A recent BBC story about buying drugs online ended up showing just how far we still have to go to sort out our drug laws, which look increasingly impractical and out of date.
The BBC investigated the ease with which illegal drugs can be bought online, and delivered to your doorstep by buying MDMA on the Dark Web - the encrypted network that anyone can access anonymously by downloading the “Tor Browser” to their computer.
Reportedly millions of pounds of drugs are purchased online every day on the Dark Web, where because of Internet traffic being sent through a worldwide volunteer network of over seven thousand relays, a user’s location and usage is completely anonymous.
The BBC contacted the Royal Mail, who duly replied that it “does not knowingly carry any illegal items in its network” (as it would). But the same BBC journalists spoke to delivery staff who reported that they “definitely handled suspect packages” but that “there was nothing that they could do”.
And this is the issue. How can the Government ever possibly hope to enforce the prohibition of many substances, when to millions across the Globe, they are just a few clicks away? One might argue that the Government should search suspect packages, but then you are treading a fine line between supposedly acting in the public’s best interest, and straight up violating their privacy.
Besides, surely the sheer volume of post that is shifted everyday would render such a measure totally impractical?
The Home Office has recently announced that it will be spending £1.9 million to boost their understanding around how crime networks “adapt and diversify” using technology. But rather than simply throw money about the problem, should we not seek to take a more holistic approach rather than one that will continue to see public safety compromised?
Each time someone buys illegal drugs on the dark web, the money that they spend goes into the hands of criminals. Often filling the coffers of organized crime networks that get up to some very dastardly deeds indeed. Were the Government to decide to liberalize Drug laws, not only would money fall into the pockets of legitimate law abiding people, but a revenue stream could be created through taxation.
Further, the substances bought would be regulated, to reduce harm to drug users as presently, occasionally drugs are made up of more than just what dealers say.
If technology now means that users can buy illegal substances more easily than ever anyways, why bother trying to enforce such strict prohibition?
Law liberalization, and subsequent regulation would make streets, homes and individuals safer, at no cost to the taxpayer. And the BBC have made obvious the already obvious fact that in the modern world, prohibiting drugs is harder, and will continue to be harder than ever.