There’s been a lot of support for legalising drugs, but the newest voices in the debate are a bit more credible than your Facebook friend who’s just come back from Download; the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health both agree that possession of all drugs should be decriminalised and treated like a health issue and 5 year-olds educated about them.
You can already hear that roar of disapproval bubbling over the horizon as tabloid readers decry these “RADICAL and BARMY plans thought up by public health boffins,” making sure we know that there was none of this crystal meth stuff back in their day and the only drugs they took were the ones matron gave them.
But if drug users think the days of buying weed from a proper shop instead of the “woke” ex-hippie at the end of the road are here, they need to think again. Dealers and producers will still be prosecuted for a criminal offence, the plans just mean users will be referred for treatment rather than charged and sentenced to prison for “misuse of drugs” – a phrase that makes you wonder what exactly the “proper use” of drugs is supposed to be if they’re not for getting high.
The plans could be a good first step away from current drug policy, where we stick drug users in an environment full of criminals, let them out with a criminal record that prevents them from getting a normal job and then wonder why they haven’t turned their lives around.
However, it doesn’t address the violence and the criminal black market around the drugs trade. Due to its illegality drug producers aren’t under any regulation, meaning users are at risk of ingesting added harmful cutting agents.
Additionally, would cartels like the Zetas be anywhere near as big if you could get drugs from a legitimate source? Prohibition saw trilby-wearing tommy gun toting gangsters warring with the FBI, but the smuggling operations and speakeasies disappeared once you could get it from the store again. Legalising drugs removes another revenue stream from organised crime.
There’s also an economic benefit; at the moment the government wastes millions waging war against all drugs, but it could recoup a lot of that money through taxing drugs to hell and back just like with smoking. The population are allowed to decide what to ingest when it comes to alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine, yet when it comes to other substances they have to be arrested to protect them from themselves.
What do you think? Should drugs be legalised across the board?