Saturday, October 31, 2009

Drugs are Drugs are Drugs...

I'm not going to discuss the resignation of Professor Nutt or government policy. But drugs- including alcohol – have a devastating effect on families. Alcohol is governed by licensing laws with consequences, which could include loss of livelihood if contravened. Drugs however are illegal and therefore unlicensed. It seems that licensing the use of and distribution of illegal drugs might be the way to go. It surely must be worth a trial period. Remove the indirect dangers such as thuggish distributers who work outside the law, impure drugs whose 'fillers' (the substances various levels of distribution 'cut' the product with to increase profits) which are often more dangerous than the drug. Remove the 'street cred' value and restrict the usage to adults and we might clean up the drug scene, improve society in general and reduce crime.

The problem with this approach is it won't work. Minors will find ways to access drugs. Adults will supply them. There will still be an illegal trade to avoid the excise duty any government will surely apply.

It is my opinion that the only answer is zero tolerance. Prosecute whether in possession of a gram or a kilogram. Change the law so that possession is not the only criterion by which a user/supplier can be prosecuted. Chemical testing to establish contact with drugs should be used. Make the consequences severe.

I understand the argument that prohibition doesn't work and often quoted is the US Volstead Act (prohibition). But this did not work for two reasons. First, it was an attempt to prohibit the use of an already legal and socially accepted intoxicant. Second, the Act only prohibited the distribution of alcohol. It did not prohibit the use or sale of alcohol.

I also advocate the removal of classification of drugs. A gram of heroin or a pound of cannabis should be treated equally under the law. Sentencing should be adjusted according to mitigating circumstances, not that this is bad because it's heroin or not so bad because it's cannabis.

It is certain current legislation is not working. Equally, educating on the dangers of drugs alone is inadequate. Telling people a drug is dangerous creates an atmosphere of disbelief when drug users can be seen to suffer few ill effects from their habit in the short term.

Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. The only certainty is that something must be done.


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