Michael Gerson’s predictable, reflexive attack on Rep. Ron Paul in his May 10 op-ed in the WaPo for Paul’s sensible stand in favor of ending the futile crusade called the War on Drugs, makes a curious argument. He asserts that there is a “de facto decriminalization of drugs” in Washington, D.C. Curious, because there are few places in the nation where the drug war is waged more vigorously. Doesn’t seem to be working, does it?
Yet Gerson would expand the effort. Never mind that the social pathologies in the District for which Gerson’s compassionate conservative heart bleeds are mainly a result of making drugs illegal: Turf wars with innocents caught in the crossfire; children quitting school to sell drugs because of the artificially high prices prohibition creates; disrespect for the law due to a massive criminal subculture.
Gerson, one of the chief architects of the disastrous Bush II administration, should step away from his obsessive disdain for libertarianism and consider the nationwide decriminalization of drugs undertaken in Portugal in 2001. Drugs use is down, particularly among young people, and drug-related crimes have dropped precipitously. There is a reason hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets to call for the end to the war on drugs there that is tearing apart the fabric of Mexican society. On top of the social aspects of the drug war dystopia, Cato senior fellow and Harvard economist Jeffery Miron estimates that ending the drug war in the U.S. would save $41.3 billion annually. As usual, Ron Paul has it right.