What Christmas, Terror, Family Values, and Drugs Have in Common

This week's Economist has a series of articles about drug prohibition. Here's the main point from the leader:

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless.

I'd like to think I'm a reasonable guy with empathy percolating out of every pore, but in this case I just don't see how someone concerned with the effects of drug policy could not help but favor liberalization.  There will always be disagreement about how far liberalization should go, but virtually any step in that direction would seem to bring more benefit than cost. Insofar as one is not concerned with outcomes, however, but rather with good intentions or what legal drug use "says" about a society, then I am certainly able to understand one's seeing liberalization as a solution administered through a dark and dirty needle.