We agree that we’ve been a little stentorian in our critique of current drug policy. We argue for full legalisation - with certain limitations upon who may partake of course - of all drugs. Not just decriminalisation. Partly on the grounds of simple civil liberty - consenting adults get to do as consenting adults, absent third party harm, wish. But also on the grounds of harm reduction.
The problem, for example, with heroin is not heroin. It’s shared and dirty needles, the brick dust it can be cut with as a result of the illegality, the variable doses as a result of the same illegality, the dealing conducted to afford it as a result of the illegality and - well, it’s the illegality. Someone taking pharmaceutical grade heroin in measured doses with clean gear at the prices of an actual legal and free market isn’t a problem other than the possible wasting of that particular life’s potential.
This is thus good policy:
Heroin addicts are to be given free supplies of the illegal class A drug as the Home Office awards the UK’s first licences for “shooting galleries.”
The controversial move is being led by the police and crime commissioner and doctors in Cleveland who will use medicinal grade heroin in a last-ditch bid to wean “hard-core” addicts off the drug.
Under the Home Office licence approved this month, the addicts will inject themselves up to three times a day supervised by health staff at a centre open seven days a week from the Autumn. Without the licence, anyone caught possessing heroin can be jailed for up to seven years.
There is another reason we know this is good policy, not just that reasoning from first principles. It’s that this is not that far away from what used to be policy. Those decades and decades back addicts used to be prescribed their heroin. As a result there was none of that dealing in order to finance, no attempts to suck in new users in order to gain the customer base off which profits to continue consumption could be gained. The abolition of this system certainly coincided with - we would argue caused - the mass expansion of the addiction problem itself.
We are moralists here in the sense that we think it moral for every adult to carve out their own life according to their own desires - that’s the liberty and freedom thing. But above that we’re pragmatists. What system solves, as best can be done in this complex world, the problem under discussion? Given that the major problem with heroin is the illegality of the drug then legal provision is going to solve it.