Turning on the lights

Reason, which consistently advocates for decriminalization, posted an op-ed on losing the drug war:

Trying to solve the problem of addiction through incarceration is like trying to get rid of a cockroach infestation by turning on the lights. The temporary solution doesn’t address the underlying problem, which requires treatment. Sometimes locking a user up doesn’t even interrupt his using. Do a Google search on smuggling drugs into prison for an education on that front. If prohibition can’t keep narcotics out of prison cells, it won’t keep them out of playgrounds and office parks.

Decriminalization and treatment—the approach suggested by the international panel—differs from outright legalization, which is often portrayed as heartless indifference to the ravages that addiction can inflict. It is not that, or at least not only that. The moral case for legalization stems from a reverence for individual autonomy—the notion that each of us owns his own body, and none of us has the right to tell another what to do with it. Family and friends might plead with someone to change his ways, but the government has no moral authority to make him.

I often wish these decriminalization advocates placed as much emphasis on treatment as they do on decriminalization. They’d be more persuasive to people like me. On the other hand, a lot of Americans would resent spending money on addicts and might prefer spending money on prisons to providing free or low-cost care to addicts.