Drug reform is so hot right now. After years of the mess of overfull prisons, violence in Mexico, and battles over immigration that don't quite connect with the socioeconomic problems of the countries of origin, drug reform is in again. At least, among liberals it is.
First some required reading: "We Bring Fear" by Mexico journalist Charles Bowden, "The Patriot's Guide to Legalization" by Kevin Drum, "The Last Drug Czar" for the policy angle by Eli Sanders, and This Is Your Country on Drugs by Ryan Grimm (which admittedly I haven't read yet, but hear its very good). Finally, liberals, satisfied that the country is more-or-less (lately it seems more like less) on the right track politically, are turning to the under-discussed issue of what to do about the mess that is our drug policy in this country.
In every sense of the word, our drug policy is incomprehensible. This is, in large part because we haven't had a serious conversation in the public sphere about what we want our drug policy to be. It's clear that zero drug use isn't a realistic policy. It's also seriously unpopular to propose any kind of solution other than "more crackdowns" in the public sphere.
Slowly, though, states like California are beginning to experiment with decriminalization, which is pretty much the equivalent of looking the other way on recreational drug use. As Sanders wrote, these state policies are going to be what the federal government will look to if it ever decides to seriously consider revamping its drug policy. Let's hope the states can come up with a workable solution; one is long overdue.