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Recently in the Republic of Ireland it was announced that the personal possession of many drugs, including Heroin, Cocaine and Marijuana, is to be decriminalised in the coming months. Many liberals celebrated this as evidence governments in the western world are becoming more progressive with their drugs policy, especially if a country as traditional in its values as the ROI, a country where head shops and abortions are still completely illegal, is willing to start treating drug use as a health and social issue rather than a criminal one. But I disagree. Simply decriminalising drugs shows very little progression when it comes to drug policy. Despite possession of small quantities of illicit drugs still being illegal in the majority of countries around the world, those found with personal quantities of drugs are very rarely prosecuted in the majority of countries around the world, and when they are they are often punished simply with just a small fine or rehab mandate[1]. Decriminalising illicit drugs is also supposed to reduce stigma towards addicts, but this in my eyes will not work. As decriminalisation only makes ‘possession of small quantities’ of drugs legal and not production of distribution of these drugs, drug users will still have to go through the criminal market to gain their drugs, and therefore drug use will still remain a very secretive and taboo activity, upholding the stigma that currently exists towards drug users and addicts. The fact is, decriminalisation makes very little progression in helping drug addicts and users pursue their habit in a safe manner, with the only real change being the ability for drug users to take their drugs in special buildings with clinical booths using clean needles, although with limited government funding for these buildings it is more than likely that these buildings will not be readily available for all drug users at all times.

In my opinion the stigma and danger that is associated with drug use can only be stopped and solved by one thing: legalisation of all drugs. Drug use can be an utterly destructive activity, especially with hard and extremely addictive drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine, but despite this fact there are always going to be humans drawn to participating in drug use, and we have to respect this as a choice made by themselves which they have the freedom to make. There are many things in life which in excess aren’t healthy for our body, such as smoking, eating fast food, drinking alcohol etc. yet all of these are completely legal and we still have the choice of whether to harm our bodies by consuming these items or not. And it should be the same for drugs. The only way we can ever create a safe-as-possible environment for drug use to be used in is through complete legalisation of manufacturing and distributing drugs. By legalising and regulating the manufacturing process, we can make sure the correct ingredients are going into products and that all needles that may be used will be clean. Only though legalising the sale of these safely manufactured products can we regulate properly the environment in which these drugs are taken and that they are bought and used in the safest possible way. By regulating the shops where these drugs are sold you can require clean and hygienic cubicles where these drugs can be consumed, therefore creating an area available for all drug users to safely use drugs without creating significant costs taken from the taxpayer, as these shops would be paying for the cost of these cubicles, rather than the local government, which is what is happening in Ireland with decriminalisation. And the economic savings don’t stop there. Drug manufacturing and distribution could raise a significant amount of public funds through taxation, which would help fund the regulation of drug manufacturing and distribution and much more. It is suggested the legalisation and taxation of just Marijuana could raise £800 million a year[2] [3] in the UK alone. The drug production and distribution industry would also create possibly thousands more jobs, which in turn would reduce welfare spending and increase income tax revenue. Legalisation of all currently illegal drugs would render the war on drugs in that country no more, saving countless amount of money that would have gone to funding police operations against the drugs trade,

In conclusion decriminalisation is far from the extremely progressive, utopian social policy many people make it out to be, but legalisation could benefit both the country’s governmental budget, economy and drug user’s health in general. Surely it’s time the world’s governments gave their people true freedom over their own bodies and allow them to do so in as moral and safe as possible way. Every country in this world could surely benefit from legalisation of all drugs, taking the drug trade out of the hands of criminals and reducing stigma towards addicts and users. End the drug prohibition.

 

[1] http://www.thesite.org/drink-and-drugs/drugs-and-the-law/if-caught-with-drugs-9584.html

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/legalising-cannabis-in-the-uk-would-raise-hundreds-of-millions-in-taxes-a6691556.html

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/13/legalising-cannabis-would-raise-millions-in-tax-says-government-study

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