In the words of Lily Allen, “everyone’s at it”, and questions are being raised as to whether cannabis and other drugs should just be made legal. The law forbidding drug intake has not stopped anyone from doing so, including Toronto mayor Rob Ford who admitted to smoking crack cocaine, and Robbie Williams who has just admitted to smoking cannabis regularly.
Statistics show that in the UK alone: “over 2 million” of the population smoke cannabis, nearly “half a million” take ecstasy or MDMA each weekend, there are more than “one million” habitual users of cocaine, and around “half a million” are addicted to heroine. With some drug users being infamous public figures, it makes us wonder whether drugs should just be made legal, as the war on drugs sees no end, and is everywhere within society.
To some, legalizing drugs is unthinkable. They see it as a gateway to heightening addiction and causing drug gangs to undercut legal supplies in order to retain their grip on trafficking. They argue that people would still import and export drugs to make money, and provide to those who couldn’t afford the high prices input by companies, or to those who wanted a higher dose than permitted by governments.
It also becomes an issue of morality, because drugs would become an object of consumerism. Companies would begin to make large volumes of profit through tax and also business backings. For example, Richard Branson argues for making cannabis legalized. He owns the chain of prestigious Virgin businesses, such as Virgin Atlantic Airways, and is the ‘”fourth richest man in the UK.” This ultimately means that if drugs were legalized, advertising for it would increase. Drugs would become a product to be sold, and although warnings would be promoted for the hazardous effects of excessive consumption, this would probably make little difference. Alcohol companies advise the acceptable amount of units that should be consumed per week, however people continue to binge. Tobacco companies display the harmful effects on cigarette packets, however people continue to smoke.
A study from Washington University by Lee Robins, showed that war veterans used heroin regularly whilst in Southeast Asia, but when they returned, most abandoned the habit, because it was less available and the “sanctions” on usage were “more pronounced.” Therefore would drugs being more readily available make drug-use worse?
Contrastingly, there is a steady increase of people who believe that cannabis and other drugs should be made legal. They claim that legalization is the best way to take organised crime out the supply chain, and also save billions of pounds in policing costs.
In 2008, the UN’s Executive director from the office on Drugs and Crime, admitted that the prohibition-based drug control system had created the second largest criminal market, and to input this system, it was costing $320 billion each year. He went on to state that it had overtaken the health policy with enforcement, caused “the balloon effect,” which had not managed to eliminate drug trade, but rather spin it cyclically around the world, and also created an environment where drug users are unfairly categorized under stereotypes and discriminated against.
Prohibition has also contributed to the spreading of HIV throughout the world, and undermined the governance of nations. Mexico has been witness to more than 20,000 deaths because of drug-related turf wars in the past four years, and Columbia and Afghanistan continue to rely on the production of opium and coca, which has not faltered for decades.
Drug-use is universal, from celebrities, to politicians, to mayors, to the homeless. People continue to use and sell drugs daily, on an extremely large scale. It seems that drugs being illegal is stopping no one from being involved with them, so the question arises, should cannabis and other drugs just be made legal?
By Melissa McDonald