The War on Drugs Isn’t Working

This article is from Ashley Wilkes, reacting to the recent debate on Drugs Policy.

So recently, Nick Clegg and Julian Huppert called for a royal commission on drugs reform in the UK. It is clear to see that the current drug policy just is not working. The results of the current policy are that drug traffickers and dealers make vast sums of money while the user has to go to desperate lengths to get their hands on drugs that normally affect everyone else in society.

The whole ‘war on drugs’ policy stinks of hypocrisy; while extremely harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco are perfectly legal why are less harmful substances such as cannabis and ecstasy illegal? I’m not arguing for alcohol to be made illegal here but the opposite. I think that cannabis and ecstasy should be fully legalised, as there are much less harmful than substances which are already legal. More harmful substances such as heroin and crack cocaine should be decriminalised so we can treat the user as a patient and not as a criminal, as that is what they need. It’s not only what they need but also what society needs. Society needs people rehabilitated away from drugs; not people locked up so they can stay addicted.

The Liberal Youth campaign on this raised another important point. Wouldn’t it be better if our police officers, who are already stretched thin, could concentrate on serious crimes instead of drug use? The police spend 384,984 hours on the war on drugs. I know I for one would much rather the police catch a murderer than arrest someone for possession of cannabis. But hey, perhaps David Cameron doesn’t see it that way!

Maybe he would see it a different way if he looked at the economic impacts. He and George Osborne tell us that we need to cut, cut, cut. However, he is in favour of wasting millions of pounds on a war on drugs that we are clearly losing. In the last 50 years, over $1 trillion has been spent trying to control drugs. If we could legalise these drugs then we wouldn’t waste this money while actually gaining revenue through the taxation of these drugs.

Finally, as I’m sure I’ve rambled on enough, prohibition does not deter drug users. The Netherlands has one of the most liberal stances on cannabis in Europe allowing it to be sold in ‘coffee shops’ and allowing possession of small amounts. However, they have one of the lowest rates of marijuana use. Furthermore, when in the UK Cannabis was downgraded from a class B to class C drug, the percentage of young people using it fell. Yes, I know correlation does not equal causation and all that jazz but the figures are demonstrating that the users decrease surely this is a good thing.

On this issue at least, I agree with Nick!

Ashley Wilkes is a party member in Lancaster, but originally from Wolverhampton. Ashley is a second year student at Lancaster University, studying Economics and Politics and is President of the Lancaster University Liberal Democrats. You can follow him on twitter @Wilkesy93

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