Thursday, 16 December 2010

At last!

At last - an MP calling for an end to the criminalisation of drugs.

I'm not a supporter of legalisation because I think drugs are great and we should all be taking them; I'm a supporter of legalisation because everything I've seen and read on this subject seems to point to it being the most sensible thing to do if we want to limit the damage drugs wreak on people and society. To my mind it is screamingly obvious that prohibition is ridiculous.

Because it doesn't work.
Trying to stop the supply of drugs into the country is notoriously ineffective. Anyone in this country can get hold of anything they want to get hold of by asking the right people. Surely it's better to put all that time and money into trying to curb demand, regulating an official supply to improve safety, and trying to ameliorate the effects?

Because it's nonsensical

How can you ban a substance because it is potentially harmful but not ban similarly harmful substances? It's a crazy and impossible thing to try and do.

Witness the constant invention of new 'legal highs'; legal because that particular chemical construction has not yet been logged and documented, not any better than illegal substances.

Morphine is an effective and invaluable analgesic in a clinical setting; its close cousin Heroin (invented incidentally to try and cure opium addicts!) is seen as an evil and destructive power. It's not the slight chemical difference that causes this - it's the context.

And what about nicotine and alcohol? - if we have a system based on personal and societal harm we must logically include these, surely.

Because it supports criminals
You make a substance illegal; all those involved in its trade are criminals. Off the radar, unregulated. The demand remains, the trade flourishes despite our intervention; prohibition gives criminals business. Funds people traffickers and gangsters and terrorists and leaves these substances - that people will seek out and take regardless of the law - under the control of the unscrupulous and profit-motivated criminal gangs.

Because it makes criminals
Wouldn't addicts be better treated as patients? For their sakes, for the sakes of those affected by drug-related crime?

Because it is not a useful deterrent
I've heard an argument that if you make drugs legal people will think its fine to take them. Um, well its legal to drink weedkiller and its legal to jump off bridges and its legal to smoke. Does that mean everyone thinks these activities are safe?

I'm not saying legalisation would be a wonderful panacea, and of course I recognise that all the different substances that are illegal would need different strategies and that there are complex issues surrounding how and why and where drugs are taken and it would be an impossible task to devise policies that created good outcomes in every case. But I do think legalisation, regulation and information is the way forward, and I really hope that this guy speaking out leads to sensible debate and maybe some changes.

1 comment:

  1. I *really* hope they get somewhere with that. Legalisation and regulation would be infinitely more sensible that this useless 'war on drugs', in my opinion.