Soft drugs are so often discussed as being “gateway” drugs, normalising drug use and so leading to taking harder drugs. The criminal label placed on Britain’s casual drug-taking youth is a “gateway” label. This normalises criminal activity and anti-establishment attitudes among young adults.
According to the figures in the Home Office Study (183) on Drugs and Crime, 72% of “income generating” crime (burglary, shop lifting, mugging) took place to fund drug addiction. De-criminalising drug use and setting up maintenance programs would provide these addicts with a safe, prescribed source of their drug, and remove their need to commit crime to sate their addiction. This will dramatically reduce the cost of income generating crime on society – insurance, policing, prosecution, incarceration. This will also have a stabilising effect on the lives of the addicts and their families.
The main argument against the decriminalisation of drugs has been that this will result in an increase in drug use. We now know that this is not the case, as can be seen with Portugal, who decriminalised drug possession in 2001 (of all our class C, B and class A drugs), and the effect of this policy change on their society.
Portugal since drug decriminalisation:-
Drug use among school children fell from 14.1% to 10.6%
Heroin addiction among 16 – 18 year olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8%
Deaths caused by Class A drugs have more than halved.
People seeking treatment for drug addiction has more than doubled.
Taken from the CATO Institutes white paper – “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal:
Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies” by Glenn Greenwald