First a short personal background to explain my view on drugs.
I grew up being told that drugs are bad and that one puff on a joint was enough to give you a psychosis or make you an addict. Had my first bottle of wine at 14, then at 16 I tried some pot (thanks to an older girlfriend). Found out that I didn’t get a psychosis, nor did I get addicted. But I did like it and frankly thought it seemed like a better drug than alcohol. Of course this made me question (as in: assume it was lies) the information I’d been given in school and in general by society.
A few years back my position on drugs would have been something like: Cannabis is probably safer than alcohol, but ‘heavy’ drugs like heroin, amphetamine and LSD are really dangerous and should be avoided. And you can die from extacy. The best policy would probably be to legalize cannabis but keep everything else illegal.
Then I read an article in the lancet called Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse, where I found out I was wrong about a lot of stuff. For example, cocaine which I thought wasn’t all that harmful (after all, celebs do it) was actually the most dangerous drug after heroin (I knew heroin was bad). And amphetamine, LSD and extacy is actually less dangerous than alcohol. Big upset, have to change my mind again.
So at this point I am thinking OK, maybe we should look into decriminalizing some recreational drugs other than cannabis, and maybe we should even try to get people to smoke pot or do extacy rather than drink. Especially since alcohol is the largest cause of death for men 15-64 and is involved in pretty much every violent crime. But prohibition needs to be in place against drugs like heroin and cocain at the very least.
And now after reading Schlossers book Reefer Madness I was doing some research and find out that in 2001 Portugal, in response to a growing drug problem took decisive action, and decriminalized the whole shebang. Cite Cite Cite Cite
Shorty summary of Portugals policy and result:
Portugal decriminalized ALL drug usein 2001 (yes, that includes heroin) and started handing out clean needles and supplying care and rehabilitation instead of jailtime. The laws regarding sale and production of narcotics were left unchanged. The narcotics problem was viewed as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue.
The result was a reduction in over dose deaths (about 30%), massive reduction in HIV infections (~75%) and (most surprising) a general decrease in drug use. So less death, less disease AND less drug use. So… is there actually a case against decriminalizing?