WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Breonna Taylor's family and demonstrators continue to demand more transparency surrounding the events that led to her death, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron questions why law enforcement across the country are instructed to take on complicated drug investigations in the first place.
Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville police in March during the execution of a no-knock warrant. No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.
"There’s no reason police should have been breaking down anybody’s door fully armed in a way that is going to scare anybody in any circumstance and cause many people, if they have weapons, to reach for them and try to use them. It just doesn’t happen in a world without a war on drugs," said Miron.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs." In response, the push to decriminalize marijuana became popular among some progressives and some libertarians. Miron's position though, which is in alignment with the Drug Policy Alliance, is arguably more radical.
He thinks all drugs should be legal.
And believes countries like Portugal are executing this well.
"A lot of people will think it’s crazy but I would point out before 1914, all of these substances were legal: heroin, morphine, cocaine, marijuana, etc. And that was true from the founding of the Republic all the way up through 1914 with little minor exceptions of a few state laws. The fear that everybody would become an addict, that it’s crazy to think about legalizing these things, is not born out by the history," said Miron.
According to the DPA, nearly 80 percent of people in federal prison and almost 60 percent of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latino.
"Historically in the U.S., the war on drugs in earlier periods and going back to the 19th century, the war on alcohol, has consistently been aimed at particular minority groups," said Miron.