William Bennett claims that drug legalization won't slow abuse. He points out that prescription drug deaths are on the rise:
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy,prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem. In 2007, there were 28,000 deaths from prescription drug overdoses. This is five times higher than the number in 1990. More people die in Americaevery year from prescription drug abuse (i.e., legal and available drugs) than from heroin and cocaine combined.
Neill Franklin and Katharine Celentano counter:
It doesn't matter if you're hooked on alcohol, Xanax or illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine — prohibition for some drugs stigmatizes all people struggling with addiction. Period. Addicts are not defined simply by their drug of choice nor the drug that is or is not their ultimate cause of death. Their entire lives are tragically plagued by the stigma that criminalization heaps upon them, and the marginalized underworld prohibition thrusts them into. That is a painful and deadly component of the experience of anyone unlucky enough to live with a disease that, unlike cancer, our government tries to battle with handcuffs.
Pete Guither agrees that the drug war is making treatment harder:
A responsible system of regulated legalization of drugs, with different regulations for different drug harms, would leave the responsible users alone, reduce the harm to all, and free up the system to focus on helping abusers before they die.
The Economist hopes for more treatment and less incarceration of addicts.