Before I say a word, I must declare a ‘non-interest’; I have never had so much as a ‘puff’ of weed or any other illegal substance. I am not ‘pro-drugs’, I am anti-governmental interference in its citizens private lives on principle, and particularly when it doesn’t work and costs us all a fortune.
The fact that someone takes illegal drugs affects me not one jot, any more than homosexuality; the fight against illegal drugs does affect me, both financially and with regard to my personal safety.
In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalise drugs, including cocaine and heroin, a distinction which is still true today.
Some predicted disastrous results—that drug addiction rates would soar and the country would become a haven for “drug tourists.”
The Cato Institute will be hosting a debate live on-line on April 3nd at 12pm where attorney and author Glenn Greenwald will present a paper which closely examines the Portuguese experiment and concludes that the doomsayers were wrong.
Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria has joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to try to change the debate on drugs in Latin America, where trafficking gangs have killed tens of thousands of people and weakened democracies through corruption.
A United Nations meeting in Vienna this week will frame international drugs policy for the next 10 years, and the three former presidents, whose group is called the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, said it is time for change.
In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.
They were patently empty promises. Politicians believe that the public like to hear this sort of statement, newspapers like headlines of the ‘finally they are going to do something about it’ variety – but in truth the politicians know they cannot stop the drug trade, nor prevent the people from being ever more inventive in discovering new ways to blot out reality.
What the public would really like is an end to the side of the drug trade that actually affects them. An end to the murderous turf wars that make areas of inner cities no-go areas for normal folk. An end to the high taxation required to imprison the low level dealers that the law seems able to catch.
Am I seriously advocating that people should be able to go to the corner shop and buy cocaine or heroin? Yes…absolutely. How is that worse than going to someone’s house or buying it on the street?
Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated. Governments could use the billions saved on law-enforcement to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction.
The abuse of substances is a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem. Legalising drugs would destroy the power of a burgeoning international and murderous army.
It is time to apply rationality and put emotion aside.
It has been shown time and again that prohibition of any commodity for which there’s demand leads to violence because the market is driven underground. It has relatively little to do with the commodity that is prohibited. It has almost everything to do with the fact that if you make it illegal, people are going to resolve their disputes with violence, not lawyers.
The Distillers, Brewers, and manufacturers of chemical anti-depressants would fight against legalisation for self preservation reasons, as would the Asset Protection Agency fight to protect their right of forfeiture and inflated budgets.
It has been estimated that the drugs trade is, by value, second only to the energy trade (oil, gas and coal). Who makes the profits?
Why do governments not want to legalise drugs despite the overwhelming evidence that legalising is beneficial?
Perhaps because those making the profits don’t want change?
(Puts tin hat on and leaves the building)