Julian Critchley, who used to be the director of the Cabinet Office’s anti-drugs unit, has come out and said that drugs should be legalised. In his opinion, the government’s current policy on drugs and enforcement of the laws has “no significant, lasting impact on the availability, affordability or use of drugs". He argues that, contrary to what many believe, there would not be a large increase in drug use as a result of legalisation and his argument makes sense: “The idea that many people are holding back solely because of a law which they know is already unenforceable is simply ridiculous". He describes the actual effect as similar to what is happening with tobacco. “Tobacco is a legal drug, whose use is declining, and precisely because it is legal, its users are far more amenable to government control, education programmes and taxation than they would be were it illegal."
Which brings me to a point my colleague made a few weeks ago about the black market in which drugs operate. Drugs are big business and a lot of revenue is generated that isn’t counted in the legal economy. Bringing drugs out of the underground and into the open market would provide a boost in GDP and employment, while also reducing the incentive for drug dealers to use theft and violence as tools of enforcement.
Besides bringing the previously diverted funds back into the economy, legalisation restores the citizens’ right to choose for themselves what they deem acceptable to put into their bodies. Thanks to the media and advertising, people are extremely well-informed of the effects of abusing any type of drug, be it marijuana, cocaine, alcohol or tobacco. People should be allowed to use this knowledge to evaluate for themselves what is appropriate.