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Make Drugs Legal??

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Altfish
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Joined: March 26th, 2012, 8:46 am

Make Drugs Legal??

#1 Postby Altfish » December 16th, 2014, 8:33 pm

I have long thought that if we legalised all drugs, taxed them and sold them at chemists(?)
It would be win-win for the government; you'd free the police up because vast amount of their time is wasted on drugs and drug related crime. The tax take would be great too. If there was control over the sale of these drugs you could monitor addicts too.

Anyway, Russell Brand believes similar too...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... -drugs-war

I struggle with Brand but he spoke a lot of sense on here.

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Dave B
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#2 Postby Dave B » December 16th, 2014, 9:28 pm

Altfish wrote:I have long thought that if we legalised all drugs, taxed them and sold them at chemists(?)
It would be win-win for the government; you'd free the police up because vast amount of their time is wasted on drugs and drug related crime. The tax take would be great too. If there was control over the sale of these drugs you could monitor addicts too.

Anyway, Russell Brand believes similar too...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... -drugs-war

I struggle with Brand but he spoke a lot of sense on here.
This was a subject we had to team-debate at college. I was the "spokesman" for the anti-legalisation spokesman. Can't remember all the arguments now but a bit of research seemed to indicate that lots might be saved in some areas but the NHS at least would need a larger budget to cope with the accidents and even crimes of violence that free drug availability might cause.

Alcohol and fags cost us hundreds of millions every year in primary and secondary causes of ill health. Most "recreational" drugs have a far stronger and immediate addition quotient than either fags or booze. Marijuana is possibly the least problem here but has possible long term mental problems for younger people.

We would have more people who would be required not to drive or operate dangerous machinery, perhaps also having problems thinking in a coherent way. Yes, booze does the same thing but drugs are more portable and easily taken when any crave hits. Popping a pill is a lot less overt than tipping a bottle.

There are problems with 16 yos buying fags for under 16s and ditto 18 yos booze for under 18s. My final comment in the debate was something like, "Do we really want to add more chemical addiction, with its known health and financial consequences, to the current costs of tobacco and alcohol to the nation?"

The final vote was the reverse of the starting one, the motion to legalise drugs failed.

After I gave up fags (of course) I was glad that the high tax on fags and booze went at least part of the way to balancing the costs to the national kitty - but have never explored this fully. After all at least 50% of my heart attack could be put down to my smoking so I was part of those costs (still am).
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Altfish
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#3 Postby Altfish » December 16th, 2014, 9:49 pm

What about criminalising of drug addicts? Does that help?

If drugs are legalised does usage rise greatly? Evidence does not support a significant rise following the soft drug legalisation in various US states. It is early days I know. Similar in Portugal there has been an insignificant increase in usage.
So factoring in additional costs from accidents, medical care, etc. may not be sound.
Was a reduction in policing costs factored in? Savings in prison spaces? Savings on house insurance premiums?
Doesn't decriminalisation make control of 'hard' drugs easier and make treatment of the users more likely?

The likes of the Taliban and Isis are largely funded by drugs; organised crime revels in them. Were these factored into the costs/savings?

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getreal
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#4 Postby getreal » December 16th, 2014, 9:53 pm

Dave B wrote:. is was a subject we had to team-debate at college. I was the "spokesman" for the anti-legalisation spokesman. Can't remember all the arguments now but a bit of research seemed to indicate that lots might be saved in some areas but the NHS at least would need a larger budget to cope with the accidents and even crimes of violence that free drug availability might cause.

You are assuming more people will use drugs if they are legalised. There is no evidence to back this up.

Dave B wrote:. Alcohol and fags cost us hundreds of millions every year in primary and secondary causes of ill health. Most "recreational" drugs have a far stronger and immediate addition quotient than either fags or booze. Marijuana is possibly the least problem here but has possible long term mental problems for younger people.

The so called link between cannabis use and mental health problems has not been established. Also, you are assuming more people wil use drugs.......

Dave B wrote:. We would have more people who would be required not to drive or operate dangerous machinery, perhaps also having problems thinking in a coherent way. Yes, booze does the same thing but drugs are more portable and easily taken when any crave hits. Popping a pill is a lot less overt than tipping a bottle.


In all likely hood there would be no increase in people operating machinery, or driving while under the influence do legal drugs.
Most recreational drugs do not produce cravings. By far the vast majority of currently illegal drug use are drugs like Exctacy and amphetamine which are used at weekends and parties. The figures for usage are currently phenomenal.

Dave B wrote:. There are problems with 16 yos buying fags for under 16s and ditto 18 yos booze for under 18s. My final comment in the debate was something like, "Do we really want to add more chemical addiction, with its known health and financial consequences, to the current costs of tobacco and alcohol to the nation?"

The final vote was the reverse of the starting one, the motion to legalise drugs failed.

After I gave up fags (of course) I was glad that the high tax on fags and booze went at least part of the way to balancing the costs to the national kitty - but have never explored this fully. After all at least 50% of my heart attack could be put down to my smoking so I was part of those costs (still am).


He number of extremely dangerous "legal" highs currently on the street are really high. As each is added to the never ending list of illegal drugs, the manufacturers merely make a small alteration to the chemical composition. It is never ending.


Sorry. Cross posted with Altfish
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Fia
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#5 Postby Fia » December 16th, 2014, 10:16 pm

(crossposting, but like what getreal is saying)

I too have long thought this is a no-brainer.

Because some drugs are illegal - unlike alcohol, tobacco, caffeine - those who use and supply are beholden to the black market. So organised crime - like the mafia - can supply and cut with whatever's cheap, making a killing in all senses. Many recreational drug users find this their only illegal activity which undermines respect for the police. The police spend far too much time on this, particularly with an addictive class A drug requiring hundreds of pounds a month to service with stuff cut with goodness knows what.

I had a client who was medically addicted to diamorphine having been given -in hospital- too much over too long a period of time. I collected his meds weekly for years: including the pharmaceutically pure heroin. He lived a very good life until other, unrelated factors, caused his death. Had he had to buy heroin there is no way he would have lived as long and well.

Therefore I am convinced that what is needed is governmental control. This is the only instance I could happily type that sentence. Make it clean, available and tax it. A no-brainer.

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Alan H
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#6 Postby Alan H » December 16th, 2014, 10:52 pm

I've not looked at David Nutt's site, but DrugScience has extensive information on different drugs, their impact and the laws in very many countries.
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Tetenterre
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#7 Postby Tetenterre » December 17th, 2014, 10:04 am

I have long supported decriminalisation of recreational drugs. I have never met anyone who wanted to used illegal drugs but who chose not to because they were illegal; those who want to use them tend to do so. It is blatantly obvious that anti-drug legislation is unsuccessful. If the aim of legislation is (as I think it should be in this case) public health, not retribution against the user, then decriminalisation is the obvious sensible route for the reasons that Altfish, Getreal and Fia have already given.

(Haven't listened to Brand - the man irritates me beyond endurance.)
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Dave B
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#8 Postby Dave B » December 17th, 2014, 10:15 am

Altfish wrote:What about criminalising of drug addicts? Does that help?
There I will agree with you, people should not be criminalised for being addicts. Should they commit crimes to support their habit, however, it is a very different thing. I am currently watching a family, ex-friends of a friend ("ex-friends" because they cannot cope with what they see as the shame and have cut themselves off from others) being "dismantled" by this very problem.

I don't know the economics of this, how much fixes cost etc., but the "harder" drugs seem to suffer from this problem at least anecdotally.

I will agree that if any drug should be legalised it should be cannabis, I did say that there was a possible connection between this and mental illness but that alone should be sorted out conclusively before it was legalised.

The supplier aspect is an interesting and complex one - could end up like tobacco these days. That's legal and incurs rules and taxes, legalised drugs would do the same so there would always be a channel for illegal import and black-market sales. The criminal level may reduce but will it disappear entirely?

Not sure whether it applies here but I have noticed that the people who are very keen to promote the legal sale of recreational drugs are mostly current users themselves. The few people that I have met who are on hard drugs absolutely hate what it does to them and really do want to be clean*. I am concerned that greater, legal, access may mean more people having serious problems and I do not think that any licensing or permit system will work, the criminals will short circuit it.

Perhaps I am wrong but my experiences of human nature make me feel that legalisation would not cure all the problems drugs create.

*I had a taste of this because I hated what tobacco was doing to me but it took an actual threat to my life to make me give up.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Altfish
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#9 Postby Altfish » December 18th, 2014, 10:11 pm


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Dave B
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#10 Postby Dave B » December 19th, 2014, 9:38 am

Altfish wrote:Interesting YouTube video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KapZrfHa_YI
I can agree with the phenomena that making something legal reduces its "attractiveness" to kids.

But this is the short term result, I wonder what the picture will be in tern years when the novelty of legalisation has worn off.

Actually I am going to have to say that in the past year I have seen less of the local school kids, of about 13 - 15, walking along the road smoking openly. Not sure if this is possibly due to the change of our local school status/ethos to academy and some subsequent tightening of discipline. I have heard little lately about drug abuse/dealing at the school, it was once a growing problem.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#11 Postby Alan H » December 19th, 2014, 10:27 am

Dave B wrote:Actually I am going to have to say that in the past year I have seen less of the local school kids, of about 13 - 15, walking along the road smoking openly. Not sure if this is possibly due to the change of our local school status/ethos to academy and some subsequent tightening of discipline. I have heard little lately about drug abuse/dealing at the school, it was once a growing problem.
I think we have to be careful about generalising from (effectively) single observations - as you say, the school may have had a crackdown [sic] once they realised there was a problem. The problem could have arisen because of just a few individuals - whether a student mixing with bad company, or a new drug pusher in the area latching on to students - so resolving the problem may have been straightforward and not necessarily any indication of any general trends.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Make Drugs Legal??

#12 Postby Dave B » December 19th, 2014, 12:29 pm

Alan H wrote:
Dave B wrote:Actually I am going to have to say that in the past year I have seen less of the local school kids, of about 13 - 15, walking along the road smoking openly. Not sure if this is possibly due to the change of our local school status/ethos to academy and some subsequent tightening of discipline. I have heard little lately about drug abuse/dealing at the school, it was once a growing problem.
I think we have to be careful about generalising from (effectively) single observations - as you say, the school may have had a crackdown [sic] once they realised there was a problem. The problem could have arisen because of just a few individuals - whether a student mixing with bad company, or a new drug pusher in the area latching on to students - so resolving the problem may have been straightforward and not necessarily any indication of any general trends.
By memory I would guess that it was about one kid in ten who crossed the road, next to where I live, who would be smoking - more often girls than boys. Haven't seen one smoker in the last year or so. Discipline, school uniform strictly adhered to etc. may have helped but also the more proactive attitude of the school staff as to how the kids behave to and from school. It is in some ways, a shame that it took academy status, with support from the local diocese, to achieve this - but I count it as a positive thing.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015


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