William F. Buckley: 'Legalize drugs'


But don't look for Washington to agree

January 24, 1996
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Anthony Collings and wire reports

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The move to legalize drugs in the United States has an unlikely ally.

William F. Buckley, editor of the conservative magazine National Review, believes with illegal drugs so readily available, the war against them has been lost. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound) National Review Buckley would legalize marijuana immediately, then study how far to go legalizing other drugs.

Supporters claim drug legalization will ease burdens on prisons and shift billions of dollars from law enforcement to treatment and anti-drug education. Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke would go a step further: putting government in charge of distributing drugs to addicts.

"I'm interested in bringing peace on the street ... (but) ... the war on drugs is simply bringing more killing rather than less killing. I'd like to take the profit out of distributing drugs at the street level."

An idea whose time has not come

In Washington, both the Clinton administration and Congress believe drug legalization would send the wrong message.

"The president thinks it's time for an offensive in the war on drugs and not a time for surrender," said White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry.

What's really needed is "real tough law enforcement and a zero tolerance type of attitude," Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Florida, said. The National Review is out of touch with reality, according to Thomas Constantine, director of the Drug Enforcement Administration.


"The number one deterrent from people starting to use drugs, believe it or not, is the fear of the sanction of the law." And drug researcher Eric Wish believes legalization would only serve to create "a large number of new users. (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound)

With drug policy a possible issue this election year, few politicians are likely to heed the call of the National Review. As one law enforcement official put it: "The idea of legalization is goofy. It'll never happen."

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