With the revelation that undercover reporters found traces of cocaine in NINE different toilets in UK Parliament is it time that we just accept drugs as an inevitable human vice and be done with pointless prohibition?
The irony couldn’t be greater. The very building where Britain’s lawmakers and politicians uphold the drug laws, copious amounts of drugs are being consumed.
While no one politician can be accused, it would be naïve to think only low level staffers are the ones snorting the white stuff. Cocaine is synonymous with the high-powered and stressful lifestyle; that’s why it’s so popular on Wall Street, and no doubt in the City as well.
It would also be naïve to think this could be going on in multiple toilets all over the commons without a significant amount of people turning a blind eye. In that respect is it fair to charge citizens with a crime when those in power or around power are getting away with it?
It’s similar to the case of US President Barack Obama. A man who admits to smoking pot and consuming “a bit of blow” in his time, while America’s jails are overcrowded with young black men who did the same, but weren’t as fortunate as the serial flip-flopper when they were growing up. The legalization and decriminalization movement are particularly angered with Obama, who campaigned on a more sensible drug policy – specifically on medical marijuana – but ended up doing a complete 180, cracking down at the Federal level, even in states that recognize its benefits.
The thing with “drugs” is that although some heavy users can mess up their lives it is not a violent act that inherently infringes on others. Depending on the drug (illogical drug classifications are a debate for a different day) there are millions of people that happily use them responsibly with no measurable impact on anybody else but themselves. Those who do become addicted and infringe on others, were obviously not deterred by the law.
The vast majority of drug related crime is a direct result of illegality. And this isn’t some superficial statistical argument that if you make something legal then it’s not illegal and we can cross it off the record books. Illegality causes a number of undesirable factors, such as…
The artificially inflated price leading users in to petty crime to fund their habit. Gang violence over turf. The potentially dangerous process of having to meet with criminals to score. The deadly issue of a poorly cut product. Nowhere to go and be safe during the throngs of addiction. This is without mentioning international trafficking gangs and the chain of abuse and murder involved. Like America’s prohibition of alcohol in the 20s, it is drug prohibition that allows crime (especially as an enterprise) to prosper.
Decriminalizing all drugs in terms of possession and legalizing less dangerous drugs like cannabis doesn’t mean we just flip the switch and be done with it. It also means regulating the production and sale (taking it off the streets and making it safe), while educating the public of the dangers, discouraging the use of genuinely harmful drugs, and treating hardcore addicts as patients, not as criminals or a methadone commodity. Hard drug users are mentally ill, no different from alcoholics or manic depressives (in fact they often go hand in hand). Meanwhile recreational drug users are simply exercising what perhaps should be a basic human freedom, to do what you want responsibly with your body, without harming others.
Of course if you drive high, or are influenced by drugs in to carrying out a violent crime, or if you neglect your children etc, there are laws in place to deal with those situations. But it is completely nonsensical to criminalize the the act of drug buying, possessing and taking…because it will happen regardless of the law. It happens around the law makers! It is part of being human.
Perhaps if Parliament would start taking mushrooms or smoke pot, they might actually come to some important realizations about their behaviour.