Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not the UN's approach to drugs

Camilla Cavendish in The Times today writes that instead of tightening up on drugs, they should be legalised and available through pharmacies like Boots and Superdrug.
Why?
She points out that part of the glamour of drugs is not with users, suggesting that those who go overboard like Amy Winehouse may put as many off it than otherwise, but with dealers. Those who can afford flash clothes, jewellery, cars and a relatively easy get rich quick lifestyle. That is the new ambition for all too many young people living in poorer British neighbourhoods.
Teenagers are being attacked and killed as the drug culture flows through much of British youth culture. She suggests that legalisation will achieve three goals at once, with only the one side effect to deal with.
Firstly, it gets rid of the drug dealer. No longer is a fortune to be made selling drugs at street corners or outside schools, but by being behind the counter in pharmacies. The link between crime and drugs ends - not only significantly reducing the violence involved, reducing pressure on prisons, but also recognising that drugs are no longer "special".
Secondly, those who are addicted could more easily and readily seek treatment without fear of persecution by the law. Many drug users are occasional recreational users, for relatively short periods of their lives - the true problem addicts are a minority, but they are the ones who need to feel free to access help.
Thirdly, as pharmacies would be responsible for what they sell, incidences of drugs diluted by other substances, anything from talcum powder to cleaner to ground glass, would end. People would get pure drugs, which would be less toxic than the black market offerings.
Yes there would be the issue of it being cheaper, increasing the opportunity to use it. However now, the price isn't a tremendous barrier. For starters, dealers are known to employ cunning techniques offering freebies and discounts, and they market heavily and directly. This would all end under legalisation. Those who want to take drugs find ways to do so, but once it is no longer forbidden or glamorous, without the criminal profits being made from it, the remaining problem could be far more manageable.
Alcohol for all of the problems arising from overuse, and use by those too young, is far more manageable than drugs. Laws can focus on supply to children, which should remain illegal.
However there is one huge barrier to any of this - it is the UN.
The UN, led by the US on this one, is adamantly opposed to legalisation. It is fighting a losing battle, but the war on drugs is lost. It is about time to switch the tables on dealers, and make life easier for those who want to use safely.
Sadly New Zealand is going in the other direction, despite the evidence, thanks to the efforts of the one man party, Jim Anderton.
Besides as I have said before, it is my body thank you.

1 comment:

Richard Mcgrath said...

Completely logical arguments there Scott, but just try and get Anderton and others to listen to it. So many people equate promoting legalisation of drugs with promoting drug use itself - that's the hurdle we have to overcome.