March 13, 2014 12:03PM

Progress in De‐​Escalating the War on Drugs

Earlier today, Attorney General Eric Holder asked the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce sentences for a broad range of federal drug crimes. This is a long way from legalization, but it goes in the right direction. More broadly, Holder’s action signals that drug crime will continue to fade as an enforcement priority for the federal government. This makes it easier for state and city governments to scale back enforcement as well.

As long as drug prohibition is on the books, it has potential for great harm. In particular, a new administration can easily reverse the Obama administration’s enforcement priorities.

But the harm from prohibition increases with the level of enforcement, so any de‐​escalation is welcome. And perhaps political realities dicate that gradualism is the way to eventually eliminate prohibition entirely.