Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"The case for legalising all drugs is unanswerable"

This is the first thing I read today and is probably the best thing I will read today. The title is a challenge. Those who want to keep on with prohibition should state their case as clearly and succinctly. But has anyone ever read such a treatise? Does one exist? It seems to me that prohibition continues largely because changing deep-seated but irrational convictions is just too hard.

A decade or so ago, it could be argued that the evidence was not yet in on drugs. No one has ever believed illegal drug use could be eliminated, but there was a defensible view that prohibition could prevent more harm than it caused. Drug use is not a private act without consequences for others; even when legal, it incurs medical and other costs to society. A society that adopted an attitude of laissez-faire towards the drug habits of its citizens could find itself with higher numbers of users. There could be a risk of social abandonment, with those in poor communities being left to their fates.

These dangers have not disappeared, but the fact is that the costs of drug prohibition now far outweigh any possible benefits the policy may bring. It is time for a radical shift in policy. Full-scale legalisation, with the state intervening chiefly to regulate quality and provide education on the risks of drug use and care for those who have problems with the drugs they use, should now shape the agenda of drug law reform.


Anonymous said...

The drugs available when i was an adventuous adolescent back in the sixties, while enjoyable, were kids stuff compared to the toxic substances available today.

Prohibition has done nothing other than increase the profits for the unscrupluous and dependancy for those with addictive personalities.

Alcohol prohibition back in the 1920's proved to be a failure with exzctly the same social consequences that we have today. Relativly speaking of course. Alcohol has played a major part in last weekends social disorder in the South Island. The system cant control that anymore than it can the drug problem.

The drug culture is firmly in place and aint going anywhere but up. There is no solution which doesnt create more problems.

Lets hope those who survive are stronger for the experience.


Sus said...

"It seems to me that prohibition continues largely because changing deep-seated but irrational convictions is just too hard."

Exactly. Drugs are perceived as a bogey, therefore they must be banned. In other words, doing more of what's not working.

Berry said...

Perhaps, just perhaps, drugs are seen as a means whereby an individual can retreat within his or her own conscience and individuality to use the experience to reflect on, and calibrate individual perceptions with communal and social experiences. In any event, the use/non-use of drugs to achieve this reflective state is a highly individual choice.
Now of course we can't have that, because in our socialist utopia we only have shared experiences and socially and culturally appropriate means of recreation.
Perhaps this is behind the paranoia.

Anonymous said...

1. it is lefty. We should opposite it on principle.

2. It clearly must not apply to certain medical drugs that have population effects. I don't want to die from an antibiotic resistant staph because some jerk took an antibiotics for colds - with not effect except to breed more antibiotic resistance

3. Drug users are well known to be diseased and beneficiaries, and to vote Labour or Green in large numbers. That again alone is enough reason to suppress them. They also drink cigarettes and beer, which cannot be banned but should also be highly taxed

4. Cigars and Cognac are only used by the productive proportion of society. Taxes on this, and perhaps on all wine over $100 per bottle, should be removed.

Anonymous said...

If you legalise drugs, can workplaces still ban them? Can workplaces still have random drug testing and fire employees under the influence?

Drug use costs society.

Why should I, who try to live a healthy lifestyle, have to pay for all those losers who stone themselves to high heaven and completely useless as human beings, a drag on our society?

I'm not talking about the occassional weekend user, but the daily toker, the addict.

How do you regulate a drug that everyone can grown in their backyard or closet?

How do you prevent kids from becoming schizophrenics like my friend, after years of drug use?

No, the current strategy is not working, but how do you regulate drug use? How do you prevent the harm they do?

It's unfair that those who choose to live a healthy life have to work their arses off to pay for the treatment and rehab of the inevitable increase in addicts.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

I agree Roger.

But some of that unfairness is the welfare state which now subsidises drug abuse and addiction.

Workplaces should be allowed to ban drugs if they want to. They ban alcohol. They ban smoking.

Like others who read this blog I don't think we can stop the harm people do to themselves and others. But we could reduce it.

Anonymous said...

The solution is seperate soft drugs and hard drugs.

The sale of soft drugs (cannabis, mushrooms, party pills) would be restricted to licensed sellers, with strict rules to follow such as R18, no advertising, not near schools, product packaged with contraindications, restrictions on dosage.

The sale of hard drugs (methamphetamine, Heroin, Alcohol) would be restricted to pharmacies or other government outlets in a similar way to the Methadone program we currently have in place.

This would remove the trade from criminal gangs who offer product with low quality control and are very slack at checking the customers ID.

The billions of dollars saved could then be put into unbiased drug education and other social costs.

James said...

Legalise the lot...and end State healthcare.Thats the flipside that legalisation must have if its to be accepted by the taxpaying public.

mawm said...

Legalising all drugs would be akin to setting a bunch of 12yr olds free in a liquor outlet and expecting them not to harm themselves.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately thats what many twelve year olds are doing already.

harming themselves is part of their journey along with unwanted babies and poverty of spirit.


Anonymous said...

Taking drugs may harm you. But then you have to do the taking. The war on drugs clearly harms lots of people, including those who don't take drugs. As bad as drugs are, the war on drugs only makes the problems worse, not better. Portugal decriminalized drugs, stopped arresting people, and made the same resources available to people who wanted help to kick drugs. All the results have been good. End the war on drugs now.

Anonymous said...

Ask the Dutch ?


WorBlux said...

I would have to disagree with the anonymous who said drugs were lefty and should be opposed if for no other reason than that.

Methamphetamine is a very righty drug. Increases focus and productivity, outward aggression and hysteria. First used by soldiers in combat.