The UK laws on recreational drugs are out of date with the demands of the population. There is an evident hypocrisy of permitting drugs like alcohol and nicotine whilst prohibiting a wide range of clinically proven less harmful and less addictive drugs.
There are several impacts of the blanket prohibition of recreational drugs
Crime. It is recognised by many that prohibition leads to crime. Where there is a market people will break the law to profit from that market. The social experiment of the prohibition of alcohol in the US is a graphic example of how crime is fuelled when the population does not agree with legislation. The very act of prohibition creates and maintains the gang cultures whish are an essential part of the drug supply chain. The removal of drug money from gangs may see the reduction of gang culture. In addition illegal drug money is used to finance terror and revolutionary organisations.
Loss of Tax Revenue. The drug market is a multi-million pound business that does not pay tax. If more recreational drugs were to be legalised, the revenue gained from that market could be used in the same way that revenue gained from the alcohol and nicotine can be used to support the NHS and the Exchequer. Revenue would be available to support the education and treatment of recreational drugs as with alcohol and nicotine.
Quality and Safety. One of the major issues facing customers of the recreational drug market is that they do not know what they are taking. This puts customers at risk of harm due not knowing the active ingredients and to contaminants and materials which are a by-product of manufacture or used to adulterate the drugs. The regulation of a new set of recreational drugs will ensure the quality of the substances and reduce the risks associated with overdose and contraindications.
It is also the case that the illegality of drugs exposes customers to a criminal culture and the risks associated with that.
Freedom of Choice. The current blanket prohibition is an infringement on the right of people to make an informed choice as to how they choose to enjoy life. People are, in effect, forced to choose between two of the most deadly and addictive drugs available rather than other less clinically harmful drugs.
Credibility. The government has lost credibility over the issue of prohibition of drugs. The issue, for example, of the banning of “Meow” without evidence to show substantial harm and the associated resignation of experts undermines the credibility of the government.
Why is this idea important?
The regulation of a new set of recreational substances to join the ranks of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine etc. will have the benefit of
Removing the risk of criminalisation of otherwise law abiding citizens and the trauma and stigma associated with such criminalisation.
Removing the source of funding used by gang culture to maintain control and fear over sections of the population.
Credible drugs education policies.
The improved safety of the recreational drug using customer base.
The capture of lost tax revenue.
Increased freedom of choice