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In a significant victory against the hugely expensive and massive failure of the war against drugs, initially announced by disgraced president Richard Nixon in 1973, Colorado became the first place in the world to legalise the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes yesterday. Beating the US state of Washington and Uruguay by a few months, it is expected many other states will follow over the coming years.
It was over six years ago I first posted an article on another blog on the subject of legalisation, and almost three since I posted it on this site. Though one article, read by a few thousand people at the very most, cannot take credit for this huge victory, I take some pride in the arguments for legalisation I made at the time, which are now used by many others.
In drawing attention to the social, tax and employment benefits that would accrue through legalisation, set against the huge waste of taxpayers’ money and human resources the war against drugs has cost, I demonstrated it was the war on drugs itself that had become the real problem.
Far from stemming the tide of drug use, the forty years since Nixon’s declaration have seen drug consumption, crime related to drugs, and profits realised from drug crime spiral to unbelievable heights. Money obtained from dealing in massive quantities of drugs has financed terrorism, sex slavery, pornography, and the illegal arms trade, to name but a few. Drug barons have undermined democracy, corrupted law enforcement agencies and been complicit in hundreds of thousands of murders. The vast majority of deaths connected to drugs are caused by crimes associated with industrial scale drug dealing, rather than drug use itself.
But this is just the first battle won in the war. Governments the world over should follow the lead of Colorado. Legalisation is not giving state approval for the use of marijuana, it is a belated recognition of people’s rights to enjoy their free time how they wish, as long as they don’t cause harm to others, instead of criminalising them. More or less in the same way the laws regarding alcohol and tobacco recognise those rights already in most countries.
But it shouldn’t stop there. If governments are serious about taking control of drugs markets away from ruthless international crime syndicates they have to tackle the more thorny subject of decriminalising the use of harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine. This will be far less popular. Nevertheless, proper control, with a view to weaning addicts off their habits and away from the criminals, who exploit them, would have immediate positive effects on a lot of neighbourhoods now riven with drug addicts and drug crime. By reducing the need to steal, or commit other crimes, simply to support out of control habits, previously rundown, urban environments would become safer, and more pleasant places to live.
To read more details with many links to news stories, facts and figures, click onto The Myth Peddlars – the war on drugs has failed.
Happy New Year Colorado!
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Thanks for your valuable input, Shakti, on what is going to become a very hot subject in the coming year.
Though I can understand your concerns, I feel they are overstated.
I’ve done a lot of research on this and recommend you read my other post on the subject: https://bryanhemming.wordpress.com/the-myth-peddlars-the-war-on-drugs-has-failed-4/
What is being attempted may be logical and cost effective. But I apprehend serious downsides.Loss of productivity. Higher health costs. An overall debilitating and parasitic effect on society and environment at large. The list of negatives can go on…..
To me this seems to be escapist decision and really would not support a long term perspective.
An interesting piece, Bryan – and well done with the published articles/arguments.
I find it difficult to accept, the thought of drugged up people wandering about like zombies and that being okay be society/the government YET I recognise I give a very daft representation. Maybe they’d still stay in their houses (!). Oh yes, a bit cheeky.
I really, really don’t know what to say. I am not sure I agree with legalising it, as it’s legalising something harmful – but alcohol is SO harmful, and it’s ridiculous it’s okay for me to get that, and then there’s people who smoke weed but don’t lose themselves, and then there’s those who completely lose themselves and become a burden. I really don’t know what to say, on this topic. I haven’t anything sound to offer. But I always like to hear the arguments, that’s for sure.
A very well argued case- but its unfortunate that it remains politically untenable in most parts of the world
Thank you, and you are absolutely right, as things stand. But, as a fervent idealist and a natural anarchist, I do believe real change is possible.
If you follow the link to The Myth Peddlars – a longer piece on the subject – after reading it, I think a reasoned optimist would see Colorado as the first tidal swell in a seachange.
Most parts of the world, as you describe them, can never be seen as the entire world. But, as I think you would recognise, just because most parts of the world aren’t socialist doesn’t mean that socialism is a lost cause,
The legalisation of drugs is not a political or relgious issue. The legalisation of drugs is an issue about freedom.
Thanks for the link and your reply. There’s a lot to think about.