The late William F. Buckley Jr. was a renowned political commentator and writer whose conservative views were much admired by right wing proponents of “law and order”, a term referring to harsh criminal law policies including “zero tolerance” in the so-called “war on drugs”.
Many of his fellow conservatives were shocked when Mr. Buckley published a nationally syndicated article advocating the LEGALIZATION of non prescription drugs, including so-called hard drugs, since this point of view is generally seen as part of the left wing liberal philosophy. However, closer analysis of Mr. Buckley’s position reveals a policy grounded in the lessons learned from Prohibition and the social and economic realities underlying the indisputably grave problem of  drug use  in our society.
In a nutshell, Buckley argued that the conservative ideal of freedom of the individual must include the right of individuals to harm themselves as long as the harm doesn’t affect others. Given that the vast sums spent on the enforcement of punitive drug laws, including costs of incarceration, have failed to decrease the availability of drugs or the demand for them, the question arises whether spending these sums instead on education, prevention and rehabilitation within the context of a Government regulated legal supply of drugs would better address the evils associated with the current drug trade. In addition, advocates of this view point to the vast revenues generated by the illicit drug trade which currently inure to the benefit of organized crime. These revenues enable criminal organizations to entrench themselves in society and finance their entry into and  corruption of industry, trade unions and even government. Indeed, few serious commentators question the fact that it was the  profits reaped from trafficking in alcohol during Prohibition in the 1920’s which gave rise to criminal organizations which exist to this day. Mr. Buckley seems to have converted another prominent conservative : none other than the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, present governor of California, who apparently is contemplating the legalization of marijuana as a means of raising the money needed to alleviate his state’s acute budget deficit.
Gambling has recently been taken over by the government and is generating enormous revenues. Which will be next, drugs or prostitution?