Sunday, 29 June 2008

An argument for the legalisation of all drugs

Whenever this is suggested it generates instant controversy, and most people's gut reaction is to disagree right away, but I think that one of the most vital ways to make life better for people and reduce crime is to legalise all drugs.

Drugs and drug addiction have a horrible and extremely harmful effect on people's lives, and I won't deny that for a second, however their criminalisation of them and the vicious "War on Drugs" being waged worldwide are only exacerbating matters. The continued crackdown on drugs has not done anything to stem the flow, merely given the entire industry over to organised crime, ensured that addicts have extreme difficulty finding help and have to resort to crime to fund their habit, and is tearing the countries where production is centred apart.

In Colombia, the FARC are in bed with the government, corruption is rife, and carnage is an everyday occurence. Poor farmers lose their livelihoods as their crops - drugs or not - are napalmed and destroyed, whilst the drug cartels only grow richer. In Afghanistan, the country'[s economy faces collapse without opium production, and the people are turning to the Taliban that once oppressed them to preserve their livelihoods against the western anti-drugs crusade. On the streets of the UK and US, innocent victims are gunned down by police or gangs on a far too regular basis, families are being torn apart, and criminal gangs grow rich enough to arm their child drug runners.

As well as this, most of the overdoses and deaths that occur from drug use are actually due to poor-quality products cut with all sorts of insane things, such as soap powder.

If we were to legalise drugs and shift production to legitimate producers, the criminal gangs would face the loss of a majority of their income almost overnight, and over time, with gangs unable to afford guns and cars, we would over time see a dramatic reduction in crime. Drugs traders, with their product coming under trading standards regulations, would produce only pure, high quality products that produce less risk of overdose. Addicts, no longer reduced to crime, could feed their habit legally without harming others and find it easier to get help and escape the drugs trap. Drug use would fall, as case studies with cannabis decriminalisation and heroin prescription have shown, and the conflicts in Colombia and Afghanistan, amongst others, will become a lot easier to resolve without drugs and drug money complicating issues.

Criminalisation, crackdowns, "tough" punitive action, and international intervention make the drug problem worse, not better.