Friday, October 30, 2009

Legalise Drugs

[My comment on a thread on LabourList]

I think people should be able to use drugs freely.

I do accept that "high-risk" drugs such as heroin, cocaine and crystal meth can cause massive life disruption, but each of those drugs is much less harmful to an individual if quality is assured, and (in the case of heroin) shooting up rooms are supervised. Much of the harm of drugs comes not from the drugs themselves but from the criminal consequences that would vanish if licensed provision and consumption were available.

Lower risk drugs, such as cannabis, ecstasy, LSD, and ketamine should simply be minimally controlled. As it is now, for example, if you buy weed, you have to take what you get. If you buy pills you have no idea what they are. In Amsterdam and now in much of California you can get expert advice when you buy weed from someone who knows about the effects of each variety. And in the Netherlands the police will test your ecstasy pills for purity.

Why even take drugs at all. You may not like them, but they can all be intensely pleasurable and adult citizens should be able to use their bodies for pleasure without control by the state.

Meanwhile, many of us are dependent on one very strong drug which as few bad effects (i.e. caffeine - safe but a drug nonetheless). Alcohol causes harm, but, to quote Boris Johnson many of us get more from alcohol than alcohol gets from us. Tobacco smoking is clearly bad for you, and it is clear there will be a move to ban it - but I think *people should be free to do what they want when it does not cause immediate harm to others.

Drug users (of all types of drugs) can and do function quite well in society when not persecuted (or when rich enough not to be persecuted). They may die younger, but that is their concern, not the state's.