A few years ago a friend asked me what provoked my advocacy for decriminalizing drugs. He was puzzled by it, as he knew that I wasn't a user of any illegal drugs. I had to think about it for a while, but realized it was the conjunction of these things:
- My increasing awareness over time of the irrationality of many political decisions, resulting in policies that were indefensible on any rational basis. The U.S. drug policy fits quite nicely into that category.
- My reading of history, which led to the (then surprising to me) discovery that for most of U.S. history there were no illegal drugs. We survived anyway.
- My growing circle of friends and colleagues, many of whom I discovered were regular users of illegal drugs (most commonly marijuana, but also including LSD, peyote, cocaine, etc.). My own experiences with these people showed me that the drugs didn't destroy their intellect or their ambition, nor were they addicted any more than I am to Cabernet. On the other hand, I've known several people whose lives were utterly destroyed by their alcoholism.
- My solidifying libertarian position on personal freedom. I take the simple position that personal behavior that does not harm others should not be outlawed. Personal use of so-called “recreational drugs” (including alcohol) usually doesn't harm others – but even when it does, the harmful behavior should be outlawed, not the drug use. For the most part, that is exactly how we regulate alcohol use today.
- My growing understanding of the systemic damage caused by the war on drugs, which I've written about many times before.