Legalising drugs would be a mistake
Ian Oliver, Scottish Daily Mail,
12th April 2006
LEGALISING drugs would be a
mistake we would all regret for years to come.Drugs
represent a serious and continuing harm and we do future
generations no favours by abdicating our responsibilities to
deal with them sensibly.
Legalising drugs is not the answer and there is no
reasonable argument in favour of making lawful dangerous
substances at great social and economic cost.
Those who favour legalisation argue that the "War on Drugs"
has been lost and to continue it is a waste of resources
that could be used more appropriately.
Superficially, this is an attractive argument but a moment's
consideration will reveal the fallacy in this proposal.
There are several obvious questions to be asked about
Should this include all drugs
including "Crack" and the methamphetamine equivalent
"Ice", which is sweeping out of control in the USA and is
now available in London?
To which age groups and types
of people should they be available?
Who will dispense the drugs
and do they need to be prescribed?
It appears simple for those who
want drugs to be legalised to find evidence' for their
argument. The global retail market for illicit drugs now
exceeds US$320 billion annually; this figure is greater than
the GDPs of nearly 90 per cent of countries. Profits for the
traffickers are enormous and they use them in ways that
impact on the lives of almost everyone without them being
necessarily aware of it.
The adverse global effects are
significant. Drug money funds organised crime and
international terrorism at the same time as drugs cause
major health problems. Between 50 and 70 per cent of UK
domestic crimes are drug related. Europe imports 33 per cent
of the global supply of all drugs and theUK takes a major
share, consequently we have the worst drug problem in
Drug traffickers peddle false
information about drugs to dupe us into believing they are
not really harmful. It is because of these horrifying facts
that many people have been persuaded the only way to deal
with the problem is to legalise drugs. By doing so, they
say, it will take the profit out of crime and put the
traffickers out of business. At a single stroke, so the
argument goes, crime would be eliminated, controlled
use would be achieved and drugs could be taxed so proceeds
could be applied for treatment of drug dependent people.
But those of us in favour of
prohibition point to the huge increase in administrative
costs and the additional drain on the health services
that would accrue as a result of de-regulation of addictive
"mind-altering" substances. Crime will not be reduced and
the costs for the criminal justice system will not diminish.
t is nonsense to pretend
legalising drugs would eradicate the enormously profitable
criminal enterprises that account for between 8-10 per cent
of world trade - tax free.It is also foolish to suggest
individual drug taking would impose no additional harm to
society. It is necessary only to consider the damage that
alcohol and tobacco causes.
Additionally, many modern drugs
are not only mind-altering, they are permanently brain
damaging and can cause problems with the heart and other
major organs.Another serious problem that arises is that
legalising drugs would convince many people that they cannot
be very harmful.It would also increase the availability of
highly dangerous drugs .
Legalisation must not be
contemplated because this would inevitably harm vulnerable
young people. It would also increase dependency and will not
diminish their adverse effects.Medical research continuously
demonstrates the serious dangers associated with drug
use.There is a thriving trade in smuggling alcohol and
tobacco, both of which are legal substances and the
same would apply to drugs.
Organised criminals will always
find a way of undercutting and defeating a legal regime and
their profits will continue.Rather than legalising drugs it
would be better to adopt a continuous and high profile
public health education campaign against their use and to
provide adequate treatment for those affected.The sensible
approach to drugs is to do everything possible to reduce
addiction, not make it more common.