Time for a grown-up debate on drugs

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

One aspect of free-market fundamentalism which never fails to raise an eyebrow is the suggestion that nothing should ever be regulated, and ‘the markets’ will sort out its own problems. But there is one product to which corporations and libertarians never press for less regulation, or against its prohibition: narcotics.

From early on in life, we are taught to see drug prohibition as logical. After all, drugs are illicit, and lead to horrific addictions that rot the mind, body and lead to financial ruin. But then, so does alcohol.

America learnt the hard way that prohibition of alcohol did not work, and yet steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the same is true of other drugs. You only have to look at the extreme violence and power involving the Zetas and others in Mexico to realise that drug cartels can accrue formidable power that even shames aggressive multinationals, for they have tactics even the most contemptible corporations cannot wield, in First World Nations at least: armed coercion and tactical murders.

Drugs in the wrong hands can be weapons of war, forcing the most desperate in society to debase and criminalize themselves simply to block out the pain of withdrawal. Drug cartels do not need ‘employees’, and don’t deal in employment rights. They blackmail vulnerable people with threats and torture in order to make them the fall guys in their operations. Only the people at the top see the big payoffs, and they do not waste time showing mercy or consolidating. They are ever expanding, even into the political arena. Their opponents are not smeared, scorned or debated with. They are ruthlessly wiped out, usually in ways that would give most people recurring nightmares.

Yet drugs, like alcohol, could be integrated in a safe and effective way into society, to be used responsibly and recreationally by consenting adults. All that would have to be done is to legalize all drugs.

Although we live under the planet-straddling spectre of globalized NeoLiberalism, which promotes small Government and loose regulation, the hypocrisy on this issue could not be more pronounced. They want unfettered free markets, but not with certain drugs. They want to spy on and control their citizens, to the extent that they ban substances which would be used for personal consumption only. The US even allows individuals to hold firearms, whose only purpose is to maim or kill.

Under the right controls, drugs may only be as risky as alcohol. It is drug trafficking which ruins the world. Drug dealing thrives on addiction, encourages and exploits it. Under thorough Government control, drugs would be clean and would only ever be consumed recreationally, with extensive rehabilitation programmes for addicts in place. The beautiful part is that these programmes and controls would be paid for by effective taxation on all drugs. The revenue could also shore up the ‘deficits’ of these nations.

This is an idea of all-encompassing State as provider, but Portugal has also seen success at simply decriminalizing possession, while still cracking down on trafficking:


I would personally propose going further in having the State seize and control flow of all narcotics, in an effort to cut off the cartels’ power in one fell swoop.

Heroin or crystal meth addiction is often held up whenever anyone debates legalizing drugs, but these are minority extremes, exacerbated by dealers. Most recreational drug users can have a great time and stay responsible. The most dangerous aspect for these occasional users is knowing what they are taking. Government control would again prevent this risk.

The ‘free markets’ exploit an incredible array of products and resources which are scientifically proven to damage the human body: cigarettes, strong alcohol, junk food, sun beds; and yet none of these is ever declared war against or criminalized. We need to hold up the hypocrisy of free market profiteering for what it is, and realise that grown adults should be given the opportunity to experiment and recreationally use whatever they wish under safe circumstances, whilst also contributing to the nation’s upkeep, and dismantling some of the most dangerous and bloodthirsty criminal groups on the planet.


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