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Dear Supporter,

Foreign Policy Cover 90x90I want to share with you an article that is seriously stirring up the drug policy debate around the world. It’s the cover story of Foreign Policy, a highly influential magazine on international affairs with a global readership.

I must admit I have mixed feelings about the provocative words on the cover of the magazine:  “Legalize It.”  Why?  Because I’m not sure that legalization is THE ANSWER to the world’s drug problems.  For marijuana?  Most likely, yes.  But for all drugs?  I just don’t know.

But I do know this:  Global drug prohibition is an extraordinary failure that is responsible for stunning levels of violence, crime, corruption, disease and suffering throughout much of the world.  More and more people, including global leaders, know it.  But few dare speak out and say that this emperor has no clothes.

Why this silence?

It’s because the drug war, and the prohibitionist ideology which fuels it, is not about rational policy, and it’s certainly not about science, compassion, health or human rights.  Rather, it’s become a sort of dogma--a secular fundamentalism that sees itself as immune from critical examination, and that views people like us as heretics.

Legalization may not be THE ANSWER to the world’s drug problems but it most certainly is THE QUESTION that needs to be on the table.  It’s the question that requires people to re-examine the origins of the global drug prohibition regime.  It’s the question that demands critical assessment of the costs, failures and harms of prohibitionist policies.  And it’s the question that requires us to re-think our own worries and fears about ending prohibition. 

Since this article was published a few weeks ago, I have heard from reliable sources that it is stirring up important debates at the highest levels of government in Latin America, Europe and even Asia.  What I hear in the United States is that senior officials can’t wait until this issue is off the newsstands.  The last thing they want is any real debate.

But, sadly for them, the debate keeps getting more real.  FOX News did a surprisingly sympathetic report; John McLaughlin recommended the article this past weekend on his influential TV program, The McLaughlin Group; I’m doing one talk radio interview after another, from local and national NPR affiliates to powerful AM radio shows.  And I am receiving emails from all sorts of people around the world, some of whom are translating the piece and posting it on foreign language websites.  You can also listen to my debate on marijuana decriminalization with Dr. Herbert Kleber, the first deputy drug czar under William Bennett, on NPR’s Justice Talking.

You can help move the debate forward by sending the article link to your local newspaper and asking them to republish the piece, or contacting your local radio stations and urging them to discuss this important issue. You can also distribute hard copies of the article--we’ll send them to you for free from our online store. Let’s keep people talking.


Ethan Nadelmann 


P.S. Please also consider making a donation to the Drug Policy Alliance for the specific purpose of distributing this article as widely as possible.  Ideas DO matter, which is why we need to take advantage of this unusual opportunity to make sure as many people as possible, especially those in positions of influence, read this article. Thank you.

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