Substance abuse should be viewed as a medical problem, not a crime, says Brown University economist Glenn Loury.
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