Comment by Mark Kleiman

 How do you know? I think that if we made cocaine legal on the same terms as
 we now make alcohol legal, we would have a cocaine problem about as bad as
 our current alcohol problem. That’s a lot of suffering. Maybe I’m wrong
 about that, but maybe not.

 On the point of the suffering caused by the current laws and the way
 they’re carried out, I believe that I’m as familiar with it as anyone.
 That’s the reason I have spent full time for the last fifteen years working
 for policies that would cause less suffering. Some of them you, and the
 others in this debate, might like; others, you might dislike. (The notion
 that the current set of policies are “my” policies is slightly goofy.)

 But isn’t it time we started talking about details, rather than discussing
 “prohibition” in the abstract, as if it were a candidate we could vote for
 or against?

 Let me propose a topic for John, and anyone else who wants to join in:
 What specific policies would you put in place to limit the personal and
 social damage done by alcohol and nicotine?

 I would offer the following:

 For nicotine:

 Near term:

 High taxes (an additional 25 cents per pack, each year for the next ten
 years)
 Heavy negative advertising
 Mandatory coverage of cigarette cessation treatment (including the patch)
 under private and public health insurance

 Long term:

 A ban on the commercial sale of tobacco in the form of cigarettes, except
 by mail-order to current users over the age of 16.

 Other forms of tobacco (snuff, chaw, pipe, tobacco, cigars) to remain
 available on current terms.

 For alcohol:

 Near term:

 High taxation ($1/drink, as opposed to the current 10 cents)
 Heavy negative advertising
 Mandatory abstinence from alcohol for those convicted of alcohol-related
 violence, enforced by the “sweat patch” or by an in-home breathalyzer.
 Elimination of age restrictions.

 Long term:

 Require that everyone buying alcohol show a user’s permit (which could
 simply be the existing driver’s license). This permit could be revoked for
 drunk driving or drunken assault, or voluntarily surrendered (and exchanged
 for a driving-only permit) by those in need of external help in controlling
 their drinking, or those wishing to take advantage of non-drinker’s
 discounts on auto, life, and health insurance.

 Some sort of limit on total alcohol purchases by any individual in the
 course of a month, to prevent massive reselling.

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