Via Pete Guither at Drug WarRant, selections from the late Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman’s 1990 essay to then Drug Czar Bill Bennett:

The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society… Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore.

Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike.

Read the whole essay here. The section about crack never being invented if Nixon hadn’t started the War on Drugs (“it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version”) is both true, and frankly depressing.