An editorial in today's Financial Times urges California voters to pass Proposition 19: "the Golden State should vote to legalise dope." Cliche headline: High time to legalise marijuana.
Proponents of banning drugs make two claims: that bans reduce use, and cut associated social problems, such as violence. Neither is persuasive. Prohibition in the US reduced alcohol consumption only slightly. There is scant evidence that the US’s “war on drugs” has done better. America is not alone: worldwide, there is no correlation between the zeal with which states pursue users and how many drugs their citizens take.
However California votes, marijuana will remain illegal in the US. Nor will Proposition 19 weed out all the social problems caused by narcotics use. But it will make a start at removing a failed policy that exacerbates these ills – an approach which could, if successful, perhaps in time be applied to other drugs. It is time to say yes.
So there you have it, from across the pond.