I want to talk about the drug war, making clear what I take to be at stake in it and make a case for decriminalization, legalization, and regulation. It has been over-moralized and under-politicized, so I want to start by talking about politics in general and then talk about the political calculations regarding illegal drugs.
The regulation of human behavior is the core of politics. Any politics worthy of the name commits itself to creating an environment in which people can thrive. Politial debates and struggles revolve around how broadly politics reaches, who thrives and why. The question of reach is important because with regulation comes the possibility of violating that regulation and the need for authorities to deal with those violations. Especially where those violations are defined as a threat to the welfare of the people to whom the politics are committed, i.e., defined as a crime, they must be dealt with firmly. Because that demands resources, what a society chooses to criminalize needs to be carefully considered and its consequences weighed.