Thursday, 19 August 2010

The future points to legalising drug use - but money and lives could be saved now

I don’t expect to see the legalisation of prostitution, euthanasia, or personal drug use in the UK in my lifetime, although a strong case allowing tight regulation can be made for all three.
In each case MPs’ fear of a public backlash and the concern that such moves would “send out the wrong message” will keep these radical changes off the statute books for a long time to come.
But no one can really tell with the Coalition government how far it will go to slash the deficit left by New Labour. Justice minister Ken Clarke is already pledged to cut the prison population to save money much to the disgust of the Tory right.
Decriminalising drug use would make good sense to an accountant. Meanwhile voices in the medical and legal establishment that the prohibition on drug taking just isn’t working are not lone ones any more. Only the political will is missing to stage a revolution in thinking on illegal drugs.
It may be that where the Tories would be unwilling to pursue libertarian small government arguments as applied to personal drug taking, economic considerations might force a re-think.
Some of the savings on anti-drug law enforcement could be diverted to education and rehabilitation initiatives thereby saving lives. The biggest asset would be the drop in drug-related crime. Our prisons would be emptier and prostitution likely to fall as fewer women fed their habits by selling their bodies.
Criminals would see a ready source of revenue dry up. Young people going through their drug experimentation stage would not by stigmatised by a criminal record for the rest of their lives.
I concede that 'soft' drug use might be more widespread but as with booze and tobacco, its sale would be licensed – and heavily taxed.
But as I said at the beginning of this post, I doubt the UK is ready to make the big move on drug decriminalisation.


  1. Well, GC, the UK could not do this on its own, says jaffa. THIS IS A MULTI BILLION DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRY. Decisions would have to be made on an internanational basis with UN Security Council, unanimous agreement.

  2. Not so Jaffa,
    As the current debate in Latin America illustrates, drug legalisation will only extend to possession for personal use - not to suppliers and dealers - and doesn't involve the UN.

  3. GC. You misunderstand my point, says Jaffa. If drugs are legalised even for personal use, but done so worldwide with all the respective governments selling the drugs, then the suppliers would not be in business because the government [s] would be the supplier and would control the market. Moreover all the crime associated with supplying drugs would be knocked out.


What do you think? GC