Yo, Mr White – Should Drugs Be Legalised?

OT Genesis claims that he’s “in love with the Coco” – but it’s not just him, many people are, and it’s not just coco. Long has it been since the ‘hippy’ movement of the 60s and 70s which emerged as a counterculture movement rejecting the mores of mainstream American life, but the question of drug legalisation has been a roller-coaster throughout the ages. Is it really a case of share the love, man?

In 1961 the world embarked on a US-led act of punitive enforcement when it attempted to eradicate the recreational use of specific drugs as a global threat. Yet after over half a century of global prohibition drugs are cheaper, more available and widely used. Organised criminals and unregulated dealers dominate the illegal marketplace, undermining public health and human rights; fuelling crime, corruption and conflict.

Prohibition clearly does not work for the vast majority of the world’s citizens. You would think maybe the US would have learnt from their attempts at alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, people always find around the obstacle – in this case it was southern moonshining – yeehawww!

To restructure policy in favour of the masses, the solution is to explore responsible legal regulation. Policy makers have used prohibition as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the social and economic factors that lead to recreational drug-use. Poverty and emotional distress are at the root of the cause; only by addressing these underlying factors can we hope to significantly decrease the issues.

The market for drugs is demand-led. Narcotics are encapsulated in our society, encompassed in music, television and film. Making the production, supply and use of some drugs illegal creates a vacuum into which organised crime moves and illegality increases the product price. Legalisation would starve organised crime from the drugs trade; enabling us to control the market. No longer would we need to say hello to Tony Montana’s little friend.

The expense means that some dependent users resort to stealing to raise funds; accounting for 50% of UK property crime, not to mention any gang crime that occurs because of the narcotics. Although with Heisenberg’s death, maybe there will be a reduction as no one will be breaking as bad.

Prohibition has led to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of drug users. Countries that operate this harsh regime experience high rates of HIV infection. In the UK in the 1980s, clean needles for injecting users were made available in response to fears of HIV. Harm reduction policies are in direct opposition to prohibitionist laws.

But being unhappy with the drug abuse in society is not, in itself, a reason to legalise drugs. Arguments show that legalisation would make the problem worse; normalising use among kids, and relegating its sale to profit-hungry corporations or governments with every incentive to increase addiction for profit – the harsh reality of the world. Legalisation would significantly cheapen the price of drugs, making them more accessible and therefore increasing addiction.

The supposed reduction of the violent and the disposal of the underground market may not necessarily materialise. As governments regulate policies concerning drugs, such as the introduction of age limits, the illicit economy would be happy to fill the lacuna.

Rather than legalise, there are calls for investment in more strategies such as drug treatment, specialised drug treatment courts, better drug prevention, smart enforcement; all promoting alternative development.

Above all, no one needs to mention the adverse effects of some drugs, all you need to do is watch the Inbetweeners episode where eating marijuana has Will constantly asking for his Mummy, or failing that, an ambulance, because it seems like he’s in a bubble. So if your friend is ever taking drugs in support of legalisation remember that – mummy, or ambulance.

 

By Dre Efthymiou

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