The War on Drugs has got to end: Ethan Nadelmann speaks at TEDGlobal 2014

We need to stop wasting money and holding up medical research.

TED Blog

Ethan Nadelmann speaking at TEDGlobal 2014. Ethan Nadelmann speaking at TEDGlobal 2014. Photo: James Duncan Davidson/TED

“What has the War on Drugs done in the world?” asks Ethan Nadelmann, the founder of the Drug Policy Alliance. He namechecks just a few of its results: cartel violence in Central America, a ballooning global black market, packed prisons throughout the United States. “It’s like it’s my country’s history with alcohol prohibition and Al Capone times 50,” he says, beginning a blistering talk. “Think of it as the international projection of a national psychosis.”

Historically, the United States has often sought to quash usage of substances, with unfortunate results. This is because doing so just might not be possible. “There has probably never been a drug-free society. Virtually every society has used drugs,” says Nadelmann. “Our desire to alter our state of consciousness may be as fundamental as our desire for food, water and sex … The true challenge is to learn to…

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