Why the legalisation of all drugs is meaningful – outlook in a liberal drug policy
„Release the hemp, immediately!”, not a pot smoking junkie has demanded this, while he flew intoxicated across a magic forest, but Green politician Hans-Christian Ströbele.
Aims of the drug policy
What is the aim of a ban of drugs? Marlene Mortler, drug representative of the Federal Government, defines them as follows: „Principal purposes of the drug politics are the reduction of the consumption of legal and illegal drugs as well as the avoidance of drug-conditioned and addiction-conditioned problems”. However, the basic law guarantees in article 2: „Every person shall have the right to free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others […]”. Can be deduced from this, that the right to intoxication belongs to a self-determined life? The Federal Constitutional Court denied this question in 1994 in the so-called „Cannabis decision”. The question stays still open: Is the decision compatible with the goal of the drug politics? Kofi Annan (former secretary general of the United Nations) demanded in 2014 a more liberal drug politics: for their purposes of the humanity the health and not the criminal proceedings must be in the foreground. Even the government of the USA explained the „War on drugs” as lost.
Drug policy in Portugal
For over 15 years the law 30/2000 in Portugal marks a liberal drug policy. In the course of that the possession and consumption of drugs to the own consumption is not punishable any more. There is no difference between the so-called hard and soft drugs. Indeed, the possession of drugs is treated furthermore like an administrative offence. Who is caught with more than permits legally, is convicted after criminal law. If a citizen gets caught with own consumption amounts, he must go to a committee, consisting of a lawyer, a social worker and a psychologist. Should a citizen go for the second time to the committee, penalties or place bans can be declared. Besides the citizen gets support and therapy. At the same time, they have developed the social work in deprived areas as well as started education campaigns in schools, colleges and on television. Substitution programmes were introduced for dependent and the therapy offer was improved. In addition, an important step was that „the commission was subordinated to the health ministry and not […] to the Ministry of Justice “. Drug-takers are not treated by the state any more like criminals, but like patients. The Open Society foundation published central components of the law: „Prevention, installation of commission for the avoidance of drug abuse, risk and damage minimisation, treatment of the affected persons as well as health rehabilitation and social reintegration”.
Results in Portugal
The access to the consumers occurs through the decriminalization of drugs better because they must not be afraid any more of the police, explained Goulão. The consequence is „that other drug addicts can help without being an accomplice of criminals”. Besides, the general criminal activity decreased relating to the drug consumption.
Now I would like to demonstrate based on five graphics the success of the liberal drug policy of Portugal.
The lifetime prevalence describes how many people consumed drugs at least once in their life, once within the last year and once within the last month. There appears a light decline and the prevalence of the last year and month are the most reliable indicators.
The second graphics show the lifetime prevalence among people between 15 and 24 years. Here can be registered a decline of the consumption of illegal drugs, this is above all important, because the consumption of drugs by younger people is a bigger threat than for adults.
Graphic three shows the further laws drug-taking has sunk from 45% to 28%.
A central indicator for the success of a drug politics is the number of drug victims. Graphic four shows that the number of the drug victims has drastically sunk. The fifth graphics illustrate the clear decline of HIV and AIDS diagnoses among drug-takers.
These five graphics indicate the success of the decriminalization politics in Portugal and should take the fear of a liberal drug policy.
122 criminal law professors signed a resolution to the representatives of the German Bundestag till November 2013. In this they demanded to check the effectiveness of the drug law. They criticised the worldwide unsuccessful criminal fight of the drug inquiry and drug offer and mark that the Taliban terrorism in Afghanistan is mainly finance through the black market with heroin and hashish. This gigantic black market „generates […] other subsequent criminal activity and [has] destabilising effects on global financial markets just as [on] national economies”. Scientific knowledge prove that the danger of drugs would be mastered „better by health-juridical regulation […] as well as with adequate youth welfare measures”.
Organised crime, black market & results for other countries
The ban of drugs promotes the organised crime and the black market. Wars between drug cartels with many deaths originate from the extreme profits. „Only in Mexico more than 70,000 people have died during the last seven years during the drug war, more than 30,000 people are missed” (2014). Mexico, the Middle East and South America produces a large part of the illegal drugs for the Western civilisation. If all drugs are legal, the gigantic black market disappears and stability can return in these countries.
Control of availability & cleanness
The state of availability and purity of the drugs cannot control with the ban of drugs. Often drug-takers have a normal life and are socially integrated. Drug addicts need help, this is complicated by the illegality of the drugs. The criminal proceedings have negative results for everybody. By state cultivation of drugs, the state can control the purity of the drugs. Drug-takers often die of the bad quality of the black-market drugs, because these are mixed with dangerous substances and the potency is unclear. By the legalisation of drugs, the even more dangerous „designer drugs“ of the market would disappear, because there is no more need for them. Furthermore, an adequate medical care is prevented by the ban of the drugs.
Costs, income & efficiency
The (german) state spends six billion euros every year for the drug policy and only two billion are for the prevention, addiction consultation and low-threshold drug help. These costs are cancelled by a legalisation of all drugs and, in addition, it generates new tax revenue. The hemp association expects with very careful estimations that only with a cannabis legalisation at least 1.4 billion euros per year flow directly into the public purse. Another problem is the overwork of police, justice and prisons. From 276,000 drug offences (2015) are nearly 210,000 consumer’s offences. By a legalisation of drugs up to a certain amount, many trials can be saved. These free capacities at the police and the public prosecutor’s office can be used in other areas.
Clarification and protection of children and young people
The aim of the ban is to prevent the consumption of certain drugs. However, even the UN says that a ban cannot achieve this aim. A ban deters some people, but prevents clarification and increases the health and social damages for people who don’t want to live abstinent. A social discussion about drug-taking is excluded by a tabooing. Young people are not able to talk about their experiences with their parents or teachers. Conscious consumption and protection of children and young people becomes impossible by a ban. In addition, a dealer does not pay attention to the age of the consumer. By a state adjusted market the protection of children and young people can be formed much better.
Danger for the citizen
The arbitrary division of legal and illegal drugs suggests that alcohol and tobacco are not as dangerous as other drugs. However, a study (2010) of Prof. Nutt, Dr. King and Dr. Phillip, comes to the result: „Alcohol is the most injurious drug, still before crack and heroin”.
In 2016 1,333 people died of the direct or indirect results of the consumption of illegal drugs. In comparison with that there were 121,000 tobacco death and 74,000 alcohol death. Youthful experimental behaviour is criminalised and the career of young people are destroyed.
Ethnic minorities are stopped more often by the police with arbitrary controls. Besides, they show a disproportionate part of the prison inmates arrested because of drug offences. In a report from Great Britain it is indicated that white people consume almost the double amount in drugs, as coloured people. But coloured black people are stopped six times more often and controlled than white people. This injustice will be stopped by a legalisation of drugs and an institutional racism will be prevented.
Every person must be self-responsible for what he makes with his body and which drugs he consumes. Above all when he damages nobody then himself.
So far, I presented arguments, why a legalisation of all drugs could be an advantage for all citizens. But I am not for an unregulated legalisation of all drugs, so I show measures which should be introduced parallel with the legalisation. All drugs should be produced in Germany (or your state). Then the state has the control of the purity as well as availability and prevents drug victims by dirty drugs. The youth is suggested by advertisement for drugs (alcohol and tobacco) that it is normal to consume this sort of drugs. Accordingly, we must forbid the advertisement for all drugs. In addition, the public drug consumption must be forbidding (at least partially, e.g., close to schools or playgrounds). Accompanying more elucidation must take place, especially with youngsters and in deprived areas.
Drug-shops and drug licence
After my examination, all drugs should only be allowed to be sold in drug-shops with trained staff. To be able to buy drugs you have to make a „drug licence“. danacquire this licence by successfully completing a test. The drugs can be also arranged according to danger in different ranks. Dangerous drugs should be more difficult to buy and have a higher rank. Through the drug-shops and the „drug licence“ the state has a better access to the consumers and can offer therapies if required.
In 2016 1,333 people died of the direct or indirect results of the consumption of illegal drugs. Plus, there were 121,000 tobacco deaths and 74,000 alcohol deaths. Principal purposes of the drug policy are the reduction of the consumption of legal and illegal drugs as well as the avoidance of drug-conditioned and addiction-conditioned problems. If we compare the aim to the number of the drug victims, we see that this aim is dramatically missed. At the example of Portugal, I have presented you the positive results of a decriminalization of all drugs, among other things like less drug victims, less consumers, less diagnoses of HIV and AIDS among drug-takers. Afterwards I have enumerated many other advantages of a legalisation: Less organised crime, discontinuation of the black-market for drugs and stabilisation of the cultivation countries. The state has the control of availability and purity of the drugs. High income can be generated by taxes, costs to the fight against consumers offences are lost and the efficiency of the police and justice system is improved. Elucidation and protection of children and young people can be more successful by a legalisation of all drugs. Accompanying measures to the regulation are a ban of advertisement for drugs, (partial) ban of public consumption, drug-shops and a drug licence.
Thanks to Chloe for proofreading.