Davie  Webb

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Should Drugs be Legalised?

In the Independent, the UK's politically neutral and arguably most informative daily newspaper, there has been some interesting articles and debates regarding calls to legalise some or all drugs as the so called 'War on drugs' has undoubtedly failed.

So says a panel of world leaders who called yesterday for the biggest shake-up of drug laws in half a century. "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," declared the Global Commission on Drug Policy. "Fundamental reforms... are urgently needed."

The Commission, which counts the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan along with former presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia as members, believes governments must now experiment with "legal regulation of drugs."

Ecstasy, which is currently considered a class-A substance, ought to be reclassified in line with medical opinion that it is far less dangerous than legal drugs such as nicotine and alcohol, the report suggests. Users of narcotics should be offered education and treatment, rather than being incarcerated, it advises. And countries which insist on continuing a "law enforcement" approach to drug crime should focus resources on taking down high-level traffickers, rather than arresting everyday drug mules and street dealers

My initial response was an astounding no. However if we was to view it from a more critical view, such as the the success of stopping drug use and the millions of pounds spent on the 'war on drugs'.. I do feel there needs to be some changes.

- Should all drugs be legalised?
- Should some drugs be legalised? if so - which ones and why?
- what would be the affects of a shift in the laws?

Here is the main article on the subject. Let me know what you think.


  • Jun 3 2011: YEP they should, and not only in obvious case like marijuana, they all should. I never could understand why drugs are not legal. Of course they can be dangerous but cars are dangerous as well killing thousands of people every years. You'll retort that we need cars to go from A to B while drugs as no practical use. To that I would say yes, but they are an amazing experience into your conscience. I believe that if you are not addicted, they can make you a better person.

    Furthermore, making something illegal doesn't make it desapear, as it's well explained above.
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      Jun 3 2011: Explained my thoughts on the matter perfectly
    • Jun 4 2011: I agree that we need to change approach and perhaps legalize something. However we need to have good understanding of the effects of drugs on its users.

      If drug is damaging people's brain and personality then not only the user but the whole society will bear the consequences.

      Another concern I have is exposure of these substances to children.

      Have a look at "side" effects of most drugs:
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    Jun 15 2011: There's exactly 8 years that we changed the law in Portugal so that consumption of drugs wouldn't bet a crime. Nevertheless Portugal was able to reduce the consumption and the number of people living in the streets without any treatment was reduced drastically.

    I would not agree with the legalization of drugs, but I see that in my home country has found a good solution, by approaching the drug addict as a person that needs treatment and not a criminal.
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      Jun 15 2011: Elsa Out of curiosity what was the catalyst for the change in policy in Portugal. Here in the states such is measure would be off the negotiation table politically despite, I suspect, a healthy portion of our population support.
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        Jun 15 2011: well they basicaly had entire bulidings falling apart filled with people just shootin up, picking needles off the ground, people lying in corners dead, it was a serious public health problem, from what i have read.
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          Jun 16 2011: Yes, you could say that about thee States as well, but we do a good job of keeping addicts lock up and out out the public eye.
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    Jun 10 2011: i think all drugs should be deciminalized, with weed being leaglized, and some others being partialy leaglized (mdma,lsd,mushrooms ect.)
  • Jun 10 2011: I believe everyone deserves the freedom to do what they want. The consequences are that if you take drugs you will get addicted most likely, and you could die from it. Governments have no place in making extra consequences for taking actions. Freedom and government will never exist at the same time. But governments have no power unless the people believe they have freedom.
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    Jun 4 2011: Drugs are a vice, that do little to help the man on the bottom.

    BUT, if funding from the war on drugs was pulled and added to education about drugs (prevention) and addiction treatment I think we could get a better NET positive gain.

    Like you said the war on drugs has failed, continuing to use these strategies is to little perceivable benefit
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      Jun 6 2011: i agree. the money spent annually worldwide will be enormous! so i feel that money could go into education, prevention and schemes to get people that do want to quit.
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    Jun 4 2011: I go on the hard line about this issue.
    Any stuff we certainly know is harmful to a person and the society should remain illegal, banned (yes in my opinion it includes alcohol and nicotine). Everything of it should be banned, production, marketing, distribution, sales and consumption, regardless of culture, religion, geographic location or situation.
    About medical use of harmful addictive drugs, I don't have much knowledge how much it is really necessary to use all these harmful substances as medicines anyway, if we have alternative safe elements we need to avoid the use of all sort of addictive drags in medical treatment. And of course no so-called legalization for the sake of medical use.

    There's absolutely no point in letting people do a bad thing just because they might have the 'right' to do it. No, people have no right to do anything harmful to the society and even to themselves.
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      Jun 5 2011: Northing should be banned.
      We're adults, we do what we want.
      I hate the idea of the state "banning" something, who are they to decide.
      Drinking booze is great, I love it. What next do you want to ban....eating red meat?
      There is not such as Society, we interact as free individuals, contracting and trading together as we choose.
      If I want to drink Red Wine, smoke Weed, snort Nutmeg or whatever, that's none of your concern or my neighbours, and absolutely not the Government. They should stop stealing all my money in the name of "tax", and leave me alone to enjoy my life as I choose.
      How can you be so arrogant as to say something should be banned if people might harm themselves with it - knives (what, we're going to eat with our hands?), cars (oh dear, I might crash and kill myself), trousers (oh, I might slip whilst putting them on and break my neck). A decent bottle of Red wine is no more dangerous than a bad pair of trousers.
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      Jun 6 2011: i understand what you are saying, but i am being realistic. forget about morality for just a second and think about the practical and economic points here.

      at the minute most harmful drugs, are illegal and we are spending an ansaly large sum of money annually across the globe in enforcing it and the fact is, it is not working.
      as for banning nicotine and alcohol, they are too entrenched into our social lives now after centuries of indulging and now it is absolutely irreversible.

      do you not at all feel even the slightest that it would be in the best interests for the greater community that the money squandered on the drug users to let people make their own minds up about what they want to do to themselves? why does there need to be complete control? we are all humans, all individuals. the more rules there are the more rules will be broken.

      i am not in favor of drugs at all but i do feel that the current situation can not continue.
      people should be helped not punished. police time and money should go into the major traffickers not the small time street corner yob. the police could then get back to doing real police work and making community's feel safer.
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    Jun 4 2011: My questions are: first what do you mean by legalising drugs? Does it mean make it legal to use drugs? Produce drugs? Sell drugs? Or all of the above? And the second question is what good can come out of legalising druges in any of the above forms? What are the arguments for legalising drugs in any way? What good can come out of it?
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      Jun 6 2011: its completely open for debate.

      i feel the major traffickers should be targeted and the drug users helped not punished.

      what good? probably none. but what is the lesser of the two evils? whats happening at the minute is not working. so, a radical reform might be the only alternative.
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        Jun 18 2011: I am with you when you say that trafficers should be targeted rather than the heavy users. I do agree that heavy users should be treated instead of punished, however the practical implications regarding legalising use will be a increase in the general use. I do belive the fact that it is not legal does give a signal to young people making them more skeptical towards drug use.
        Nothing good? Then I can not see how this can be a choice between to different evils...
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      Jun 6 2011: "What good can come out of it?"
      Have you ever listen to The beetles, Mile Davis, or any of the other many musicians that used performance enhancing substances. How about literature. Huxley, used psychedelics, Poe enjoyed his laudanum. As for science Carl Sagan smoked cannabis, while Francis Crick used LSD. Both said their substances of choice help them think in ways that they might have not been able to if they abstained. Steve Jobs Also mentions LSD with fondness. This list could go on longer but I think you get the idea. Sure mind altering substances have destroyed many people but give the devil it's due. To say our society has not benefited from drugs is somewhat naive. I'm glad cave men did not ban fire after the first person was burnt. I'm also glad they learned to control it.
      2 of the biggest cause of problems with drugs, beside the creation of a black market, is lack of real education about drugs and the lack of purity of substances. Now education can and should be done regardless of legal status. However without regulation, which can only be done of legal substances, how can anyone be sure their vices aren't cut with poisons. As I type this I can enjoy a glass of bourbon which is bad for me, but at least I can be assured no one has diluted it with antifreeze to bring down the cost of manufacture. Many of our drug problems could be much more benign if we could assure the same level of safety. Take the coca leave which has been chewed for centuries among people of the southern andes. While addictive in a similar way as coffee is, it causes little problems. We ban it so its concentrated down and treated with gasoline. It become unnaturally potent and toxic. This is no different than alcohol during prohibition.

      After 30 years of fighting drug I say give education and regulation a chance.
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      Jun 9 2011: There's also the fact that legalizing the production, distribution and selling of drugs will undercut some illegals organisations' profits, while creating a whole new economic sector : there will be drug factories and shops opening everywhere in the country, professional training on how to safely and responsibly create and distribute drugs, and other secondary businesses (bars or other places where drugs users can be monitored) that will create hundreds and thousands of legal jobs everywhere in the world.