acutely aware, can be rejuvenated almost indefinitely by the shifting application of various contradictory statistics;
  • The Drug Policy Alliance and its allies will continue to advocate for health-based reforms such as marijuana legalization, drug decriminalization, safe consumption sites, naloxone access, bail reform, and more;
  • In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legally regulate marijuana.

The ability to conduct research or provide these to patients is greatly restricted by drug policies. Many people in physical pain and often dying from terminal illnesses lack access to effective pain relief, such as morphine, again because governments restrict access.

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This is primarily a problem in the developing, rather than developed, world. Perversely, prohibition may cause more harm by pushing people towards more harmful drugs. Reducing crime, violence, corruption and instability.

The drug trade can destabilise entire drug-producing countries e. In drug-consuming countries it creates a demand for criminal gangs to distribute drugs, turns recreational users into criminals, leads individual addicts to engage in petty crime e. Raising revenue for governments. Governments around the world spend billions unsuccessfully fighting the war on drugs, both at home and abroad.

If they stopped, they would save money. If they legalised some drugs and taxed them, governments would have much more money to spend on other policies. Many people unproblematically consume alcohol, a legal recreational drug, and think it improves their enjoyment of life. As we can see, there are several different ways drug reform might do considerable good.

  • The Runciman report sums up this aim;
  • More interesting, perhaps, is the admission that the policymakers themselves are pursuing these costly policies with no clarity of belief as to their effect;
  • He wrote section 2;
  • More interesting was the recommendation that 'the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways-including the possibility of legalisation and regulation-to tackle the global drugs dilemma.

Those who wish to claim we should maintain the status quo approach have a considerable task. For those who think DPR is promising, there is still a very open question about what the best policies would be.

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For those what want some concrete suggestions to chew on, my current, tentative view is we should: In terms of neglectedness and tractability, I think this is highly neglected, both within effective altruism and the world as a whole. In contrast, tractability is up for debate. Attitudes towards drugs are changing: There are still open questions on whether the best thing to do would be to fund a public advocacy group e.

I assume DPR would be of most interest to EAs who focus on benefiting humans alive today and therefore support poverty and physical health interventions e. Those with different assumptions will reach alternative conclusions and I encourage others to run their own numbers. Policy Suggestions, Tractability and Neglectedess.