The biggest danger of drugs are the consequences of our own war on drugs. This has worked to push the supply chain underground and into the hands of criminal cartels. It has led to drug money funding criminal activity and escalating violence around the globe. When it is in the hands of criminals the drugs are of an unknown quality and often kill because of this. We have a society that creates conditions that lead to lots of drug addicts, and yet we blame the drugs themselves. We do this because we cannot face up to the conditions that have people turning to drugs for an escape in the first place.
A law will not stop people wishing to experiment with drugs, human beings have a curious nature. All it does is criminalise otherwise law abiding citizens and force them to seek supplies from illegal and potentially dangerous sources. During the prohibition of alcohol in America during 1920 – 1933 it did not stop people from drinking it just forced them to do so illegally. As a result they funded gangsters and organised crime, and this also led to people being killed by dangerous batches of homemade alcohol which had no quality control. Our war on drugs has failed miserably for the same reasons, and that’s because making a drug illegal does nothing to stop the demand for it.
Whilst there is still a demand for drugs people will find a way to obtain them. In our modern world two of the most harmful and destructive drugs (Alcohol and Tobacco) are legal whilst others that cause considerably less harm such as Cannabis and MDMA are illegal. This sends out confusing messages to youngsters and is counterproductive in the efforts of educating people on the true harms of the drugs they are taking. Government policy does not take into consideration the true harm but ingrained prejudices and vested interests that are not based around the scientific evidence.
The scientists that have been hired as experts in the field of drug harm reduction such as Professor David Nutt (who wrote the book; - “Drugs - Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs”) have lost their jobs because their research contradicted what the Government ministers wanted to hear. Government ministers who are not experts in those fields deciding policy which runs contrary to the scientific evidence.
It is through education and access to honest information about the dangers and effects of drugs that is the best way to create an informed populace who can then make informed choices. By legalising drugs, you can regulate the quality, money can go back into the community from sales, people can be offered medical help if they have developed an addiction. Large swathes of money are kept away from the criminals and as result crime rates lower. The money being spent of the war on drugs can instead be diverted into healthcare and education. The time, effort and resources the police spend on fighting drug related crime can be put to a more effective use.
Some say “if you legalised drugs tomorrow, usage would sky rocket” this is not true those who desire to take drugs can and will do it now. Those who do not take heroin now wouldn’t suddenly change their minds and start taking it if it became legalised, if the law changed tomorrow that would not change their view of the substance. However, those who do take heroin could do so as safely as possible and with minimised risks. It would also eliminate the need for them to commit crime to feed their incessant addiction.
As we have seen in recent years in the UK as a result of our drug policy the drug market was flooded with so called “legal highs”. These were newly created substances that escaped being illegal which mimicked the effects of illegal drugs, and a result of this drugs that were far more harmful than the ones they were mimicking became widely and cheaply available. This has led to drugs such as “Spice” (a synthetic cannabis substitute) flooding the market and causing huge damage and addiction to the users.
I have experienced first hand whilst assisting a collapsed homeless man in Derby the damage this drug can have and how vulnerable its users can become whilst high. It is becoming an epidemic within the homeless population within the UK, but when they are in the circumstances they are it is no surprise they are turning to this drug to escape what is a bleak reality, one where they are imprisoned by their poverty, and the streets are their jail.
As night turns to day people will be trusted to make up their own minds on drugs and not be criminalised for doing something that has not brought any harm to another. The focus will purely be on harm reduction, and not on unfair and unjust policies that do far more harm than the drugs themselves. Come day we will have a much more liberal attitude towards drugs, yet we will take far less.
It is during the relentless pressure cooker of the night that so many feel the need to escape a harsh reality through drug addiction. Yet as the light returns life becomes more joyous and carefree, and as a result people will no longer wish to escape reality but to fully participate in its creation.