Former DEA head and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance debate

[Video Link] I enjoyed this excerpt of a debate between Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and Asa Hutchinson, former DEA Administrator. The debate was sponsored by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter at the University of Arkansas and University Programs. The DEA's Hutchinson concern seems to be about scaring and busting as many people as possible, while DPA's Nadelmann's is focused on reducing harm to as many people as possible.

Here's the full one hour video.



  1. I almost can’t watch this, I get too furious when hearing pro-prohibition folk splatter their idiotic emotional drivel. also, what’s with the ‘send a message bs’? The message certainly isn’t having much of an effect, unless the real message is “if we bust you doing drugs other than Alcohol, we will do everything within our power to ruin your life beyond how it may be ruined already”. What a society!

  2. Sigh.  How many times have we heard this debate?  I think that educating the public about the real effects/futility of the drug war is the only way to stop this issue being used by politicians as a vote-winner at the expense of sane drug policies.  And to stop the media using crazed, inaccurate drug reporting to sell papers and influence voters.
    Watched a brilliant 3-part documentary about this issue on Channel 4’s 4od site recently and it opened my eyes.  Probably not available outside the UK unless you have access to a UK proxy server or can find it on another video site.  It’s called Our Drugs War, by Angus McQueen.  Seriously though, it’s super-enlightening, and well worth seeking out.  For example – until I watched it I didn’t know that over the years, the UK’s government has only managed to take up to 1 percent of the nation’s drugs out of circulation through their activities.  I imagine the statistics are pretty much the same across the board in countries that take a similar approach to the problem.  It’s a really interesting, broad-reaching documentary, covering these issues in the UK, US and Afghanistan.

  3. Well, to be fair, Enforcement IS the DEA’s middle name.

    You don’t argue with a government agency, you reform it.  Debating them only gives them warning.

  4. There have been a few intellectually consistent conservatives, like William F Buckley, who were against this so-called war on private behavior. But for the most part it has been driven by the right, who have been happy to expand the power of the government in this arena. And the same right wing which decries the governmental waste of taxpayers money, are more than happy to support this particular version of massive waste of resources, personal liberty, and human potential. How much longer before this particular waste of effort is ended?

    1. Nonsense.  Clinton was 100% behind extending the drug war as most Democratic politicians have been.  This isn’t driven by the right wing.  It’s driven by the stupid wing which is apparently the vast majority of politicians.

      1. Yes, it has been driven by many politicians of all stripes. But what made it necessary for them to climb on the bandwagon was the constant “law and order” pressure from the right which made it political suicide to be seen as soft on drugs. It is the same reason many Democrats voted to give Bush, Jr authority for war. They were afraid to be branded as weak and too willing to appease the “evildoers”.

        It is also the same reason we are among the world leaders in incarceration rates.   

        1. > But what made it necessary for them to climb on the bandwagon was the
          constant “law and order” pressure from the right which made it political
          suicide to be seen as soft on drugs.

          But why is it that the left always has to capitulate to the right, even when it’s deeply unpopular with its support base?  Answer that one and maybe we’ll be getting somewhere.

          1. 1) Unthinking people are more easily motivated and manipulated by fear. Rationality is in short supply.
            2) Easy answers are a manipulators dream.
            3) Democrats are generally pussies and less inclined to be dogmatic and forceful.
            4) It makes one feel powerful to say no. And the right is good at it.
            5) Politics is largely driven by perception rather than reality. At least in the US.

  5. Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
    My pursuit of happiness just happens to include relieving spinal pain with a little plant.  The PILLS they gave me instead were basically heroin and I opted for a natural solution.  NOW IM A CRIMINAL AND I COULDNT CARE LESS.  Brilliant.  Maybe the slogan should go like this/
    MARIJUANA PROHIBITION-Arresting Good Honest Citizens for 75 years!

  6. Not “among the world leaders”.  THE world leader, vastly outstripping the next in line, Russia.

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