Glenn Greenwald. However, decriminaliza-
tion of possession alone wouldn't go very far
to reduce societal costs in the United States.
Of the half million people in prison for drug
offenses at any one time, a vast majority are
drug sellers. The center-city street markets,
overdose rates and conflict among dealers
would all continue unabated. Colombia and
Mexico would still be racked by drug-related
corruption and violence.
tion of hard drugs is risky because we don't
know how many addicts would be created,
while decriminalization would not constitute
ference. Is there anything that can be done to
make prohibition less harmful without alter-
ing the legal status of drugs?
which have grown more than tenfold that's
right, tenfold since 1980. Sweden, often held
out as the tough boy of European drug en-
forcement, imprisons one-quarter as many
drug offenders per capita. A sentence of two
years, the median sentence in the United States
for drug crimes, is the upper limit in Sweden.
drug offenders in prison rather than 500,000?
tion rates would hardly constitute going soft
on drugs: the regime would still be a lot
tougher than the one in force in the Reagan
years. Furthermore, keeping fewer drug of-
fenders in the slammer need not mean that a
minority who are especially violent or other-
wise dangerous would get out earlier. Indeed,
with less pressure on prison space, they might