Heroin, coke, ketamine, e, cannabis – the whole lot – all of it needs to be decriminalised. Either that or alcohol and tobacco have got to go as well.
To many people that may sound like a bold statement and a radical idea, but it shouldn’t, for we are all familiar with the catastrophic harm caused by alcohol and tobacco. The devastating effects of alcohol are very obvious, so why is it that alcohol is not on the Class A list of controlled substances where it categorically belongs? Criminalising the likes of cannabis and psilocybin is unjustifiable when alcohol remains legal.
It is not only unjustly hypocritical for governments to allow the celebration of alcohol (the most dangerous drug of all) while criminalising the use of other drugs, it is also an attack on the freedom and rights of individuals to do with their own minds and bodies that which they freely want to do. People who believe in freedom – believe in the fight for freedom – should realise that decriminalisation of all drugs is imperative for defining a free society. You cannot have a fully free society if you are not allowed to take drugs. If one is not allowed to take whatever drugs they feel like, then one is perhaps confined to a vicarious dictatorship. Thus a policy of decriminalising drugs is one that values freedom of choice.
Do we, the people, want to be so deeply controlled by governments? Have governments and their civil laws always been imposed with the benevolence of the people as their core reasoning? The answer to both questions is NO! With that said; criminalising drugs was never about the health and well-being of the people. Do not be fooled into thinking that the tyrannical monsters who invented brutal punishments for drug use did so because they care about the people. Research the history. Criminalising drugs has its roots in racism, segregation, class division and military funding, but not benevolence for the people ( https://drugpolicy.org/issues/brief-history-drug-war ).
Do not be fooled into thinking that drug laws are there for your own good or for the good of society. They simply are not. Let’s not forget that (in Ireland for example) state institutions like reformatory schools served not for reform but more for abuse, imprisonment and dehumanisation of vulnerable people. Good little boys that did what they were told – conformed – were spared the horrors of reformatory school. Bold little children, mostly poor, that did not conform were given to the authorities/priests/abusers for years of imprisonment (for their own good and for the good of society). The abuses enabled by reformatory schools are no longer tolerated today, so why are we enabling terrible abuses through our destructive drug laws? Drug laws are not there for your own good or the good of society, they are there so that governments can impose fear, control and conformity.
Here is an article detailing the milestones in the life of a 22 year old drug user from a disadvantaged background in Dublin:
– At age 16 he had two of his fingers forcibly removed. I assume this was over a small drugs debt.
– At a later date he was shot in the head and is now impaired for the rest of his life.
– At another later date he was shot in the abdomen. I assume this was also drugs-related.
– At age 22, he was jailed for 15 months for possesion of a relatively small quantity of cannibas.
I frequently ask myself why do we still attach such an unneccesary degree of brutality, evil and destruction to controlled substances? We wouldn’t tolerate this kind of tragedy being associated with Christmas trees so why do we tolerate it when its attached to cannibas and other controlled substances?
Part of being a grown-up is accepting the truth for what it is. Sometimes we don’t like to hear the truth; it may hurt our feelings or make us feel uncomfortable, yet nevetheless truth is truth, and as grown-ups we must acknowledge it, and only when we acknowledge it can we do something about it.
The truth about drugs (whether you like it or not) is that they are widely consumed. They are used by millions of people all across the world every single day. This is not going to change and drugs are not going to go away. We need to accept this instead of trying to pretend that the demand for drugs will one day go away if we keep unsuccesfully doing the same thing over and over and over again.
Drug addicts are victims. They are victims of the gangsters that control the drugs enterprise. They are victims of their own disease. Most of them are victims of poverty. Victims of broken homes, of financial destitution, of hopeless futures. Victims of discrimination. Victims of the police, of the courts, of society.
Drug addicts are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. For most drug addicts life is miserable enough without being further abused; having your fingers cut off, being shot in the head, shot in the abdomen, thrown into jail, bullied by the police, jailed by the courts, treated without dignity.
No other minority in society is treated with such contempt, such abuse, such brutality, such cruelty, such injustice, such inhumanity. We don’t allow dogs, asylum seekers or Roma gypsies to be treated with such malevolence. Why then do we still allow drug users to suffer such abuse? Why don’t we do something to afford these vulnerable people some dignity instead of supporting a system that perpetuates such mistreatment of our fellow human beings? Why? Decriminalising drugs and treating addiction as an illness, and not a crime, would allow vulnerable drug users a better chance to pursue a dignified life, and it would help militate against the needless brutality, violence and gangsterism of the drugs trade.
By criminalising drugs we are depriving vulnerable drug users of much needed respect and support, and we are enabling violence, gangsters and corruption to run the most lucrative trade in the world.
Prohibition in the drugs trade has been immensely counter-productive. Prohibition has caused more harm than protection; more criminality across the world, more violence, less freedom, more imprisonment, wasted police resources, wasted taxpayers money, more inequality. Prohibition strips vulnerable human beings (drug addicts) of their human rights, and it enriches and empowers the ruthless cartels that run the drugs business. Prohibition – simply put – has been a devastating disaster. It is a failed policy of epic proportions.
As aforementioned there is a sense of hypocrisy in legally celebrating alcohol while criminalising other widely used substances. The hypocrisy becomes ludicrous when one can see that some states have legalised euthanasia quicker than cannabis.
How can a government make it legal for one to ingest a dose of lethal poison while inflicting punishment for possession of recreational drugs? Where is the sense in saying “you can give yourself a lethal injection to kill yourself if that’s what you want to do, but you’re not allowed to take those recreational drugs because they’ll get you high?” It beggars belief to think that an individual could be penalised by the law for treating terminal cancer with cannabis, yet there would be no issue with that same person ingesting a suicidal dose of lethal poison, because in some states that would be legal ( https://end-of-life.qut.edu.au/assisteddying#:~:text=Voluntary%20assisted%20dying%20(VAD)%20is%20legal%20under%20the%20End%2D,%2C%20of%20a%20VAD%20substance%27. ).
There is a counter-argument for every point that’s ever used to support criminalising drugs. Those in favour of criminalising drug use will often say things such as “people who buy illegal drugs have got blood on their hands because they are funding a globally criminal enterprise that thrives on bloodshed and gang violence.” These high and mighty people fail to acknowledge that they themselves are funding child labour and modern slavery when they buy their underwear from sweatshops in Asia. Their arguments are hypocritical.
The truth is in fact that drug users don’t want to go underground to buy their drugs. Drug users don’t want to be criminalised, they want to buy their drugs legally, but they are not allowed to because governments have made the whole industry illegal.
It is in fact governments who have blood on their hands. It is the law that drives the drugs trade underground. The law is foisted upon the people against their will. A referendum on legalising drugs has never been allowed because governments won’t allow it. They won’t allow it, perhaps because they want to continue to drive the drugs trade underground so that they can suppress vulnerable drug users while they empower criminal cartels and squander taxpayers money on unnecessary legal expenses.
“The War on Drugs is a spectacular failure. It is time to end it and begin to have an adult conversation about legalising drugs. If you went out to set up a better way to enrich a violent criminal class, it would be impossible to find a better way. Tax drugs and use the proceeds to help those small amount of recreational drug takers who become addicts. Treat addiction not as a crime but as a health issue.” – David McWilliams; Economist and Author.
Economist David McWilliams presented a podcast titled The War on Drugs has failed, stop it ( https://play.acast.com/s/the-david-mcwilliams-podcast/115-thewarondrugshasfailed-stopit- ). In this podcast McWilliams outlines some of the facts that prove the shortcomings of criminalising drugs. He says that if The War on Drugs was initiated to stem the supply of drugs it has failed terribly because there are now more drugs than ever before; in other words, supply and demand has increased over the years, not declined. Criminal cartels have increased their profits due to prohibition. Police resources, taxpayers money and court systems have been wasted on supporting drug policy that is destructive for society.
In Ireland in 2020 69% of police arrests made for drug offences involved small quantities/personal use. This is a waste of police resources, court systems and taxpayers money, an appalling waste of taxpayers money. It tells us that An Garda Siochana are being paid to make pointless arrests, and that most arrests made for drug offences relate to trivial offenders and not lucrative gangsters.
This is not surprising because lucrative drug gangs actually benefit from the illegality of drugs; the system works in their favour. Do we as a society still want a system that works in their favour? Drug gangs use mules and vulnerable individuals to do their dirty work for them. Mules are then targeted by the cops and sent to jail while the source of the problem is left untreated. The supply of drugs does not diminish, in other words the entire anti-drugs process is a failure.
“Successful” drug busts are often achieved via “tip offs” and “confidential information.” Sting operation is another term used. Whereas a more appropriate way of describing such prosecutions would be a “set-up.”
Upon studying many cases of drug prosecutions one can see clearly that the whole cycle of justice (or rather injustice) revolves around a corrupt mechanism of scapegoating extremely vulnerable individuals; drug gangs coerce vulnerable individuals into incriminating themselves before the watchful eyes of the police. This is evident in cases where those who owe drug debts are forced to hold drugs, or firearms, only to be caught (set-up) by the police and sent to jail. Read the following articles for real life examples in Ireland:
It is clear that drug laws are manipulated by gangsters to perpetuate tragedy. The tragic stories play out over and over again like a broken record. The only way of fixing the broken record is by decriminalising drugs.
At the end of the day those who profit from this well-oiled counter-productive system include; the police, the prison industry (most prisoners are there for drug related offences), the drug gangs, judges, barristers, solicitors, court personnel, probation officers.
One thing that’s ironic about The War on Drugs is that gangsters are some of the very few who would suffer if drugs were decriminalised. Gangsters would be put out of business, although so too might be police officers, judges, barristers, solicitors etc. Perhaps a lot of these powerful entities behind the justice system are against decriminalising drugs because they know it would affect their profits?
The financial cost of the global War on Drugs has thus far made it into the trillions. Trillions of dollars flushed down the toilet to help make society worse and not better. Just think of what could be done if that money were better spent on fixing societal problems. Just think of how much better the world would be if we taxed that trillion dollar industry; took it out of the hands of the cartels, made it safer, treat addiction as an illness and not a crime, use the trillions to build rehabilitative resources for addicts instead of spending trillions on destroying their future by putting them into prison. Taxing drugs could even go a long way in financing the broken housing crisis in western countries. If we taxed drugs we could build homes – who doesn’t think that’s a good trade-off?
There are several aspects of the drugs industry that would become safer if drugs were decriminalised. One of the most dangerous aspects of the illegal drugs trade is the way in which drugs are sold; small and large quantities of drugs are sold to users on credit (on tick as it’s known).
The unregulated capacity for sales on credit, and the dynamic of underage people purchasing drugs without I.D. are dangerous aspects of the drugs trade made possible only because the industry is illegal. Drug dealers do not ask young people for I.D. and they do not require cash to be paid upfront. There is a stupendous amount of people shot dead every day because they owe a drugs debt to a criminal organisation. Innocent bystanders are sometimes executed too in cases of mistaken identity, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is where the recklessness of The War on Drugs can claim the lives of innocent people who have never even been involved in drugs before ( https://www.echo.ie/appeal-for-information-on-murder-of-clondalkin-grandfather-patrick-sullivan/ ).
Decriminalise drugs and you make it more difficult for underage people to procure drugs, you reduce the ubiquity of debts owed for drugs, and you reduce the needless shootings and dangers for society. Putting an end to the catastrophic phenomenon of buying/selling drugs on tick can only be achieved by decriminalising drugs.
Governments and mainstream media often present biased viewpoints on the facts surrounding drugs. In the early 1990’s comedian Bill Hicks joked about the media bias on drug reporting ( https://youtu.be/DWpzT56nxZI ). While his stand-up gig might have been somewhat insensitive, he did touch on a good point. The facts around drug reporting are often biased.
Debate is often biased, and although the fear-mongering can have a potent effect within young children, teenagers and adults develop to see things differently. People should know that there are interesting experiments suggesting that drugs such as LSD and MDMA might boost creativity and help treat problems such as PTSD, depression and anxiety ( https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/can-microdosing-psychedelics-boost-mental-health-heres-what-the-evidence-shows ).
It is important to note that decriminalising drugs does not mean everybody should go out and recklessly overdose on intoxicants. Some people would object to decriminalising drugs because they fear it sends out the wrong message; they fear that it tells society we should all go out and become drug addicts. The answer to that kind of objection is; just because something is legal does not mean it has to be consumed. Toilet bleach is perfectly legal and yet not many people drink it. With the right kind of information, most people will make responsible decisions whether a substance is legal or not. Proof of this is seen in how tobacco consumption has radically declined over the past 20 years ( https://publicpolicy.ie/downloads/papers/2020/Trends_in_Smoking_Prevalence_and_Tobacco_Consumption.pdf ).
32% of 18-24 year olds consumed tobacco in Ireland in 2003. By 2019 that figure was reduced to 18%. Tobacco is still legal (and probably more harmful than many illegal drugs) but we didn’t have to ban it in order to reduce its appeal. Likewise we don’t have to ban other consumed substances in order to reduce their appeal. Decriminalising drugs does not mean that society has to celebrate disgusting and destructive drug abuse.
There are many truths about drugs that are not emphatically spoken of. Most young adults are well aware of the omnipresent visibility of drugs within their environment. In 2022 buying a bag of cocaine is as easy as buying a bag of crisps. We are now at a stage where police officers themselves are using the very drugs that they claim to be fighting ( https://www.joe.ie/news/garda-arrested-suspended-drugs-offences-638313 ).
Does the world need to see much more evidence of failed policy before deciding its time to change our drug laws?