Up until the end of the Victorian age, you were free to put whatever you wanted into your body, but during the first quarter of the twentieth century, all of that changed.
For a variety of reasons (most of which had little to do with individual health or safety) and using a variety of methods (some decidedly dubious) governments began BANNING most mind-altering substances. But it was not until Tricky Dick started his “War Against Drugs” that things got SERIOUS.
Of course, he should have known better: history showed that Prohibition simply did not WORK – in the 1920s, banning BOOZE had merely driven it underground and empowered organised crime.
But disregarding the obvious, Nixon went ahead and began a “war” that, unlike Prohibition – which only lasted a decade or so – has now raged for over FOUR decades. With no more sign of a positive result than the FIRST time.
However, SOME sense is now (finally) being seen – although for political reasons, progress is likely to happen with the speed of an arthritic snail.
It began with “medical marijuana” – and currently continues with three American states looking like they might unilaterally LEGALISE hash (although if they do, they will fall foul of America’s FEDS).
And in much of Europe, possession of small amounts of “certain substances” is barely bothered with, by their police – but they remain ILLEGAL.
So if the U.N., America and Europe DID suddenly acquire some gumption, what would be the outcome? Well, this is where the title of this piece comes in. Perversely, I will begin with…
Anyone with a user friend, relative, or whose OWN life has been screwed up by drugs will understandably wail like a banshee that Legalising And Regulating drugs is a road to HELL. That drug use will increase exponentially and society will go straight down the dumper.
Except that eleven years ago, Portugal essentially decriminalised drugs – a half-way measure – and the number of addicts plummeted. The “stolen sweets” dimension?
Still others claim our roads are dangerous enough as it is – and that stoners will make them WORSE.
Except that drugs are covered by the same legislation as booze – and stoners drive WAY SLOWER than drunks.
And that is really that. Which brings us to…
Where to START?
Okay, how about MONEY? Pound, dollar or euro for pound, dollar or euro, the cash amount required to deal with the fallout from Legalisation And Regulation is just a TINY percentage of the VAST amount spent on Prohibition.
In chronological order – the DEA, Navy, Army, Customs, Police, courts, prisons (and that is just in America) waste BILLIONS (short American or proper ones – take your pick) of pounds, dollars or euros (again, take your pick – either way, it’s a shit-load of money) every year on vain attempts to stem the tide – with NO significant effect.
Every time they bust a mule or dealer, they just create a job opportunity – which will be filled immediately. And when they intercept a large haul, the suppliers simply treat it as “shrinkage” and up the production – and if the supply On The Street DOES lessen, the price.
Then there is crime. World-wide, around half the people in jail are there for drug-related offences. In America, that’s one person in 137 – a World Record (ironic, in “The Land Of The Free”).
This has a number of adverse social effects that could be reversed by introducing L&R – and a moratorium on inmates whose only crime was using.
First, you would free up cops, so they could go out and solve REAL crime.
Plus the American courts would have time to PROSECUTE real criminals, instead of allowing them to plea-bargain their jail-time down – then see their sentences get reduced again, as an expedient to reduce the pressure on their overcrowded prisons.
Is it not absurd that otherwise law-abiding citizens get sent to jail and acquire a criminal record – for doing something that affects NO-ONE except themselves?
And in retarded countries, they face DEATH.
Finally in this section – the EFFECT of crime. How many people have returned to their homes or cars to find someone has done THOUSANDS in damage, to grab a piece of tech (TV, car-radio, computer) that they will only get a few quid, bucks or euros for, to finance their habit for another day?
Which brings us to economics. Drugs that cost a few hundred quid, bucks or euros at source cost hundreds of THOUSANDS by the time they reach The Street. And most of that money goes to the barons. Legally-produced drugs would cost a TINY FRACTION of the illegal ones, thus removing the need for the crimes that support it.
And while the illicit drugs’ CONSUMERS are mostly Westerners (44% American, 33% European – 80% in total) the products come from some VERY dodgy places (in North America: from Central and South America – and in Europe: mostly from Asia) which means that much of the profit ends up supporting TERRORISM (forget about “fake” branded goods).
Then what about the FARMERS? Yes – Westerners FORGET about THEM. Many are FORCED into the trade and risk DEATH. But L&R would restore that trade to legitimacy and their evil bosses would evaporate.
Finally in this section come the drug-producing countries themselves. Many assume they are HAPPY to be a part of it, but the massive profits go straight to the drug barons – the PEOPLE see little of it. All they see are thousands of their citizens gunned down by the warring cartels, politicians blown up because they tried to STOP the carnage – and a total absence of law, order or any effective government.
Then comes the environment. Environment? Yes – annually, the authorities crop-dust umpteen TONS of assorted poisons onto illegal crops (which are often just washed and end up on The Street, regardless – making users SICK). And as the farms are ruined, the growers push into the forest to carve out new ones.
And of course, there are the drugs themselves. Following L&R, the situation would change DRAMATICALLY.
First, there are a number of “nice” natural drugs which are far less harmful than the “hard” drugs currently available – like coca leaves, which locals chew to combat altitude sickness in the Andes and leaf marijuana, which can be smoked like herbal tobacco, rather than the concentrate, which has to be mixed with highly ADDICTIVE “normal” tobacco – never mind the “man-made” nasties like meth.
But the reason you rarely hear about them is that they take up lots of ROOM and are thus less profitable to the criminals than their harder brothers.
Also, given that drugs like the afore-mentioned marijuana and others like MDMA (“Ecstasy”) are less harmful than booze or nicotine, such substances would be available to regular people without the necessity for them to come within the orbits of drug “pushers” – who would like nothing more than to get them hooked on something stronger.
Furthermore, if drugs were L&R-ed, they would be manufactured and processed by legitimate companies, ensuring purity, hygiene and known strength – qualities sadly lacking in those knocked up in back-street “labs” and dirty huts in Third World countries.
Finally in this part comes IGNORANCE: it is inevitable that information about illegal drugs comes from untrained friends of users – and pushers. But once L&R came in, there would be a free flow of non-judgemental EDUCATED information, allowing everybody to KNOW what they were getting INTO.
Now (again perversely) let us look at the LOSERS in L&R…
Drug barons, commercial companies running prisons, American criminals – who could now be prosecuted PROPERLY, arms and military hardware manufacturers (the DEA, Navy, Army, Customs and Police use a LOT of their wares) dodgy banks that “launder” drug money, crooked politicians – the list is endless. But they all have one thing in common – they are SCUM.
So who would be the winners? Well, obviously the drug USERS. But the PRINCIPAL winners would be – OURSELVES.
Thousands of people would not DIE every year – some of whom just got caught in the crossfire. Everyone could get STONED when they wanted, without FEAR. Petty crime might not cease – but it would certainly REDUCE. As would our TAXES. And finance for terrorists would be pinched – we would all be SAFER.
And for those in developing countries, their existence would be TRANSFORMED. Life in many areas of Latin America resembles a war-zone, these days. No wonder those countries are BEHIND reform.
In summation, if L&R were made law – internationally – everyone in this World would be freer and RICHER. Now I’ll drink to THAT (or get stoned, whatever).
The time WILL eventually come – but for this writer, it will be too late. I’m SIXTY now. Statistically, my group are not even IN this fight. Most of us dabbled with hash in our youth – and a few other things. But now we’re too OLD for that shit.
However, even WE are affected by the situation that now exists. We can be blown up by terrorists. Robbed by desperate junkies. And we are ALL affected by the colossal amount of MONEY that our idiot governments WASTE on this nonsense.
Soon I will qualify for the state pension I paid decades of TAXES for. If L&R came in first, the amount I’d receive could be HIGHER. And THAT I would LIKE.