It pays to make all drugs legal

September 11, 2017

Drugs, at least those considered illicit, are something about which I know little.

However, I am aware that they cause considerable societal trouble, but despite the emotive reporting about the impact of those illicit substances and so elevation of their perceived seriousness, they are well down the batting order compared to alcohol, which is legal and broadly accepted.

Any chosen illicit drug could be sourced in Shepparton, it is argued, within an hour.

Rest easy for I have no intention to start the search, or even know where to start.

The illegal drug market is chaotic, dangerous, and frightfully costly in terms of the destruction of human lives, the ruination of families, and through its policing and the stretching of our health services.

Also, despite the implicit promises, those drugs, and alcohol, erase hope.

People turn to drugs for many reasons, among them, to bring some perceived relief to their lives, allowing them to escape, even if only momentarily, from the constant pressure and rigours of our market economy that pits people against each other.

Prohibition doesn’t work, the US realised that when alcohol was banned for 13 years from 1920, and with that prohibition brought only serious societal dislocation.

Rather than declaring certain drugs illicit, we should be removing that declaration and stigma to make all drugs legal and redirect the fantastical amounts spent on policing that illegality to understanding the causes.

So rather than spend what is an absurd sum on policing and using our health system to repair the damage resulting from the intemperate use of substances that are bounding out of control, we should be familiarising ourselves with the reasons people resort to illicit drugs and so treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Illegality has some sort of perverse romantic attraction and the legalisation of drugs would immediately remove the reason for any dangerous dalliance with such a destructive pastime.

I wince every time I see senior police and Border Force officers beating their chests about seizing and so taking off the streets some huge amount of illicit drugs, arguing the seizure will seriously damage the work of those in the drug trade and so, by implication, benefit communities throughout Australia.

However, they overlook the fact that an addict cares nought about their jubilations or justifications as he or she just wants another hit and so if scarcity means the price goes up, so must their various pursuits, illegal or otherwise, to find the needed cash.

Legalising illicit drugs would free up the stupendous amounts of money spent on patching up the social ruptures caused by the substances and allow those monies to be spent on the root causes of why people resort to illicit drugs.

The willingness of thousands to ease the many pains of modernity through drugs, including alcohol, illustrates that we, including many in the Goulburn Valley, are not psychologically, emotionally or intellectually equipped to thrive in a dog-eat-dog, market-driven society.

What do we do?

Redirect the obscene amounts spent on policing illicit drugs and repairing the damaged people, and work our way towards providing a universal basic income, which, research illustrates, is the most effective way to save society money, and lives — regardless of status we just give people money.

Rob McLean is a former News editor.

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