Whatever your views on the legalisation of drugs, there is something to learn from the debate. So here are a few good arguments in favour.
We have come a long way since the beginning of the War on Drugs. We now know that the majority of things that were said about drugs back then were a lie – simple fear mongering to gain support for prohibition. With the aid of science, have been slowly unravelling this tangled web of deceit. As a result, we are seeing sweeping drug policy reform taking hold of nations across the globe, and even the legalisation of cannabis in some places. The UN is now set to reassess its outdated drug law, and scientists everywhere are challenging our preconceptions about addiction, harm, and the way we treat drug users.
One solution to the harm caused by the War on Drugs, which is seen as radical by some, is to legalise all drugs out there – and we mean ALL of them.
If you decrim/legalize it all, a lot of societal problems that really suck The untrained eye can say “that’s an awful idea, people are going to be overdosing left and right.”
But it’s actually the complete opposite there to. This sort of decriminalization isn’t a totally new idea: it works for the Netherlands and has worked great in Portugal.
There is some very good reasoning behind the idea, with big names backing it up. Even if you do not agree, the below 10 points are meant to act as a way to involve yourself with the legalisation debate, as well as help those who want to develop a deeper understanding of it.
WE WOULD SAVE BILLIONS
It is estimated that the global cost of enforcing the War on Drugs – which is failing – is around $100 billion a year. It is an extreme cost, and could be used so much better within society. Imagine what could be done with that kind of money if it were invested in education or healthcare? You only need to look at Portugal, who have decriminalized all drugs. They have taken the money they spent on enforcing prohibition and instead investing it in education, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users. The result? Plummeting drug use, death from drugs use, crime, and pretty much everything that is negatively associated with it. It has been so successful, that there is hardly anyone in any part of society that wants to go back to the way it was. Legalising all drugs would kill the War on Drugs, and prevent billions going to waste.
THE GREAT MAJORITY OF POLICE RESOURCES WOULD BE FREED UP
Saving money brings us onto our next point. Police would have a lot of their budget and time reallocated to pursue serious crime – something many police officer and citizens want alike. As things stand, police forces over the world dedicate the great majority of their time on hunting down drug users and low-level dealers. If drugs were legal, this wouldn’t be a problem.
THE COURT SYSTEMS WOULD BECOME MUCH MORE EFFICIENT
As another rolling point, the current high level of drug user arrests causes court systems across the globe to grind to a halt – costing time and money. This would no longer be the case.
THE BLACK MARKET WOULD BE CRIPPLED
Could you imagine the black market in a world where drugs can be safely and legally bought and used? It would be severely crippled. Sure it would still be about – for as long as there is something illegal to sell, you can be sure there will be someone to sell it. But drugs will not feature amongst their wares.
The success of this can partly be seen in the US. Even though only a few states have legalised the use of recreational cannabis, the Mexican cartels (the main source of US illicit weed) has taken a monumental hit to their income*.
DRUGS BECOME MUCH SAFER
Arguably the most dangerous thing about taking illicit drugs is that you don’t know what you are taking. They could be cut with anything, and could be doing all kinds of harm to your body. You only need look at ecstasy, which these days is often riddled with brick dust, speed, rat poison, chalk, and all kinds of other fillers – all with the aim of maximising profit for the dealer. Regulated outlets would meet strict and stringent purity requirements, and would ensure users are educated about use.
An argument against this would be that it could increase levels of addiction and overdose. However, the very way we look at addiction could be wrong, and is a hot topic among scientists, who are challenging it. There is strong evidence to suggest that addiction is more to do with the state of our lives than the actual drug itself, and education would vastly reduce this. Once again, we go to Portugal as an example. While things like heroin are not legal, they have been decriminalised. Addiction and overdoses have not increased, rather, through education and support, figures have fallen by almost 50%. This is key, as it shows that when possession and use no longer carry a criminal repercussion, addiction and death do not increase, but instead go down.
IT STOPS THE DECAY OF CIVIL LIBERTY
This is a more conceptual and philosophical point: who are the government to tell us what we can and cannot consume? Sure, if something makes you a danger to state, society of your family, then it is reasonable to control it. But if drugs are used in a safe, harm-free way, without adversely impacting those around you, why should they not be used. Many drugs can and are used safely, on all levels of society – including both illegal and legal drugs. There are many within society, from doctors to street sweepers, who use cocaine and even heroin, yet are able to function quite normally. So why are they illegal when other things like alcohol and nicotine are not?
A great example of this is the Vietnam War. Over 20% of US soldiers sent to fight regularly used heroin, yet upon return to the US, 95% reintegrated without any signs of addiction or a requirement for treatment. Why, because addiction is much more complex than we would believe – and the basic assumption that use causes addiction should not stand in the way of liberty and choice.
IT WOULD STABILISE COUNTRIES INVOLVED IN THE WAR ON DRUGS
Mexico, the Middle East, and South America. They are all victims of the US-led War on Drugs. It is here, in these areas of the world, that much of the West’s illicit drugs are made. As a result, corruption, violence and death are rife. Warlords use drug production to fund their insurgency, while cartels profit off of the misery of others. By destroying the demand for these drugs, the power of those who produce them wanes, allowing stability to take hold, and in turn, improving the lives of those who live there.
Using the example of the cartels in Mexico once again, the legalisation of cannabis in the US is already causing gang related murders to fall in the country – with murder rates being at their lowest in a very long time.
IT WOULD HELP STOP ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION
It is well known that ethnic minorities are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police; the prison population made up of those arrested for drug offences is also disproportionally made up of ethnic minorities. In the UK, a recent report found that while white people use almost double the amount of drugs as black people, black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched. It is a trend that can be seen globally. Eliminating drugs as a criminal offence will halt this injustice, and help prevent the institutional racism that pervades throughout our societies.
PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK
If research, data and frontline experience has taught us anything, the current model of prohibition doesn’t work. It takes everyday people and criminalises them for taking drugs.
The idea is that the threat of incarceration is meant to dissuade people from using, but it doesn’t, and now more people than ever are using drugs deemed illegal by the governments of the world. And instead of protecting users from potential harm and alienation, the ones who are caught are incarcerated, then given a criminal record, making it nearly impossible to find legitimate work or reintegrate into their community. It causes a downward spiral that does much more harm to society than good.
We are pumping billions of dollars into a method that continues to fail time and time again, and remains as inflexible as the day it was conceived.
IT WILL SAVE THOUSANDS OF LIVES
The prohibition of drugs costs many more lives than it saves. Hell, pharmaceutical drugs kill more people than illegal ones. A legal drug market educates and ensures drugs are pure, helping prevent death and addiction. A legal market stops gang violence, cuts off a revenue source for cartels and warlords, and stops the murder and corruption that go with it – currently costing hundreds of thousands of lives. A legal market opens up research into medical potentials, giving patients other options. Surely this on its own is a good enough reason? The amount of life that can be saved in phenomenal – which at the end of the day is most important of all.
We are not naïve enough to think that the legalisation of all drugs would be easy, or without its own set of problems. Nor are we naïve enough to think it will happen anytime soon, if at all. But by looking at the facts in favour, we can help stimulate debate. And if that debate even causes the smallest amount of change for the better, whether it be a change in a nation’s policy, or the way an individual treats a drug user they know, then it has all been worth it.