By Garreth Matthews
In the space of one month two senior British figures have advocated the legalisation of recreational drugs for personal use, or at least a ‘regulatory framework around illicit drugs rather than a blanket prohibition’. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore and Nicholas Green QC have separately claimed that this would relieve pressure on the criminal justice system, the police force, and save millions. They claim that many drug related deaths are not from the drug intake itself, but rather, dirty syringes, and the substance being cut with many other chemicals. While this argument may certainly be flawed it raises some interesting points.
Firstly at a time when the coalition government is trying desperately to regain control of the public purse, any change in legislation which could decrease prison numbers, savings millions could be perceived as necessary. I would argue not for the complete legalisation of recreational drugs; rather that sentencing for using these drugs be abolished. Currently the maximum sentence for using class A drugs is seven years, class B five years, and class C two years. Citizens who are caught using such drugs would benefit much more from community programs that teach them the dangers of drug abuse. Why put these ‘offenders’ into jails with career criminals who will influence them and probably re-enter society more dependent than when they left. Furthermore the kind of people who use cocaine are not ‘druggies’ as the media and politicians would have u believe; they are the ‘yuppies’ of Oxbridge; professionals such as, lawyers, bankers, and probably politicians for that matter.
Secondly, purity and safety could be increased under a relaxation of current laws. If cocaine was produced and distributed through more official channels, it would guarantee a safer and purer cut of the substance, therefore reducing the risk of severe adverse affects. Many scientists argue that many cocaine deaths are not caused directly by the cocaine itself but the combination of chemicals it has been mixed with. A move towards legalisation could alleviate this problem.
Of course there are many issues surrounding the long term mental, physical, and social problems ‘caused’ by drugs. But it is worth noting that drugs don’t kill, it’s the way in which people take them that does. After all speed doesn’t kill, it’s the driver’s inability to keep control. After all drink doesn’t kill, it’s the amount and persistence of consumption that does. Current drug laws are outdated, and costing the taxpayer millions. If the coalition were ‘true reformers’ they would do something about it.