This Man Wants to Legalize Drugs
Glenn Loury is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University. He is one of the nation's foremost black intellectuals, having held positions at Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Boston University.
Loury's sometimes controversial dissection of racial disparities, systemic racism, and economic justice have often landed his views at the center of attention. Early in his professorial career, Loury made his mark as a distinguished academic economist with specific focus on the fields of welfare economics, industrial organization, natural resource economics, and the economics of income distribution. Once earmarked as the leading candidate for the position of under secretary of education in the Reagan administration before withdrawing his name from consideration, Loury also gained notoriety as a controversial social critic with right-wing perspectives that led to his designation as "one of the black darlings of the neoconservative intelligentsia" by Africana.com.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Loury became known for his abrasive critique of affirmative action and his propensity to blame racial inequality on the dysfunction and corruption within the black community, as opposed to the racist attitudes that some argued gave rise to this scenario.
In the late 1990s, however, Loury divulged a much-publicized split with the right, revising former viewpoints and attacking former colleagues. This break was formally ushered in with the release of his new book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, in February of 2002.
Question: Should we legalize all drugs?
Glenn Loury: I think I'd decriminalize. I think I would heavily regulate the control. I think I, if you're asking me, and my mouth is no prayer book, but my view is, I'd view addiction to these substances as a medical problem and I would treat it accordingly. What little I know about the history of drug control policy in the United States leaves me thinking that a hugely important moment came when the lawyers win out over the doctors on this matter.
That is to say, when the medical profession basically surrendered, and perhaps they had no choice in the matter, their autonomy to handle the difficult problems of addiction to substances, which is a medical problem, to the anti-drug crusaders, legal crusaders who wanted to make everything against the law and then throw people in prison. Just as we can see in retrospect that criminalizing the consumption of alcohol proves not to be the solution to the very real problem of drunkenness. So to what I want to say is the very real problem of the human susceptibility to addiction isn't best dealt with by building prisons and throwing people into jails.
Recorded on: August 18, 2009
Substance abuse should be viewed as a medical problem, not a crime, says Brown University economist Glenn Loury.