Monday, 29 June 2015

Why I agree with the Liberal Democrats on the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use.

Why I agree with the Liberal Democrats on the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use.

In march this year due to an accidental loophole being created in legislation in Irish law; ecstasy and some other drugs became legal for 48 hours. I remember being taught terrifying statistics to scaremonger me as teenager to not try drugs:  “One in three people who try ecstasy will die the first time they use it” and this came to reality during these 48 hours with a rocketing number of drug related deaths in the Republic of Ireland. Just kidding… because you know what actually happened - NO ONE DIED!
Scientific research has indicated that ecstasy or MDMA is one of the least harmful drugs and that in fact Alcohol is the most harmful drug (even more so than Crystal Meth, Crack cocaine and Heroin!). From observing people on MDMA compared to people on alcohol, I find they are far less aggressive and probably far less harmful as a result. MDMA or ecstasy is the “love drug” people are often hugging each other instead of fighting or arguing with each other. I have also witnessed a lot more people being hospitalized whilst drinking rather than being on drugs. The statics regarding how dangerous drugs are are synonymous to my observations:

Deaths Per Year as a percentage of Drug Users.

  1. Alcohol - 40,000 deaths per year (DPY/ 40,000,000 UK users (U) x 100 = 0.1%
  2. Ecstasy/MDMA - 27  DPY/ 500,000 U x 100 = 0.054 %
  3. Heroin - 700 DPY / 300,000 U x 100 = 2.3%
  4. Cocaine - 214 DPY / 780,000 x 100 = 0.027%

  1. Cannabis - 1 DPY / 3,000,000 x 100 = No point in trying to figure out.

I. 20 Drugs Ranked by "Harm to Users" and "Harm to Others"
II. 20 Drugs Ranked by Overall Harm along 16 Criteria

British-peers received the harm of 20 drugs in 2010. They compared "harm to users" including dependence, mortality and mental functioning and "harm to others" such as crime, environmental damage and international damage. The graphs below show the results of the findings. The first chart depicts all 20 drugs by "harm to users” and harm to others”  and the second chart illustrates the drugs of the 16 criteria  from drug-specific mortality to dependence to family adversities

Source: David Nutt, Leslie King, Lawrence Phillips, "Drug Harms in the UK: A Multicriteria Decision Analysis," The Lancet, Nov. 1, 2010

I believe a fair conclusion from the two above pieces of research and statistics that some illegal drugs could drugs could well be argued to be safer than Alcohol. Personally I believe as a result of this finding all illegal drugs should be decriminalized or at least MDMA and Cannabis. It does not make any sense to me that alcohol is legal but yet causes far more problems than other illegal drugs. 

Further Reasons for the Legalization of all drugs for personal use. 

  1. The economy - the economy could largely benefit from the legalization of drugs. Instead of being part of the hidden economy and part of gangstery, the legalization of drugs could provide employment and also be taxed and and the money then reinvested into other aspects of our economy such as education or healthcare. By legalizing  the drugs trade the government would be able to regulate the market and take the trade off gangsters and into citizens.  
  2. Reduce Crime - overcrowding is a major problem with jails in the UK. By decriminalizing drugs the political and criminal justice system could focus on much more serious and immoral crimes than someone who has been unlucky by getting caught taking or dealing drugs. Secondly drug addiction is expensive and as a result addicts often become involved in criminal activity. By legalizing drugs they could become less expensive and the addicts could receive the treatment they need. 
  3. Increasing the war on drugs does not stop demand - In Holland drug usage is much less in comparison to the UK, however the laws against cannabis users are far less harsh. In 1970 there were 9000 convictions or cautions for drug offences and 15% of young people had used an illegal drug. In 1995 the figures were 94 000 and 45%. Prohibition evidently does not work.
  4. To enable better education of drug usage - if drugs were legal children could be educated on how to use drugs sensibly through school and by their parents. Many parents are in denial on whether there child will ever try drugs and have a zero tolerance attitude towards drugs. However statistics have shown that half of 15-16 year old have tried drugs. Thus I do not believe a zero tolerance attitude is appropriate. It would make far more sense to me to guide on sensible usage as to curb the chance of their child ending up in danger. Madonna has admitted she would let her children try drugs, or she wouldn't try and stop them in moderation, she said telling them not to would be "absurd". 
  5. Make all drugs safer - Quite a lot of deaths by drugs have not actually been as result of the drug itself but has been caused by what they have been mixed by. This has been the case of several ecstasy pills  deaths in Northern Ireland - it was not the MDMA that killed them. Further the use of dirty needles by herion users spreads aids. By legalizing heroin ,clean needles could be provided and curb the rate of HIV. 
  6. Stop people being in dangerous situations - sometimes trying to acquire drugs can leave people in dangerous situations. Surely you would prefer your family member or friends to be able to purchase the drug safely whether it be at an off licences or in a club, than have to deal with sometimes gangsters in crime ridden areas. Or would you like your son/daughter to be the unlucky one in a group of friends to get caught purchasing illegal drugs when "everyone else was doing it". 
  7. There is no evidence suggesting prohibition works - through examination of evidence surrounding the war on drugs the costs far outweigh the benefits. I believe people are always going to try drugs out of curiosity so why shouldn't we create a safer way for them to be able to do so whilst benefiting the economy? 
 To conclude, I believe that decriminalization of drug-usage is outdated and not relevant for today's society. I have shown that illegal drugs are arguably less dangerous than alcohol along with showing further reasons to legalize drugs and that legalization could be economically beneficial. 

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