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Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Drug Legalization Debate,” a thoughtful discussion of the pros and cons, with Chris Meyers, professor of philosophy at George Washington University and author of Drug Legalization—A Philosophical Analysis.
Drugs and drug prohibition affect the lives of millions of people every day—sometimes for the better, more often for the worse. Most people are aware of the potential detrimental effects of illicit drug use, but drug prohibition can be equally detrimental for those whose lives it affects. We live at a time when many American states and cities have liberalized their approach to dealing with addiction and substances such as cannabis, and some are already seeing backlash from critics who argue that the result has been a spike in public drug use and a decline in local quality of life.
Join Professor Chris Meyers, who teaches ethics and political philosophy, for a talk that won’t advocate for a position but will equip you to reach more thoughtful conclusions on your own. He’ll review the many pros and cons of ending drug prohibition, as well as alternative policy considerations, such as harm reduction, selective legalization, and licensed use. He will look to historical lessons as well as empirical evidence to answer important questions about drug use and drug prohibition.
The recent movement toward liberalizing drug laws and drug policies has brought the legalization of marijuana to about half of the U.S., as well as decriminalization of other drugs and more scientific research into the therapeutic uses of schedule-I substances such as MDMA and psilocybin.
Proposals to go further by legalizing the sales of all drugs–including cocaine, meth, PCP, and heroin—seem ludicrously unrealistic, but many scholars in philosophy, law, and economics advocate just that. Libertarians, for example, call for drug legalization as a matter of principle, claiming that drug prohibition violates the basic right to autonomy.
Critics reply that the government has a duty not only to protect fundamental liberties but also to promote the public good, even if that means prohibiting individuals from engaging in unduly risky behavior.
Much of the debate focuses on pragmatic considerations and the question of whether treating recreational drug use as a public-health issue would do more good—or less harm—than treating it as a criminal matter. Would legalization lower crime? Would it save lives by making drug use safer? Or would it lead to more abuse and overdose deaths and greater harm to others linked to drug use, due to rises in traffic fatalities or child neglect? We’ll tackle these questions and others in a talk sure to give a more thoughtful perspective on this issue. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Photo of discarded syringe by Sound Media (Public Domain)