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Thread: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

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    Senior Member JPreston's Avatar
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    Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Here's an excellent article on drug liberalisation. It's particularly well-written, but doesn't say anything particularly new and I'll assume that we all agree that drug liberalisation is the correct policy to implement with only practicallities to work out (what should be legalised, when, for whom, available where etc).

    What I don't understand is why every mainstream party remains resolutely in favour of prohibition? The victims of drug use whose votes are being courted are surely those who are robbed to support drug users' habits. A politician staunchly in support of prohibition is saying to these people this:

    "Drugs are a scourge on society because drug users commit crimes that hurt people like you. So to help people like you, we will continue a policy that keeps the price of drugs artificially high meaning drug users have to find more money. Furthermore we criminalise drug use itself so that users find it increasingly difficult to find legal employment, so they will increasingly resort to real property crime, committed entirely against people like you. Finally we will continue woefully inadequate public education on the real health risks of drugs - and often complete misinformation - to make sure that your kids continue to be much likely to use illegal drugs than kids in countries with liberal policies such as Portugal and the Nederlands. And despite the fact that the supply of illicit drugs has become the third largest industry on Earth (thanks largely to us artificially increasing prices through prohibition), we will resolutely abstain from applying any tax at all on it, instead surrendering the entire revenues to violent organised international criminals and increasing taxes on hardworking families like you to pay for incarceration of drug users and our futile attempts to reduce drug supply. I trust I can continue to count on your vote...."


    The reason we have a 'war on drugs'(TM) is to fall in line with a decades-old American policy born out of a peculiarly American zeal for puritanical religiousity and authoritarianism. It really shouldn't resonate with educated Europeans at all. So why does it remain universally popular among political parties, and presumably a clear majority of voters as well?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bertrand Russell

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    This article follows up on the excellent work printed a few years earlier:

    http://www.flatearthnews.net/media-f...paganda/heroin

    A lot of reading, but potentially eye-opening.

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    Senior Member SeriousSam's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Its simple really, modern governance is about control and the most effective method is keeping the populous ignorant and in fear of the unknown or "different".

    Anyone with half a brain could tear down the logic behind drug legislation... you only have to use Nicotene as an example; its legal, redily on sale and yet more toxic and addictive than any of the illicit drugs currently available.

    However, the average person doesn't think about or more precisely question what they hear from their "trusted sources of information" and frankly I doubt many can see beyond a "black and white, right and wrong" viewpoint even though nothing in life is that simple. So it is no wonder that political parties use this, peddling lies to further their own ends rather than make things better in the long run.
    If Wisdom is the coordination of "knowledge and experience" and its deliberate use to improve well being then how come "Ignorance is bliss"

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    "Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?"

    Because, IMHO, liberalisation isn't the "ideal" resolution, it's just the best, pragmatic compromise. It has one major problem, though .... most societies are based on the notion that "society" (i.e. those in power) get to decide what we can and can't do, and they get to enforce it, because "society" says so.

    Drug liberalisation as a policy is, at best, an acknowledgement that those powers that want to tell us how to live our lives have, at least in that regard, failed, and that the war on drugs is a war that they can't, and probably never ever ill be able to win.

    On an individual level, politicians are afraid that it'll be electorally unpopular to admit they can't win the battle against drug use, so each individual politician (or nearly all of them anyway) works on the self-interested basis of not sticking their head above the parapet meaning it's less likely to get shot off. Any pol that endorses drug liberalisation is worried (probably correctly) that his opponents will shove that attitude right back in his face come the next election .... and equally worried (though I'm not so sure it's true) that the electorate will punish him/her for it.

    My attitude, personally, is that if someone wants to do drugs, then providing (and it's a fairly big caveat) that they do no harm to others, then it's their body to abuse if they wish. The problem is , of course, when that "abuse" ends up the problem of the health service .... but treating drug related problems is, surely, no different from treating smoking-related ones or, for instance, lifestyle related ones due to obesity, etc.

    And the other big problem, as you already referred to, is crime driven by drugs, for the purposes of getting money to feed the habit. If you liberalise, at least to a point, drug usage, you should be able to take the profit motive out of drug supply, thereby demotivating the criminal element, and at the same time, remove the need for vast amounts of "petty" crime (burglary, shoplifting, street robberies and [though much less than it used to be] minor car crime).

    Politicians at an individual level don't seem to be willing to say that for fear of losing elections (though if the result was vast reductions in crime, I don't think they would), and politicians as a class don't (IMHO) seem willing to acknowledge that they can't win this fight.

    IMHO, liberalisation done right would not only benefit society by reducing crime. That reduces the trauma to citizens, reduces the load on the police and would also reduce the load on overcrowded prisons. It also benefits the drug user, in getting less dangerous supplies, and reducing the motivation for risky behaviour like petty crime, prostitution, etc., and makes the chances of those that want help stopping better. All told, it looks like a win-win .... but good luck getting any mainstream pol to say it, even if they do privately see it.

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    After they have legalised drugs, then what? Put tax on them like they do to cigarettes, and then increase the tax every year until it’s too expensive? I can’t figure out how the model would look like, would soft-core drugs be legalised, would you pay more tax for hardcore drugs?

    Lets not forget drug users are the problem, the dealers are simply running a business, be it an illegal one, the users are the ones out there stealing and committing crimes to feed their habit and legalising it wont stop the fiends from committing crimes.

    Having lived on a council estate in Brixton for 10 years I got to see first hand what its like, how these crack houses operate, how drug users roam around mindless all day doing nothing. There were 3 crack houses on my very large estate, which has now been demolished, everyone knew about these houses but during my 10 years of living there these houses were only ever raided twice.

    I was a victim of a crack addict who broke into my house while my family were inside with the bloody lights on! When someone is high on drugs they can be capable of any stupid crime, when the police finally caught him about 10 minutes later, hiding under a stairwell, he was so high he didn’t know what was going on, they couldn’t interview him until 2 days later after his system was clear.

    There is no simple answer; to think legalising drugs would reduce real crime by a significant margin is silly, all it will do is improve the numbers on a meaningless piece of paper - less arrests for possession and use of drugs. The only benefit is it will free up police time to work on other cases.

    I’m not against legalisation, but it has to be done right. One of the ways I could see it working would be if a majority of countries legalised drugs, it would have a fundamental impact on the drug trade, it would also raise questions about who would be producing the legalised drugs, would we have some sort of cartel, or what? It’s not unusual for criminals to turn into businessmen, but ethically knowing they are responsible for the murders of thousands of people - can we honestly deal with murderers?

    It’s a similar thing with the Diamonds and the De Beers cartel, we know they are scum but they control the market.

    Meh, its complicated.

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    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    ....and for ever crackhead breaking into a home, there is a drunk driver potentially killing pedestrians.

    Why is one drug ok to legalise and the other isn't?

    I come from a background of having a lot of contact with drugs from a very early age, yet was fortunate enough to know the line between "fair use" and stupidity and always knew where the line was.

    I myself would never want to see crack cocaine legalised, nor heroin (plus a few other lesser-known drugs)....but there are a few I really would like to see legalised and see very little downside to doing so.

    People normally jump on the worst-case scenario.....i.e. the smackhead......How many stoners have you heard of taking part in burgleries or gang violence? How many ravers, off their heads on MDMA, have you seen do those things?

    If I was to be brutally honest, alcohol should be banned and canabis, MDMA and LSD should be legalised. The amount of violence and theft related crimes would take a nose-dive IMHO......well at least until the turf wars over illegal alcohol started......which (again, IMO) would make today drug wars seem like childs play.
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    Senior Member usxhe190's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Who knows - maybe because we already have an alocholic society? It's not really the drug but the culture and the people.

    Also agreed on DeludedGuy's post.

    It is not a simple solution since it is the people not the drugs and we are trying to control people's behaviour via drug control.

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Thanks for your points shaithis, I agree with most of what you said but comparing alcohol to drugs is like comparing a bicycle with a Ferrari. There are various types of drugs and depending on the desired effect you are wanting (uppers, downers etc..,), you have to take a specific drug to gain that effect; you can not do that with alcohol.

    Alcohol depends mostly on the person and how much they consume, some people get drunk and become violent, the majority consume and have a laugh, I am not saying you can’t have a laugh with drugs; you just have to take the right drug.

    It is true there is a lot of crime because of alcohol, mostly violent and disorderly behaviour, but if there were the same amount of drug users as there are alcohol I am not convinced that drug users would cause less criminal activity.

    The fact is, some hardcore drugs should never and will never be legalised, meaning drug gangs and dealers will always exist.

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    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    I like to have the opinion that if the softer drugs were freely available, a lot less people would get into hard drugs. Thus, potentially making crack/heroin a thing on the past. (There is a lot of evidence of the link from soft to hard drugs, mainly down to them coming from the same supplier)

    That may be as far fetched as a politician thinking he can win the war on drugs though.

    But there is only 1 way to find out.....
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    Senior Member usxhe190's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    "I like to have the opinion that if the softer drugs were freely available, a lot less people would get into hard drugs."

    That is a big assumption. It depends on the person.

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    ALL drugs should be decriminalised.
    SOME should, IMO, be legalised.
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeludedGuy View Post
    Thanks for your points shaithis, I agree with most of what you said but comparing alcohol to drugs is like comparing a bicycle with a Ferrari. There are various types of drugs and depending on the desired effect you are wanting (uppers, downers etc..,), you have to take a specific drug to gain that effect; you can not do that with alcohol.

    Alcohol depends mostly on the person and how much they consume, some people get drunk and become violent, the majority consume and have a laugh, I am not saying you can’t have a laugh with drugs; you just have to take the right drug.

    It is true there is a lot of crime because of alcohol, mostly violent and disorderly behaviour, but if there were the same amount of drug users as there are alcohol I am not convinced that drug users would cause less criminal activity.

    The fact is, some hardcore drugs should never and will never be legalised, meaning drug gangs and dealers will always exist.
    You seem to labouring under the misconception that everyone responds to an illicit drug in the same way and that alcohol is different but this is definately not the case. It is all down to the indidual, their mood and a host of other factors. For example some people get aggressive on cocaine and others just euphoric. Furthermore alcohol is a drug and so it can be compared to other things like cocaine or amphetamines, it alters your brain functions just as any of the others do. In the end their purpose is pretty much the same, to take people out of themselves and give some respite from the world they live in.

    Until people realise that there is no difference, between legal drugs and ilicit ones, other than their generalised effect then no rational debate can be had on the subject. In fact recent studies have shown that there is just as big a problem of dependancy for prescription medication as "hard drugs". You only have to look at the states to see the hypocracy pertaining to drug consumption; just because a doctor describes you "medication" then there is nothing wrong with it... but heaven forbid you should smake a joint now and again, that makes you into public enemy number one.

    As for criminal behaviour then thats a more difficult thing to predict in terms of what effect legalising would have. Some like canabis are by their nature not the sort of thing that would increase violent behaviour but if say heroin was taxed and more expensive then those that are dependant would probably have to fund their habit with more crime. It is herein that the conundrum of drugs lies, as we have falsely devided drugs into two categories rather than assessing them on their individual characteristics. To compound this the public have been purposely missled as to this fact in order to further reinforce these politically expedient definitions. Therefore is wholly impossible to separate the issue into (a) the indivdual drugs and (b) organised crime that profits from sale of ilegal drugs. Despite the fact that the biggest drug dealer is the government with their tacit accepetance and indeed promotion of "legal" drugs such as alcohol and nicotene by profiting from them by tax as well as allowing advertise ment in the case of alcohol.
    If Wisdom is the coordination of "knowledge and experience" and its deliberate use to improve well being then how come "Ignorance is bliss"

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    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    I've been arguing that the 'war on drugs' is a fool's errand for 10 years.

    Right now I'm smashed on a legal drug- Alcohol- so I'll come back and argue a bit more when I'm sober.

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    I think legalisation would solve a lot of the problems associated with drug ab/use. But I think the sticking point is the belief that the law is protecting us from something harmful, and any change in that status quo would be taken as some kind of approval of all drug taking and would make the educational message even harder than it is - we already have a massive problem with legal alcohol and people do ask why it's still legal if it's so harmful.. the same thing would be asked of drugs as well.

    It's interesting to see which way it'll go, but at the moment I feel that the law is less and less a measure by which people determine what is right and wrong (just what they can get away with). If that relationship breaks down much further then they might not have the problem of implied approval and govt. would be free to legalise to solve some of the practical problems.

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    Senior Member JPreston's Avatar
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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    Come on folks, this thread isn't asking whether or not liberalisation to some or other extent is a better policy. We are all (hopefully) intelligent adults so that is a given...an individual might oppose prohibition on purely practical grounds, or for ideological reasons (My body is my own so on what grounds does the state dictate which chemicals I put into it? There are wild, native mushrooms growing in my lawn that it is illegal for me to pick and this situation is absurd. If drugs must be outlawed because of the cost to the NHS of treating their harmful effects why is there no law against drinking bleach? Why is tobacco legal? And so on). Hearing someone try argue in favour of prohibition (there is no coherent argument to be made) is a bit like when your grandad casually says something extremely racist over xmas dinner - you might go "mm" and nod absent-mindedly but everyone at the table knows those days have passed, we're a little more enlightened now.

    There are practicalities to be worked out - I personally don't think heroin should be available in every newsagent, but why not have specifically trained and licensed vendors of pfizer-manufactured vacuum-packed MDMA in nightclubs? And so on. But as a society, before we can even begin to consider such practalities, we have to start moving in that direction. So why can't any political party advocate even the first single step towards liberalisation? Why can't any of them make it a policy to so much as decriminalise cannabis alone, or downgrade MDMA from Class A*?

    It can't just be the Daily Mail, I don't believe as a nation we are so socially conservative and authoritarian that a majority oppose liberalisation, I don't believe the conspiracy theories that the govt knows the economy would collapse if we all contentedly sat around baking brownies instead of chasing the consumerist dream (of course, experience shows that consumption falls after liberalisation as opposed to everyone in the country becoming too mashed to function at all). Drug liberalisation (done right) is just a question of personal choice...so why is the whole issue such a hot potato?


    *this is so glaringly appropriate that I wouldn't be too surprised if someone posts a link to some paragraph hidden away on the LibDem website saying that they might consider this. But OK then, for all the millions of ecstasy users in the country who currently are criminalised and forced to take illicitly bought pills with unknown ingredients why aren't they SHOUTING about it? The bloody tories are harping on about legalising fox hunting loudly enough, how many people does that affect in comparison?!?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bertrand Russell

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    Re: Why is drug liberalisation so hard to sell politically?

    If we legalised all drugs.

    Should we still have harsher penalities for acts of public disorder that are performed by someone who isn't sober?

    I still think that anyone who drink drives should be given an instant ban for at least 5 years. Then again, having seen a 6 year old boy loose his farther, by a drunk driver who pleeded in court that he'd only had 3 pints of larger, mabye i'm a bit over zelous against that.
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