Policy regarding drugs, both legal and illegal and explicitly including alcohol, poses some of the most prominent and perplexing issues facing modern societies. For nearly a century, the United States has been an active proponent of the punitive prohibition of illicit drugs. Unfortunately, the “War on Drugs” has been largely unsuccessful; prosecution of illegal drug consumption has filled our prisons without significantly reducing crime, decreasing homelessness, preventing overdose deaths, diminishing the spread of HIV or undermining the illegal drug market.
Many now argue that the vision of a “drug-free” America is unrealistic. Other countries are turning to “harm reduction” policies to reduce the societal damage that illegal drug use causes. With cautious optimism, the Drug Policy Program pursues research and open debate on local and national drug policies in hopes of developing pragmatic policies based on common sense, driven by human rights interests, and focused on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with drug use.