I asked UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, who teaches courses on drug policy, what he thought about all of this, and he sounded a more cautious note.
"If we legalized all drugs," he said, "there'd be smaller illegal profits, less violence among dealers, safer drugs and fewer people behind bars."
"We'd also have vastly more drug addiction and more crimes and accidents due to intoxication," Kleiman added. "There's no magic formula to end the drug problem. Details matter, and not all drugs are alike. I'd like to see cannabis made legally available for use by adults. I don't want to extend that to cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine."
OK, said Downing. Let's start with pot, regulate and control it as we do the wine industry (which would be a vast improvement over the current hodgepodge of medical marijuana laws), study the results, and learn what we can from countries that are decriminalizing other drugs.
"The harm to society is too great," he said, "to keep going as we are."