First, Len Snee’s death is a genuine tragedy. He was just doing his job, and he likely thought his job was just and reasonable. Some have rightly pointed out that Snee is a victim of the war on drugs. There have, however, been few tears shed for the other victim in all this: the gunman Jan Molenaar. If you think that a person should be entitled to consume whatever recreational substances they please, and also trade in those substances, it’s not clear that Molenaar did anything wrong. He certainly did something foolish and possibly downright crazy, but did he do anything wrong?A good question.
Milton Friedman wrote in a Newsweek column of May 1, 1972, "Prohibition and Drugs":
On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.In a piece in the The New York Times, Sunday 11 January 1998 Friedman asked
Can any policy, however high-minded, be moral if it leads to widespread corruption, imprisons so many, has so racist an effect, destroys our inner cities, wreaks havoc on misguided and vulnerable individuals and brings death and destruction to foreign countries?The war on drugs can never be won, the incentives are totally against such an outcome. The more the government succeeds in "stopping" the supply of drugs, the higher it forces the price, and the greater the incentive for dealers to supply more. Criminalisation is the criminals friend. As with alcohol, prohibition will not work, criminalising drug use converts a tragedy for the user into a disaster for society, for both users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is nothing more than a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcohol. And we know that alcohol prohibition didn't work.