Upcoming Talk on the War on Drugs before the Northern Virginia Chapter of NORML

On Thursday, July 11, I will be giving a speech on the politics of the War on Drugs before the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The event is open to the public. The NORML meeting will begin with refreshements at 7:30 PM, and my talk and Q&A will run from 8:30 to 9:30 (people who want to hear the talk need not arrive until about 8 or so, if they cannot come earlier). The meeting will be held in the Burgundy Room at Bailey’s Pub & Grille, 4238 Wilson Blvd., in Arlington, VA.

I will be speaking about the case for legalizing drugs, emphasizing points that are rarely considered in public discourse, but may have special resonance for conservatives and others most likely to oppose legalization. These include the ways in which the War on Drugs undermines family values, impedes our efforts in the War on Terror, threatens constitutional federalism, and endangers property rights. These are far from the only arguments for drug legalization. But they may be particularly important in making the case to potential skeptics, especially those on the political right.

I will also discuss the connections between the War on Drugs and widespread political ignorance, drawing in part on my forthcoming book Democracy and Political Ignorance. Much of the harm caused by the War on Drugs is nonobvious, and many key arguments for legalization are counterintuitive. As a result, rationally ignorant voters are often unaware of both the harm and the arguments in question. I certainly don’t claim that increasing political knowledge would make everyone a legalization advocate. But, on average, it tends to make people more sympathetic to legalization than they would be otherwise. The end of the talk will discuss how recent changes in public and elite opinion create unprecedented opportunities for legalization advocates.

Coincidentally, I met my wife at an Institute for Humane Studies event at Bailey’s almost five years ago. I almost decided not to go that party, but changed my mind at the last minute. I can’t promise that you will be equally fortunate if you come to the NORML event. But you’ll never know unless you show up!

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