Legalise drugs or license the users instead

By Rightnow289 · Aug 5, 2009 · ·
  1. Rightnow289
    Drug problems are getting worse, it's time to seek alternative approaches

    Sir, Antonia Senior is right that drug legislation is a failure (Opinion, July 31), and Keith Hunter (letter, Aug 3) is right that this has been known for a long time. In 1995, while I was a vice-president of the Royal Society of Medicine, I organised a symposium on “Alternative approaches to the control of cocaine and heroin”. Twelve international experts, including the head of Interpol then, agreed that the policies in force at the time were not working and would never succeed. Since then the policies have continued and the problems have got much worse.

    However, the solution is not to legalise drugs: there would rightly be too much public opposition to such a change. The better solution would be to license drug users. Just as people wanting to use a motor car or a television require a licence, so anyone who wanted to use drugs would apply to the Home Office for a licence, probably through their GP. Licensed users would be able to obtain specified drugs from a pharmacist, for the cost of an NHS prescription. They would have to submit regular hair samples for testing, to ensure that they were taking the supplied drugs. They would be free from any risk of prosecution but anyone found using or possessing drugs without a licence would be liable to much higher penalties than at present.

    The objective of this would be to remove the trade from the drug dealers. It is the enormous amount of money involved that drives the trade, and only an economic response will stop this. I am convinced that most genuine addicts would welcome this opportunity to be maintained on standardised drugs without the financial worries. So-called recreational users could also be licensed, but if they were embarrassed about that, they might prefer not to continue to take the drugs in the face of very severe penalties. I hope that this idea will be considered by those who could implement changes to the law.

    Dr Gavin A. Cullen

    Woking, Surrey

    Sir, Legislative attempts to control the sale and consumption of psychotropic drugs began with the International Opium Convention of 1912 and have continued for almost a century with conspicuous lack of success. Drugs are freely available to those who want them. The price is high, reflecting the risks to the suppliers of seizures en route and the risks of detection and arrest approaching the points of sale. The high prices required from consumers, who tend not to be among society’s high earners, drives them, of course, to crime. Since the motives for crime are not recorded in the criminal statistics it is impossible to say how much acquisitive crime, from bag and mobile phone snatching through car radio stealing to house burglaries and armed robberies on sub post offices, can be laid at the door of drug users. But long experience in the criminal courts as advocate and judge has led me to the belief that it was a great deal — perhaps even most of it.

    The only solution is to decriminalise the supply and consumption of drugs. Supply could then be taxed and consumption regulated — just like the supply and consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Both are dangerous (in the case of alcohol not only to the consumer but to others also) but both are taxed, tolerated and consumed, generally in moderation. The American experiment with the prohibition of alcohol was a failure and short-lived. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs has been equally a failure but of much longer duration. It is time to end it.

    There are treaty complications (eg, the Psychotropic Substances Convention 1990) but these are not insuperable. And if the experiment turned out after a time to be a failure, as it would if drug consumption rose and acquisitive crime failed to fall, Parliament could re-enact the drugs legislation and we would be back where we are now.

    Peter Crawford, QC

    Former Recorder of Birmingham

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  1. cra$h
    ah, music to my ears.... time to finally end the sufferings of users, producers, transporters, and even families who have been influenced by the black market. The coutner arguments are pretty weak, putting money in front of the benifit of society. The UN claims that if drugs were legal, more people would use. Marijuana would be the exception, but ask 100 people if they would try heroin, crack, lsd or meth if it were legal, and even if you combine every yes for the aformentioned drugs, less than 10 people would say yes. probably less than 5.

    As for the license idea, no. simply would be innefective. Swim's not going to carry around another card, or have a mark on his drivers lisence (which is how they'd probably do it to save plastics). This sets swim up to be hassled and oppressed by authorities even more. If swim's going to buy his drugs, it's going to be discrete and anonymous. Swim's not fueling DEA enforced stereotypes and doubt any other user wants to be a part of that. Even the addicts that are a part of it wouldn't want to be labeled like that. And wtf is up with the hair sampling idea? They really want to gather every "lisenced" user's hair to test for drugs that they aren't qualified for? Oh, and who's to say what swim's qualified for? If swim wants some acid, but can't because he's been to a shrink for depression or some shit, no one should reject that from swim. sure as hell drug dealers aren't that mean.

    "I am convinced that most genuine addicts would welcome this opportunity to be maintained on standardised drugs without the financial worries"
    Isn't there a healtcare crisis? Isn't the caue by increasing costs? Do you honestly believe that giving out "cheaper" drugs to people would be OK with non using tax payers? Dumbass.

    And one last thing (yea I know it's been a lot of reading), what the hell is the drug on the lower left? Just when I think I know 'em all, another one pops up. Now I know how Ash Ketchum feels......
  2. 354bottle
    Swim does not believe America has the political will to stop the machine that wages the war on drugs. Americans are led to believe that locking up any and all persons involved in non-medicinal drug activity reduces crime. The exact opposite is true. The truth is not condusive to funding the existing bureaucracy. From a DARE program for ten year old kids to the most powerful military in the world, the American war on drugs is an entrenched bureaucracy that operates on many fronts around the world.

    Licensing the user would do nothing but exaserbate (spelling?) the situation. Less law and more personal responsibility would do more good than another program from the government. How such a program would be managed is a scary thought if the government has anything to do with it.

    As long as it is a crime to deal dope, the war will never end. The profits from a two bit street deal fund the Taliban. The enemy is funded in part because of American drug policy.

    War on drugs? Yeah, right.
  3. Nature Boy
    I'm not feeling this license idea. I mean, I would be in favour of a psychedelics license of some kind. A membership that gives you access to psilocybin, LSD and various other hallucinogens of the highest laboratory quality. I think cannabis should be legalised widely, similar to the Dutch coffeeshop model only that the supply industry would be legitimised. Naturally occuring psychedelics like magic mushrooms, mescaline cactus and other plant-based drugs; should be acquirable but only to adults and the packaging should contain plenty of information (plus a valium tablet, lol). I don't think there's any great hurry to legalise cocaine, heroin, PCP etc. but it's hard to figure out how MDMA would be sold. It's perfectly safe if you know what you're doing but some idiot would ruin it if you could buy large doses legally. Perhaps MDMA (and similar research chemicals) could be lumped in with the psychedelics license. But generally speaking, enforcing a drug user's license whilst upping the penalties on those that don't bother with a license sounds like an unworkable system.
  4. Rightnow289
    Sounds like SWIY just want to legalise the drugs that SWIY use.

    No hurry to legalise heroin? If anything the drug that does the most damage due to being illegal is heroin. If heroin was legal it would be of a consistent quality therefore overdoses would be a thing of the past. Also the fact that heroin is so expensive (due to being illegal) leads to users stealing or resorting to other crime. If it were legalised the price would come down drastically and crime would decrease as an outcome. Also if heroin and cocaine were legal this would cut profits of the taliban and major cartels respectively.

    With psychedelics they are mostly perfectly safe already even though they are illegal because the majority cannot be tampered with. Same with marijuana. It's the drugs that can be cut that are the problem.

    Also it's perfectly safe if SWIY know SWIY are doing with any drug but some people just don't bother.

    Pacman thinks for these reasons the world will see heroin legal in some form before nearly all other drugs (A la Switzerland)
  5. podge
    Swim personally thinks drugs license's for Psychedelics , Opiates, Amphetamines is the best way to go. The logic being : who would continue to buy random quality street drugs illegally when they could apply for top quality drugs legally ? Why risk harsh penalties and bad drugs when there is a safer alternative, i dont see the black market continuing under these conditions. All people need to do is show a basic knowledge of the drugs they intend to take, undergo a physical and psychological examination to see if there are any particularly obvious reasons why a person shouldnt take a certain drug, and they can then be issued a license. Sounds like the most reaonable approach to drug policy iv heard.

    I agree with Natureboy on the cannabis issue, a dutch style coffeeshop system with age restrictions and also with a legitamised supply system is the best way to work the marijuana situation.
  6. Nature Boy
    Perhaps doctors could distribute quality-controlled heroin to gradually ween addicts off black market supply but I don't think heroin can be made available to the wider public. It's simply too addictive. Ideally, there wouldn't be any real need for stringent drug laws if people educated themselves sufficiently but they don't tend to do that. Cannabis would have to be the first step along the way because it doesn't cause overdoses and it doesn't have the unpredictability of stronger psychedelics (in typical smoked doses anyway). It just seems like an easy one to begin with. Give it the same legal status as synthetic cannabinoids have now. It would be a great revenue spinner and it might curb alcohol-related violence.
  7. slayering666
    This is a good idea but there's one thing i have a problem with.
    Allowing them to take the drugs i recommend but this seems to suggest that the user is not allowed to take breaks if he/she wishes to because they will be subject to a test that requires they take the drug to pass, this means if you decide to take a 3 month break to bring the magic back you could lose your drug license...or am i missing something here?
  8. missparkles
    Sparkles was a registered addict back in the day. If she was stopped she had a card (still has it somewhere) and the cops were cool. It seemed to lose favour when so many became addicts and was seen as an unfeasible idea.
    It could work, but the legal ramifications, as well as the implementation of any laws around this idea, are huge.
    Sparkles thinks agreeing to this would be like admitting defeat, something the government just wouldn't/couldn't do. If they admit they were wrong about drug use, they leave themselves open to attack about other unpopular policies. And drugs is the "biggie" for most governments.
  9. Motorhead
    I often read the argument that if drugs were legal, regulated, and thus sold at a cheaper price then the crime related to supporting habits would disappear-or at least be greatly reduced. Perhaps. But think about it for a second. How much cheaper would legal drugs be? Booze and cigarettes are legal and they can be pretty expensive. Even if heroin and cocaine were price fixed at a low cost license or no license, the shear amount of drugs an addict requires would still warrant a hefty expense. I mean Crack is already relatively cheap now, and how many crack addicts do you know with a fat wallet?

    Also how many full blown heroin or cocaine addicts can hold down a full time job? I'm sure there are some, probably some on the forum here, but generally speaking it's tough. And how many companies want to hire drug addicts? Shit, they are already talking about firing smokers and obese people.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of getting rid of prohibition. Drugs aren't bad, but drug addiction is. Drug addiction is the cause of crime and other stresses on the economy like loss of employment and health care costs. So in addition to fretting over the legal status of controlled substances with socio/economic solutions, there must also be in place a system that tackles the actual pharmacological/physcological nature of addiction that is the root cause of the problems mentioned in the OP.
  10. Sven99
    Alcohol and tobacco can be pricey, but not compared to cocaine and heroin. You don't typically hear about drunks stealing to funs their habits.

    In the countries that have prescription, the majority of heroin addicts can hold down a job. Its the chaotic lifestyle associated with illegal heroin more than the drug that makes keeping a job hard for addicts.
  11. cra$h
    From swim's experience, keeping up an opiate habbit sucks the initiative outta ya. Then when there's a new employee, you're pushed to the side. You gotta admit, drugs like opiates do change your personality.

    Regarding drug prices, the government would base prices off what local prices are, and tax the fuck outta them; just like how they price cigs. Virginia they're $2 a pack, NYC they're $10. Just imagine the price difference in something like cocaine? Nebraska would be a dollar a gram! But then this would lead to the rebirth of the black market. People would buy the cheap drugs, and ship them to the hotspots and jack up the price, still making a profit, still cutting the drugs, and still making it cheaper for the user. dealers will always be cheaper, just so they still have a way to make a buck. Even if it's just a buck.
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