Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Amsterdam: Lessons on controlling drugs

Hot off the presses, here's an article I wrote in today's Washington Post Sunday magazine. I talk about the difference in policy and police attitudes toward drugs in Amsterdam and in the U.S.:
In Amsterdam, the red-light district is the oldest and most notorious neighborhood. Two picturesque canals frame countless small pedestrian alleyways lined with legal prostitutes, bars, porn stores and coffee shops. In 2008, I visited the local police station and asked about the neighborhood's problems. I laughed when I heard that dealers of fake drugs were the biggest police issue -- but it's true. If fake-drug dealers are the worst problem in the red-light district, clearly somebody is doing something right.
History provides some lessons. The 21st Amendment ending Prohibition did not force anybody to drink or any city to license saloons. In 1933, after the failure to ban alcohol, the feds simply got out of the game. Today, they should do the same -- and last week the Justice Department took a very small step in the right direction.
Read all about it! The only unfortunate part is they removed the "member of LEAP" part on my bio.


  1. We went to Amsterdam too a few years past and got to talk to police. The police are so far advanced in their thinking that it was difficult to leave. It felt so peaceful, so comfortable to talk to them.
    Why the Washington Post? I've logged on to so many news sites that I'm burned out.

  2. Lea - Why the Washington Post? Only Peter can answer that question. But here is my two cents: the Washington Post is a major left leaning paper in the nation's capital. So it is a great way to ensure that political journalists, senior government employees etc read the piece. Also, they published Moskos's and Franklin's previous op-ed. This op-ed was very well received, and sometimes it's easier to get published again when the editor is already familiar with your work.

  3. It is a very well written article, I would encourage all to read it.

    Also, I am compelled to point out that Alcohol Prohibition has not ended in the the United States 76 years later. One might become overly optimistic of the impact of the D.O.J. statement recently.

    In my opinion it is the worst thing that could have happened. It leaves a murky grey area that will be filled by alternate legal enforcement.

    Much like after, 'don't ask, don't tell was made' was made law in 1993, discharges of gays from the military went UP significantly until 9/11, apparently gay blood is just as red.

    Here is the example most people know;
    Lynchburg, Moore County, Tennessee - Home of Jack Daniel's Sour Mash Whiskey, is DRY.

    To point, Prohibition will not be over in our lifetime.


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