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Auburn Economist Mark Thornton: Drug Prohibition Exists for Social Control, Not for Social Betterment


March 1993

Those who support the continued prohibition of currently illicit drugs do so out of a desire for social control, not because they seek to improve society, according to Auburn University economist Mark Thornton (Mark Thornton, Letter to the Editor, "The Destructive Power of Unenforceable Laws," Wall Street Journal, 2/13/93, A15).

Thornton, who has written prolifically in support of legalization, charges that the reasoning of prohibitionists is convoluted and historically invalid. Replying to concerns that legalized drugs would be more dangerous as a result of increased purity, Thornton reminds readers that the cocaine in Coca Cola at the turn of the century was pure but far less potent that adulterated cocaine sold on today's black market. Similarly, he recalls that Bayer once sold a pure heroin pill "that was safe enough to be prescribed for infants on a limited basis."