The (War on) Drugs Don't Work
Sometimes you have to face up to unpalatable truths. Sometimes you have to learn from history. Sometimes you've got to get your head out of the sand and ask questions about why things have to be a certain way.
Before I start I'll get my history of drugs out of the way. Starting with the illegal ones I've tried marijuana about 5 or 6 times. Only once have I smoked a serious amount and the affect it had on me was underwhelming. It just made me sleepy. And that is my entire history of illicit substances. Alcohol on the other hand is something I've abused to a certain extent for many years. I've never been an alchoholic but I did go through a stage when I was more dependent on it than I should have been but fortunately the love of a good woman saw me shake that particular monkey off my back.
So when it comes to illegal drugs I have no hidden agenda with regard to my own use. I have no interest in any of these substances and have no intention to use them in a recreational way (I'm not saying there will never be a medical need).
So lets stop beating about the bush. I think the time has come for the world to get down off its high horse and remove its head from its collective backside and legalise all the drugs that are currently illegal. Not turn a blind eye; Not decriminalise; not selectively legalise some substances. Just get it over with and get over it.
The War on Drugs is not a war that can be won. We've been here before with the Prohibition of Alcohol in the States. And I don't want to hear your nonsense about going the whole hog and legalising rape, murder and theft while we are at it. People who take drugs are inflicting damage to themselves not other people. There is no comparison between taking heroin and taking a life.
When are people going to realise that they have no right to tell people what they can and can't do with their own lives and their own bodies? I don't like people listening to heavy metal and watching Cash in the Attic but I don't feel the need to make it illegal.
The cost of this 'war' is too high. The bodies pile up in mounds in Mexico, Afghanistan and Colombia. Police, public servants, politicians and whole governments are corrupted by criminals throughout the world. People are criminalised and thrown into jail for acts that are no worse than drinking ten pints in your local pub.
For what so that Tabloid papers, members of parliment, religous leaders of all shades can take the moral high ground? Well frankly these people who love to lecture everybody else have got feet of clay. Is snorting a line of cocaine worse than hacking into a murdered girl's telephone; is smoking a joint worse than selling dinners with the prime minister to the highest bidder; is mainlining heroin worse than covering up for paedophile priests?
I know that what I'm proposing is no panacea. Legalising drugs isn't an easy option. People will continue to abuse substances and screw their lives up. Listen I live in Wakefield and you only have to look at Westgate on a Friday night to see people out of their heads, losing their dignity and throwing their lives away. And that's just alcohol. Perhaps we could spend some money looking into why people find the need to escape their day to day existence in this way?
And I know that the criminals will find some other way of making money.
And I know that the big corporations will move in and make money out of other people's misery.
But legalisation will take the control out of the hands of the criminals and ensure that people can be given the opportunity to avoid the other problems with drugs - such as quality, hygiene and the danger of hanging about with hardened criminals.
I know there are concerns about children taking drugs; about people taking drugs and then driving cars; about the effect of super strength cannabis (so called skunk). Whilst drugs are illegal all these problems exist already. Once the drugs are legal you have at least a chance to try to do something about them.
Somebody who is licensed to sell drugs is less likely to risk that licence to sell to people underage than a completely unlicensed criminal.
There are tests available to find out if people are on drugs. These can be employed in the same way as breathalysers. Public education also has a part to play in drug taking and driving (just the same as drunk driving or using mobile phones whilst driving).
Finally once cannabis is legal it is possible to define how strong it should be. Sure there will be people who grow their own (just as people still distill their own alcohol) but you can limit the issue by taking control.
There will be plenty of people and organisations who will oppose this for their own interests because they will lose out. The criminals who are currently allowed to run the drugs business obviously but also the people who make money out of the 'war on drugs'. These people have plenty of influence but should be ignored.
What I'm proposing isn't going to make the world radically better. But it will allow us to stop throwing away lives and resources and money on what is pretty much a hopeless cause.