Drugs, drugs drugs drugs, most people take one form or another, my drug of choice is alcohol, for others tobacco, canabis, MDMA, heroin and cocaine.
However this topic isn't about that, it's about drugs policy and whether it makes sense both scientifically and from a social stand point, I would personally argue that it doesn't.
Now first, science.
I'm going to get this straight off the bat?
List these drugs in order of their dangerousness as considerred by experts, post then see the answer.
Now is zim talking out his arse here?, no, no he is not.http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/drugs_graph432.jpg
Now that is from a journal article (unfortunately, as you guys are not scientists you would have to pay to read it, chibi might not and I'll link him if he's interested) that is held in high regard, it was written by the former head of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs (a British govt authority), David Nutt.
He was removed from that position due to the controversial nature of that paper and his views on drug classification.
For reference, those results of relative harm are based on the mean scores from a set of experts in the field on the harm of drugs on a scale of 1-3 of 9 different paramaters of physical harm, dependence and social damage.
The colour coding is showing the class status of the drug, in this country, the class corresponds to the punishment with class A warranting the highest punishment.
These classifications while not exactly the same do seem to match up well with analogues in other nations.
So what is shown is a dissonance between drug policy and drug harm based on scientific evidence.
Ecstacy is considerred by many to be one of the worst drugs on that list, receiving a class A status, but is in fact less harmful than cannabis and even alcohol (which is more harmful than cannabis as well, which is Class B)
In fact as David Nutt showed, Ecstacy is in fact less dangerous than horse riding as a proportion of those who do it, at least as far as physical harm to themselves is concerned (this got him into a lot of trouble, but he is technically very much correct), while not meaning ecstacy is safe, it is safer than many other drugs.
Personally this is something I despise as I dislike the idea of the government utterly ignoring scientific evidence on the issue, even to the point of firing someone simply because his views dissagree with public policy at the time (many people including the science minister at the time were also very much alarmed at this).
Now, I think thats the scientific argument over.
Whats to be done about this?
Well personally I see 4 main options.
Decriminalisation and legalisation.
Nothing- well, I'm not even going to argue the benefits of this, I see none.
Reclassification- In my view this would not solve many of the problems of the drug trade, in fact there is a chance it could make things worse, and you'd still be hit with the glaring problem of tobacco and alcohol frankly needing class B and class A status by those rules, while I accept that drugs policy should be based on scientific evidence, simply reclassification based on relative harm would not be the total solution.
It would work to some extent if only already illegal drugs had their class changed, it wouldn't solve the drugs problem, but it would make punishment more fair.
This is my preferred option.
Now this isn't legalisation, this is simply no longer pursuing criminal charges against people, it would still be illegal to possess drugs, but it would have less severe consequences, obviously drug smuggling would be illegal and supplying would be, but possession would not.
Are you aware one country has already done this?
If not, it's Portugal.
Yes in portugal you will not be thrown in jail for owning drugs, they will be confiscated and you will be put in front of a commission, but it will be there to push you into drug therapy and treatment, not a prison sentence, unless evidence of tracking is found, then you will go to a criminal court, the police do not arrest you, you are simply cited and are expected to appear at the comission in 3 days time.
Now the Cato institute (an organisation I don't like actually as they're american libertarians) did a study using data on a set of health paramaters and showed that in the first 5 years since (2001-2006) decriminilisation of drugs in portugal caused:
Drug overdoses to drop
Drug use in teenagers to drop (although this one is partly explained by a global trend in marijuana use)
The number of people seeking treatment to drop.
HIV rates to drop,
This was all while in the EU, drug based deaths increased.
Fears that have been shown to be false.
Drug tourism (95% of drug use is still by the portuguese, not by foreign nationals), and the rates for members of the EU being caught with drugs are incredibly low in portugal, (72 non portuguese europeans were caught taking drugs, out of 5556 total europeans, meaning the rest are portuguese), other figures for other countries/continents are higher, largely african nations, but unless africans are now wealthy enough to do drug tourism I am less than concerned.
At max 3 US citizens went, and thats if you count the "others" section of people from the americas being caught as being US citizens, which would be silly, theres several nations in that group.
This one you can read, so I'll link.http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf
Now the paper doesn't cover it based on my quick read of it (unless I'm blind, please do correct me), but other things such as theft to pay for drugs, must be accepted to decrease if people are enterring therapy more readily.
However portugal (as far as I know based on what I've learned) doesn't do what I have thought for a long time would work, as have others, it's not been tested but I accept the premise.
The government supplies illegal drugs directly to addicts (if they have been shown to be addicts), in a controlled environment, and this would be funded by the state as part of their therapy.
I believe this would effectively lower the effect of drug trafficking, as many once reaching a state of addiction would seek help.
It would also be cleaner.
Now I know, SOCIALISM!!!!, or something.
But how much do you think is spent putting drug abusers in prison?
And it seems to have no benefits.
This system seems to have it, and I simply think that could be an add on to that system thus cutting drugs off at the source.
I guess it'd lower certain nations (in particular America due to your massive prison population) manufacturing industry, due to less people in the prisons (Americas prison population shot up in the 1970's when nixon declared the war on drugs: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/US_incarceration_timeline.gif
Oh wait, lowering the US prison population drastically is a good thing.
Sometimes I forget.
59.6% of your prisoners are in prison for drug offenses, and you have the highest prison population in the world, and as always, these drug policies aren't working.
The last one was drug decriminalisation and legalisation.
Well, that ones obvious, it's the same benefits, but legalisation.
I'm not even going to bother explaining the benefits to that, because my personal stance is that we simply need decriminalisation.
Legalisation is less important at the moment, but it probably could be performed for the obvious (pot).