Today I have been doing some research on drug policy, specifically, legalization but also decriminalization. I was looking to see if my current views fit the evidence, and it turned out that they did. In fact, I now hold my views even stronger (because I have more evidence to support them).
Instead of writing an essay/blog post arguing the case, it seems to me that it will be easier to just link to the various pieces of text that I read/saw. They, themselves, make the case for me and I need not write material that is unnecessary. I may, however, do a write-up in danish in the future seeing as relatively few of these texts are in danish, and the fact that many people do not want to read lengthy english texts.
The best place to start virtually any research is (english) Wikipedia, and so I did. I was reading up on Portugal (because I watched the film The Mission and it has some historical events in it connected with Portugal) and stumbled upon an article on Wiki about the drug policy of Portugal. I had previously read a bit about it but wanted to know more.
I clicked around various articles and found a very interesting article about drug liberalization around the world. I had heard that Holland was pretty liberal on that front (which turned out to be wrong, legally speaking and also increasing in both practice and in legislation), but I never heard that Argentina was so liberal. Recently their supreme court ruled that “adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state”. That’s good to hear even if a tad too literalistic for my taste (I support taxes on harmful activities to pay the medical bill for those that end up getting harmed by them).
Then I learned about the Global Commission on Drug Policy who had written a report on drug policies around the world. Here is their executive summary:
“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed. Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.”
I am not sure how it could be said more clearly; the current policy in the US and similar policies are HOPELESS and TERRIBLE. I strongly recommend reading the whole report, it is not long, 24 pages.
Perhaps after reading some or all of the links I post here, you would want to join or support some organization that lobbies for better drug policies. You can find some here:
I have already donated money to one organization because, among other things, that it has a very nice justification of its policy recommendations (it is the best essay detailing the justification for legalization of drugs that I have read so far) and is very serious in its approach.
For a shorter article making many of the same points, see a recent article in The Guardian.
And finally, in case you really don’t like reading, there is a documentary on the issue here: