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Professor Theodore Vallance Cites Failure of Drug Prohibition


February 1993

Pennsylvania State University Professor Theodore Vallance, author of Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for Rational and Humane Drug Policy (Praeger), writes critically of the economic and political costs of drug prohibition in a recent editorial (Theodore R. Vallance, "Let's Think About Winding Down the War on Illegal Drugs," Centre Daily Times (State College, Pennsylvania), 1/24/93).

Vallance praised a recent decision by local officials to eliminate a $35,000 drug enforcement position as a step in the right direction. The major costs associated with illicit drugs stem from "the related facts that most mind-and-mood-altering drugs can't be obtained without a prescription and that prescriptions can't be gotten for nearly all forms of cocaine, heroin, or cannabis," wrote Vallance.

He pointed to forfeiture laws, electronic surveillance, and draconian drug sentences as injustices stemming from policies that punish "crimes that are purely consensual," and noted that "the situation can become particularly onerous if the enforcement agency has a direct financial interest in seizing and selling property."