Drug Policy and the Liberal Self

17 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2020 Last revised: 24 Nov 2020

Date Written: November 19, 2020


The philosophical literature on drug policy oscillates between crude utilitarianism and crude libertarianism. I argue for an analysis that recognizes the rights of the majority of drug users who are prudent and responsible, while also recognizing the appropriateness of even paternalistic intervention in the lives of those who have been or may be destroyed by an encounter with drugs. The best justification for drug regulation is the protection of the powers of adult citizens to freely govern themselves – powers that can be destroyed by drug abuse. Given this justification, much of contemporary policy is perverse, because it attacks those who are in no danger of the disintegration that the law fears.

Keywords: Drug policy, Mark Kleiman, Liberalism, John Stuart Mill

JEL Classification: k10, k19, k30, k39

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew M., Drug Policy and the Liberal Self (November 19, 2020). 100 Northwestern University Law Review 279 (2006), Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 20-26, Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 20-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3733763

Andrew M. Koppelman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8431 (Phone)

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