Legalise Of Recreational Drugs
Drug decriminalisation has been a topic debated for many years, there are many different arguments both advocating and critiquing this idea. This essay will look at the current laws in the UK, contrasted with statistics of other countries such as Portugal, Mexico, the Netherlands and Canada. Exploring the social, economical and possible health benefits.
Worldwide there are varying levels of legalisation, from full legalisation in countries like Portugal or Mexico, part legalisation or harm reduction programmes like Canada or Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Looking at the statistics countries that have full criminalisation have some of the highest drug rates for use and overdose.
In 2001 Portugal made a massive step towards stabilising their opioid crisis, they did this by implementing full decriminalisation for those using and possessing drugs. People who were in possession of illegal drugs or using illegal drugs may ‘be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.’ (theguardian.com, 2017) Portugal has rendered a compassionate new outlook on drug addicts, instead of referring to them as ‘drogados’ which translates to ‘junkies’ they use terms such as “people with addiction disorders” or “people who use drugs.” Over all the
‘The official policy of decriminalisation made it far easier for a broad range of services (health, psychiatry, employment, housing etc) that had been struggling to pool their resources and expertise, to work together more effectively to serve their communities.’ (theguardian.com, 2017)
Portugal have pioneered the total decriminalisation process for drugs, making it nationally understood and respected as an illness. And using compassionate methods to help users and keep them safe. Although the process has not been revered worldwide in 2016 there were only 27 drug related overdoses(Emcdda.europa.eu, 2019), contrasted with the UK at 2953 in 2016.
The Netherlands have had harm reduction processes in place unofficially for over 30 years, with the first professionally staffed supervised injection site in 1970. Although this was the first site and supported by the local community such programs were not made legal until 1996. Mainly these sites reduce the spread of illnesses such as HIV or Hepatitis C, but also by having trained nurses on site, there is someone medically trained and equipped to deal with an overdose if one should occur. In the netherlands younger users are less likely to start with stronger IV drugs such as heroin even though there are safe places to do so, and cannabis
The UK has shocking levels of overdoses, drug use and drug related illnesses. With an estimated £20 billion spent between the year 2015/2016 on drug related crimes, this number accounts for both the social and economic costs. This is due to the high use of drugs both amongst adults (8.5% of adults ages 16 to 59 having taken an illegal drug in the last year) and children (24% of pupils in class having tried drugs)
In conclusion, it is difficult to know whether any form of drug legalisation would help in the UK or worldwide as societal factors affect how humans in a certain environment act. However, looking at the statistics for drug users around the world with either full legalistaion or harm reduction programs there are less cases of HIV or hepatitis being spread and a reduction in drug overdosing. Unfortunately with the UK drug culture being what it is, it is difficult to say for certain whether these would help reduce the issue, but certainly they would make it a safer endeavour. If the UK government were to at least take over production and distribution the revenue from this would eradicate a lot of organised crime and theoretically not only give the government the chance to make money and redistribute the 20million spent on drug related crimes.