Two related items in Monday’s News Tribune are worthy of comment: the new concerns regarding the abuse of bath salts and California’s new law creating penalties for selling synthetic cannabis.
If the definition of insanity is making the same error over and over again, then the absurdly named war on drugs is a prime example. The prohibition of adult use of plant and chemical substances has never worked and it never will. And the futile law enforcement effort against these behaviors occasions staggering societal and economic costs, without any possibility of success.
The United States came to grips with this concept with the repeal of the Volstead Act. In terms of deaths and social cost, alcohol is by far the most dangerous commonly used drug, but following bitter years of bloodshed, we came to the conclusion that prohibiting it was simply not practical. Though hardly a perfect solution, the government of decided on a policy of legalization, regulation, taxation and education.
Problems with alcohol will always persist, but we blunder on as best we can. Isn’t it far past time to pursue similar policies with other illicit drugs, especially marijuana?