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January 2000

Jacob Sullum: In Defense of Drug Use

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

In this lecture from a Libertarian Party of California event in 2000, Sullum goes beyond utilitarian arguments for repealing drug prohibition, saying that the nature of the act itself — using chemicals to alter one’s mental state — does not justify prohibition.

Sullum notes that Americans use other chemical stimulants — alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and a veritable panoply of other legal substances — to similar ends every day. He also points out that most Americans’ perception of drug addiction is misguided; according to many different sources (including the Drug Enforcement Administration itself) the overwhelming majority of recreational drug users are not addicts.

Sullum’s remarks in this video would later be expanded in his 2004 book, Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (