Free Speech: Should all drugs be legalised?
A recent Global Drug Survey found that more Brits have tried cannabis than they have energy drinks, and with one in five young people admitting to taking a ‘mystery white powder’ without knowing what it is, we asked four young writers to answer this question:
Should all drugs be legalised?
Here’s what they had to say…
In a word, NO.
Why do I say this? Well, because if we were to legalise drugs then it would send out the wrong message about them, especially to youngsters.
It seems too much of the focus around education in drugs is more to do with getting off of drugs rather than explaining the crime that goes with addiction or the damage they do to your body. We all know that smoking damages your lungs and that drinking damages your liver but what exactly certain drugs do to our body is not commonly known or more importantly taught at a young age.
Also, young smokers are statistically more likely to try marijuana as the next ‘illegal’ thing to do and I feel that by legalising certain drugs such as marijuana, then other harder illegal substances might become more desirable as the next illegal substance that youngsters want to experiment with.
Despite current legislation prohibiting drugs, drug abuse is a problem, ranging from recreational use to long lasting addictions and underpinning many crimes perpetrated. The question at the epicentre of drug discussions is whether they should be legalised or not. This question hosts many ethical implications and the policies implemented will have significant subsequent impact.
The ultimate factor of consideration is the medical implications of drugs. The legalisation of drugs with higher medical implications is not a good idea, as the initial boom would cause many deaths and is unethical. The legalisation of drugs with fewer medical implications, however, may be beneficial as it makes supply more controlled and would be instrumental in putting an end to illegal drug couriering.
Once such drugs are legalised, people can be educated on their medical implications and after an initial boom in use, people may be deterred from them as it becomes less socially desirable. An example of this is in the decline of cigarette smoking.
I believe that the time is right for discussing legalising drugs, yes it's controversial and distinctions will need to be drawn between different drugs.
If we think about the “producer nations” of the common drugs like cocaine, the brutal truth is horrific.
Headless corpses on the street, bodies swinging from bridges, children shot dead by lawless drug lords - not scenes from horror films but everyday life for people across Latin America.
The drugs trade is one of the most profitable in the world, but because it is illegal, violence is the only means to protect and secure its profit.
It destroys so much of civilian life: it corrupts society, it destroys human rights, and it kills our environment. Entire nations are at the mercy of drug cartels, and this needs to stop.
Legalising and regulating drugs is a radical idea, but it would bring stability to these nations, whilst stopping money being wasted on the drugs war we’ve already lost. It would generate legitimate profit and focus on the health impact and not on criminality.
We have a global responsibility to stop these drug lords. People will never stop using drugs, so we need to legalise, educate, regulate and control.
Different classes of drugs need to be dealt with differently. The UK has the highest rate of young people consuming cannabis. I believe that certain Class B and C drugs, such as cannabis, should be decriminalised.
By making less harmful drugs legal, the government is effectively tightening supervision and control of the consumption of these drugs. It will also make addicts less hesitant to get the help they need to recover, whereas at the moment, they live in fear of being arrested if they come forward. Young people will also be less hesitant to approach an adult if they are feeling bad effects after consuming a drug like cannabis.
Simply arresting these people will not solve the drug problem. Rather than spending money on locking them away in already overcrowded prisons, they could be spending money on rehabilitation services.
It’s a tough call. Where do you stand: should all drugs be legalised?
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These four writers have contributed to publications such as The Guardian, The Ecologist, Time Out London and Live Magazine. If you would like to write a blog piece for Free Speech, e-mail us now with a little hello.
BBC Free Speech will be live from Bristol on Thursday 16th May at 8pm.