After the tragic drug related deaths of two men recently, the nightclub Fabric has been forced to temporarily close its doors. Despite the club’s full cooperation with authorities- and its concerted efforts to clampdown on the sale of drugs on its premises- it might be forced to close down permanently.
Such a move would be devastating for London’s nightlife and music scene. Fabric is internationally renowned and attracts visitors from all over the world. It has also helped to launch the careers of world famous musicians and DJ’s. Closing down Fabric would also hurt the economy- it employs 250 people and many people travel to London in order to visit Fabric.
Not only would the forced closure of Fabric destroy the rich cultural tapestry of London and hurt the economy, it would also be incredibly unfair. Fabric is being punished as a result of the free choices of individuals. The club did not sell them the drugs or encourage them to take them- in fact they have tried repeatedly to clamp down on drug use and their staff offer support and advice to those who may have taken them- and yet Fabric is being punished.
The plight of Fabric serves to highlight the absurdity of the UK’s drug laws. People should be treated as free agents and be allowed to put whatever they please into their body without the State harassing them. Drug laws are an affront to individual liberty.
Drug laws are also ineffective and there is a plethora of research that strongly suggests decriminalisation has no real impact on levels of drug use. Furthermore, other studies reveal that decriminalisation has a positive impact, as it reduces the burden on criminal justice systems. Therefore, if decriminalisation would not result in more people consuming harmful substances, and if it would reduce the burden on the justice system, perhaps it is time to seriously consider decriminalisation.
In fact the prohibition of drugs exacerbates the problem as it results in the development of even more dangerous drugs. Crack cocaine and crystal meth, two of the most terribly destructive drugs, came into being as a result of the US government’s attempts to eradicate the supply of less dangerous drugs. Such a clampdown on cannabis led people to legal highs; any further legislation will force the market underground and will hand even more power to criminals, meaning more harmful substances being created and consumed.
Not only are drug laws in the UK and around the world ineffective and cumbersome, they are also inherently unfair and increase inequality. As a result of drug laws, prison populations in the UK and the US have a disproportionately high number of people who are black, young or poor – quite often all three.
Furthermore, drug prohibition hands power and money over to violent and odious criminals. This is particularly true with cannabis, which holds the largest share of the drug market. An example of this is provided by the impact of cannabis legalisation in some American states. As people can now buy cannabis legally, it has reduced the prices that drug dealers are charging. Decriminalisation has had a massive impact on the power and profits of Mexican drug cartels.
The government needs to seriously consider decriminalising drugs. If it did this, it would radically reduce the power of some of the most vile and detestable people around the world, decrease the burden on the already overstretched criminal justice system, and dramatically reduce the number of ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged people in prison.