The drugs issue, re-re-re-revisited.
Preface: This thread was inspired by a conversation I had today at work with three colleagues. I won’t go into the specifics of the conversation but the gist of it was that drugs, all drugs, are a scourge on society in general and must be purged if there is any hope for social regeneration. I disagreed. They give me funny looks in the corridor now. Anyway, it got me to thinking whether my views on drugs are way, way off or whether they were just being intolerant of my viewpoint. I thought I’d let the teeming millions decide.
I am for the eventual legalisation and legislation of all drugs. There are many reasons why I feel this and I am going to focus on different drugs and different sorts of drugs separately.
In this argument I am going to be citing some drug laws and classifications. As I’m a limey, these are British Laws and classifications. As far as I know they do not differ radically from American Laws and classifications (if at all). However I would appreciate it if someone with more knowledge of American drug laws would step in and apply any corrections if needed. Thanks.
Firstly, just for the sake of easy reference illegal drugs can be divided up into the following categories:
Class A: cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, methadone, LSD, ‘prepared’ magic mushrooms, and amphetamines prepared for injection. - Posession of the drugs in this category carries a substantial penalty of up to life imprisonment if you are found guilty of intending to supply the drugs to others.
Class B: amphetamines, cannabis and barbiturates. - Posession of these drugs carries sentences of up to 5 years in prison for simple posession and 14 years for intent to supply & distribute.
Class C: anabolic steroids and tranquillisers. - It is not illegal to posess steroids but if you’re found guilty of supply you can get up to 5 years in prison.
My views on soft drugs differ from hard drugs so I’ll explain them separately.
Class C drugs should be made legal. It is already legal to posess steroids as long as you don’t sell them on so giving them a designation and spending police time & resources punishing people who sell class C drugs seems like a waste of time to me. It’s like saying a football player in posession of the ball cannot be tackled but if he passes it to someone else he can be fouled. If posession is legal then penalising unauthorised distribution seems like a moot point to me.
Class B drugs should also be made legal. Take Cannabis for example. The reasons for legalising that are manifold
[li]It is a very effective painkiller and is far cheaper than other painkillers. It could save hospitals a lot of money and in England where there is no health insurance and medical care is provided by a 3rd rate NHS service constantly fighting bankruptcy using it as a painkiller would free up funds for other areas. Check out this article → US: Study Finds Medical Benefits In Marijuana more information.
[li]As a recreational drug it is no more harmful than alcohol. you are far, far less likely to overdose on Cannabis than you are on alcohol, for example. As far as I know there has never been a single instance of reported death that was directly caused by cannabis. It is also a stronger relaxant than alcohol and as such people high on cannabis are far less inclined to get into fights and vandalise private and public property. A bit of anecdotal evidence which seems to support this is during the Euro2000 football tournament, the games were to be played in Holland and Belgium with each country taking about half the games. In Belgium there was extensive fighting between rival fans. People were arrested and hospitalised private property was destroyed. In Holland there was none, even though the vandals were just as prevalent in Holland as they were in Belgium. The difference? The Belgian riots were started by alcohol fuelled thugs. In Holland many of the thugs were smoking cannabis instead. They were far more placid.[/li]
[li]If cannabis were to be legalised it would be extensively taxed. This tax would generate more money for public services.[/li]
[li]If cannabis were legalised the thrill which young people get from smoking it while it is illegal would evaporate. As such younger teens would be subject to less peer pressure to try it and the average age of first time cannabis smokes would probably increase. Older smokers would know more facts about drugs than younger smokers.[/li]
[li]If cannabis were legalised then young people would be less likely to come into contact with street dealers who could get them hooked on harder drugs.[/li]Cannabis should be legalised and legislated so that people can take it without fear of prosecution and be free to buy it from licensed hash bars risk free. This would also have the added bonus of putting the vast majority of street dealers out of business.
Class A drugs, however are another matter. This site
has a lot of good information about heroin, cocaine, amphetamines etc… and how addictive it can be. I am also in favour of legalisation for these drugs but until they are legalised I am going to support punishment for people who deal in them. If the drugs are legalised and they can be provided to people safely then the risk would drop as street dealers went bust. Once people have the means to get drugs safely from licensed, government checked, proprietors then I cannot see what is wrong with providing drugs to those who want them for their own personal use. Those drugs, once legalised, will be a lot safer for the majority of users. I think we can all agree on that as the product would be control checked by legalised proprieters.
I also think it’s safe to say that legalisation of hard drugs will put drug street dealers out of business.
At the moment there are street dealers getting schoolchildren addicted to hard drugs before they reach their teens. The number of young children who[ul]
[li]Don’t know the facts about heroin and how addictive it is.[/li]
[li]Can be bullied into taking heroin by older dealers.[/li]
[li]Are under far more peer pressure than, say, a 30 year old first time user.[/li]
[li]Don’t know enough about diseases which can be transmitted through the blood and[/li]therefore think drugs like Heroin are safe.
You can find the entire publication here
Basically I feel that until hard drugs have been legalised the probability of them getting into the hands of those who are not knowledgeable enough to make an informed decision is too great to be ignored. The statistics I’ve cited bear this out and demonstrate that addiction amongst younger people is increasing inexorably.
Of course there are plenty of reasons for this, not every dealer who has sold to a kid has forced the kid to buy the drugs. However the bottom line is, whatever has persuaded the kid to try heroin/cocaine/meth etc… for the first time, he has had to approach a street dealer to get his hands on the product. What else can we do but prohibit against the sale of class A drugs? How else can we enforce this than by punishing street dealers?
That is why I support legalisation of Class A drugs as well as Class B & C. Current measures against them are just not working. Once they are legalised and a system set in place whereby people can easily reach informed literature on class A drugs and responsible citizens who still want to use the drugs can do so legitimately the street dealers will go out of business within a couple of years.
Since manufacturers of the drug would probably earn more money by going along with legalisation and going legit the street dealers would have their supply lines cut off so they couldn’t sell to children. We would have a situation where in control adults could choose whether or not they wanted to get high, children would have far less chance of coming into contact with class A drugs and people would be able to get their hands on factual drug literature (as opposed to loaded propaganda) far easier. Problem, well if not quite solved, then on the way there.
So, those are my ideas and proposals on the legalisation and legislation of drugs. Debate at your leisure.