FINDING A SOLUTION TO THE WAR ON DRUGS – The UK, as with the U.S and pretty much any country you care to mention, is at war and that war is to stamp out illegal Class A drugs.
Unfortunately, despite the billions spent at the expense to the taxpayer the war is in effect no further to being won and indeed many suggest that the smuggling and use of Class A drugs is on the rise.
The Crime Commissioner for Durham, Ron Hogg, has just suggested that the British Government should create government run drug rooms.
The idea is to allow drug addicts the ability to not only come and inject their chosen drug in the safety of a clinic but also that drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, should be provided for free through taxpayer funding in order to reduce drug related crime.
According to Mr. Hogg he estimates that such a countrywide scheme would cost the taxpayer approximately £18,000 per addict annually.
Such a notion has been blasted by care groups and the Government as nothing more than supporting an addict’s drug habit at the expense of others and that such an idea is ludicrous and that the public would almost certainly oppose such a move.
How far-fetched is such an idea? The issue with this particular idea is that we have only been told how much it would cost per addict annually. Mr. Hogg gave no mention of the possible cost savings in rehabilitation centers and crime associated with drugs.
Therefore the question needs to be asked; “Would such a scheme actually be more cost-effective?”
There is also a moral issue to consider here; that is would we simply be condoning such a practice that will ultimately lead to the demise of the user.
The answer is yes; such a practice would make us culpable to those deaths that would occur through drug abuse and therefore supporting such a scheme is unlikely to be ever accepted in any society that purports to have a moral obligation towards others.
So what’s the solution? If our Government and authorities are unable to tackle the growing problems of illegal drug use it is clear that other solutions must be explored.
We do of course have a number of taxpayer funded rehabilitation centres available for those who seek to be cured of their addiction and whilst this measure is unquestionably an admirable trait for a humane society this only extends to those who genuinely want to kick the habit.
Look back to the days of Prohibition in the U.S; it became clear that the only ones making any money from alcohol were the bootleggers and in turn this fueled crime levels in the U.S through the mafia.
The U.S Government soon realised that prohibition was not working and therefore legalised alcohol and set about taxing it. The result today is a reasonably well regulated system that produces much needed tax revenue for the government and produces a consistent product that is nowhere near as detrimental to health as was the liquor produced by bootleggers.
Tobacco products are also another example of an effective way to regulate and raise taxes. We are of course acutely aware of the dangers to tobacco smoking and Governments continue to ramp up taxes in order to get people to quit the habit due to health cost.
Currently the revenue generated outstrips the cost of healthcare for those who fall victim to the numerous diseases, including cancer, related to tobacco smoking.
We have also seen the rise of the e-cigarette and some conspiracy theorists are suggesting that Governments are now moving to ban these from being used in public places in the same way tobacco products are.
This ban, according to the conspiracy theorists, is not due to the effects on health but rather to reduce such an activity that is clearly not generating any tax revenue in the way tobacco products do.
The supply of illegal narcotics is certainly big business; you only need to look at how rich the Columbian drugs cartels have become to acknowledge that fact.
One of the issues with illegal drugs is the way in which it is ultimately supplied to the end user. Without regulation, drugs are cut, cut and cut again with all manner of chemicals therefore putting the end users at even greater risk; in order to increase profits of the suppliers and dealers.
Should we consider making Class A drugs legal and allow their manufacture to be openly produced under strict regulation?
This would prevent drug cartels, smugglers and dealers from profiteering from the illicit trade and would allow for the user to have access to a more controlled substance at a significantly lower price and whereby Governments could even generate tax revenue.
Surely such a system would reduce crime due to the drugs being freely available at a much lower cost. It might even have an impact on the number of people seeking help to cure themselves of the addiction as its use wouldn’t carry the social stigma it currently has.
The issues here of course lay at the feet of morality and what society views as morally acceptable. One thing remains clear and that is the war on drugs is nowhere near being conquered and therefore if the current thinking and approach to this problem is not working then we need to open our minds to other possibilities.