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posted by martyb on Tuesday May 15 2018, @05:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the making-way-too-much-sense dept.

AlterNet reports

Embracing a harm reduction and public health perspective, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals has released a signed editorial calling for the legalization, taxation, and regulation of currently illegal drugs.

In an editorial [May 10] entitled Drugs Should Be Legalized, Regulated, and Taxed, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, notes that under drug prohibition, the global trade "fuels organized crime and human misery", and asks, "Why should it not instead fund public services?"

Citing an opinion piece[1] in the same issue of the BMJ from British members of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP, formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) Jason Reed and Paul Whitehouse, Godlee notes that in the United Kingdom (as in the United States) "vast sums are spent prosecuting individuals and trying vainly to interrupt the flow of drugs into cities" while that money would be much better "spent on quality control, education, treatment for drug users, and child protection". Under legalization, "revenues could be diverted from criminal gangs into government coffers", she writes.

Godlee notes that the global drug prohibition consensus is fraying around the edges, and points to the example of Portugal, which decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001. There, drug use remains in line with levels in other European countries, but the harms associated with drug use under prohibition have decreased dramatically, particularly in terms of fatal drug overdoses and the spread of injection drug-related infectious disease.

[1] Bad link in TFA; corrected in TFS.

Previous: Portugal Cut Drug Addiction Rates in Half by Rejecting Criminalization


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RedBear on Tuesday May 15 2018, @06:47PM

    by RedBear (1734) on Tuesday May 15 2018, @06:47PM (#680140)

    Look, some shit just shouldn't be legal. Maybe decriminalized, but not legalized outright like marijuana. There is never going to be any good excuse for recreational fentanyl use, for example, and ditto meth. Weed, definitely, that stuff is more medicine than drug if you prepare it right, but not the harder ones.

    Superficially, what you say makes some sort of sense. Yet, ultimately I feel you're still falling into the same sort of trap that we're currently stuck in. You want to keep some substances "illegal" despite the fact that those substances are already highly illegal and yet this does absolutely nothing to keep people from illegally distributing it to the people who desire to use it.

    I think we can all agree that it should always be a crime to provide dangerous and/or addictive substances to minors, but beyond that, the act of making substances illegal for adults to choose to use on themselves has been backfiring for as long as it has been in practice. It simply doesn't work. Actually, it's worse than that. There is in fact substantial historical evidence to suggest that attempting to legally control these substances triggered epidemics of addiction by making drugs more interesting and "fun". Where the bulk of society didn't much care about using those substances and looked down upon those who abused them just as they looked down on obvious alcoholics, suddenly after they were declared highly dangerous and illegal they became much more titillating and attractive to several segments of society, from the destitute to the wealthy and powerful. It is a self-defeating process, and produces a powerful criminal underclass that gets its power and influence from the ability to provide what people want despite the illegality. The exact same thing happened during Prohibition. Crime families gained a ridiculous amount of power over American society from our failed attempt to stop Americans from drinking alcohol.

    In the end, attempting to keep any substance "illegal" will always have the opposite effect to what you want it to have. Mass incarceration of people who are only harming themselves is destroying our society, and the money and criminal violence sweeping through South and Central America that triggers most of the undocumented immigrants to risk the journey to come here is directly caused by the fact that middle-class and wealthy Americans keep buying their illegal drugs. If we legalize, we pull the rug out from under all of that, including all of the drug-related gangs here in the US. If the drug dealers become "legal", licensed and regulated businessmen, the violence related to the drug trade will drop like a stone. A completely legal business owner has far less interest in losing everything by committing crimes when it isn't necessary. Instead of wasting billions of dollars accomplishing nothing with militarized police raids that only find a small fraction of the drugs in circulation we can instead tax the drug sellers and put that income toward helping people who find themselves addicted, just as we have done with alcohol, tobacco, and now marijuana.

    I know it's hard, but it's time to let go completely of the idea that drugs can be controlled by making them illegal. They very obviously can't, and the related consequences of harsh drug policies are far more harmful and expensive than what will happen if we legalize everything. (For adults.)

    The same argument can and should be made for legalizing and regulating prostitution and gambling, and anything else that right now provides power and income to organized crime instead of providing public tax revenue to help support a stable society.

    --
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    ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
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