Decriminalise most drugs.

Decriminalise most drugs.

As done in Portugal 15 years ago, make drug use a medical issue not a criminal one. Make drugs available at public health clinics. Most drugs are significantly less dangerous than alcohol. This results in at least 7 gains 1. Stop wasting police time. 2. Remove incentive for criminal activity 3. Treat the need that drives people to drugs 4. Reduce hospital admission rates because drugs are pure 5. Reduce overall use because users don't need to become dealers to finance habit. 6. Brings the problem out in the open to allow adequate treatment. 7. Allows proper regulation (ie age restrictions like alcohol) and taxation - which should fund treatment.

Showing 40 reactions

  • Paul Eaton
    commented 2016-12-06 13:29:42 +1300
    Tim, what do you think has been happening in the last 50 years. You have to remove the criminal incentive to increase users, you have to decriminalize so the users can come out into the open and receive either treatment or safe pure drugs. Heroine was available in hospital in NZ until the late 70s. It is a very good and safe anxiolytic drug used in the right circumstances. The problem in the current situation is that it is cut with talc or worse to make the supply go further. So the user never knows how much is in any dose, hence the overdoses. It is a medical and social issue. Not criminal (for the user).
  • Tim O’Donnell
    commented 2016-12-06 13:03:23 +1300
    Using the 80/20 rule & the arguements below. If the most common drug was legal fewer people would need to use gangs for supply & be less likely to be introduced to harder drugs. This makes access to a high available without allowing heroin, meth etc free reign. The supplier is the main target of “harsh laws”. Keep it to the most common drug & see how it goes. You may see the crime decrease & reduced addiction without opening the floodgates.
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-12-06 06:55:35 +1300
    The reason to decriminalization most drugs is to undermine the profit making capability of organised crime. Although users may tend towards the safest, organised crime tends towards the most addictive and most dangerous. Remember we are changing the trade off. The current thinking is drugs are bad and user should be protected through harsh laws. Society pays the price through drug related crime and organised gangs. The alternative is that drugs are bad but protect the impact on society first. Then manage the users though harm minimization strategies. Many people are all for individual responsibility when it comes to crime (lock em away) but not when it comes to narcotics (don’t decriminalize). Decriminalization is a big picture strategy that puts society first.
  • Tim O’Donnell
    commented 2016-12-06 06:34:45 +1300
    So from what you say “users go for the safer drugs”. Why open up others drugs when there’s no need. Stick with the most common and least addictive/harmful, cannabis. From your argument it sounds like these effects could be achieved by only having the most common drug decriminalized
  • Paul Eaton
    commented 2016-12-03 23:04:55 +1300
    The evidence appears to be that given a choice users will go for the safer drugs. Dealers and importers go for the more potent drugs so as to maximize income both by increasing addiction rates and easy of transport/smuggling. When you look at them logically, the facts are overwhelming. Drug use has increased over the last 50 years of criminalizing drugs. Crime related to drug use is rampant. Everywhere decriminalisation has occurred drug use drops, crime disappears, treatment options improve, lives are saved, costs to taxpayers goes down (less prisons, decreased health costs, less wasted police time, less intergenerational propagation with associated welfare dependency) In Portugal there are productive members of society that start their day in a clinic getting their daily fix of heroin before going to work. Not my choice but clean needles, pure drug, rehab facilities, support services all become possible in a decriminalised system. The problem then decreases…as it has not for the last 50 years.
  • Chelsea Finnie
    tagged this with interesting 2016-12-03 22:43:23 +1300
  • Tim O’Donnell
    commented 2016-12-03 21:56:35 +1300
    You say most drug ….. which ones do you think should still be illegal? At the moment I can see the whole party being known as a joke if this was put forward. The facts are going to have to be overwhelm for anyone to listen (including me). Alcohol & smoking have cause a huge cost to the tax payer through health/accident issues so we should open it up to even more problem addictive drugs? Why not just give people a legal option such as weed for starters. Gangs have laced weed with more addictive/expensive drugs to hook people into continued purchases. You wouldn’t get that if there were reputable sellers. The government would even get good tax revenue with little health negatives.
  • Dennis Ingram
    commented 2016-12-03 18:01:14 +1300
    oops, I meant removing a major source of income from gangs and other lawbreakers…
  • Dennis Ingram
    commented 2016-12-03 17:59:53 +1300
    This ought to be a no-brainer given there is solid evidence from Portugal and other places that it works. I also think removing a major source of income can only be a good thing, as will freeing up our police force to focus on preventing violent crime and catching serious lawbreakers.

    The only thing that gives me pause for thought is the evidence presented here:
    This does support this idea by illustrating that one of our currently legal drugs, ethanol, causes the most harm. However, I’m not sure we’re on top of managing alcohol abuse with education and treatment either. I say decriminalise but be prepared to step up in this area.
  • Dennis Ingram
    tagged this with essential 2016-12-03 17:59:53 +1300
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-12-01 06:45:39 +1300
    What you explain is exactly the reason to decriminalization all narcotics and use harm minimization strategies. It’s a great post, Paul. No one complains about getting a bad batch of alcohol or cigarettes. The reason is that it’s safe for the user to come forward and use the normal legal recourse against the supplier. This can’t happen with narcotics. The user has no access to the legal system. In fact the whole industry is outside the legal system. Users, suppliers, makers, all exist within an informal framework of compliance that is more and more appearing in the firm of organised crime. Even more worrying is that these organised criminal elements appear to be imports from overseas. The irony that two of our biggest and most effective weapons against the harm that drugs cause lie idle, The Consumer Guarantees Act and The Fair Trading Act. We have structures set up to control quality and distribution and to resolve disputes and advertising. They all lie idle because we have pushed the ENTIRE industry outside the legal framework. Control, Dispute Resulution, Healthcare Reporting, Statistics and Revenue Collection. And it can exist outside the legal framework only as long as the sky high profits caused by criminalization make the payday sufficient to maintain organised crime. So instead we gave an entire alternative structure that is expensive, and dangerous, and collects ZERO revenue. Think of what could happen if the resourcing involved there was redeployed into harm minimization. And remember, some drugs are harmful, I get that, but (1) protect the innocent wider community first. (2) create a legal and easy Avenue for users to get help. (3) provide sufficient resources to provide help. We can win the war on drugs. We can win by not going to war with it.
  • Paul Eaton
    commented 2016-12-01 06:08:55 +1300
    Guys, you are missing the point. No one is arguing that these things are good for you. However, both alcohol and tobacco smoke are class 1 carcinogens, meaning they are known to cause cancer…No ifs, no buts. So we regulate them, but they are not illegal. When the Americans made alcohol illegal during Prohibition in the 1920s and early 30s, what happened. The rise of the mafia, running alcohol illegally across borders, violence related to gangs, moonshine stills with hospitalization from bad batches etc….Sound familiar?
  • Gene Dalefield
    commented 2016-11-30 23:38:24 +1300
    Except they don’t repeat them, and without scale a study is nothing.

    Yes the way drug policy is enforced is discriminatory, I made that point in my first comment.

    I worry about people who spend a lot of time and money getting drugs when they are not for medicinal purposes. I believe they should not be stigmatized and should instead be supported to find healthier and more constructive ways to use their energy. If someone consents to something, the only thing I want for them is knowledge to do it safely, and support to avoid self-destructive behavior.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-30 23:16:18 +1300
    Hi Gene
    Mythbusters is a substantially better source than the drug warriors who have been talking nonsense for the last few hundred years!
    If fact they are/were a very science based operation – I would argue with some of their experimental models but they used simple repeatable methodology

    The recent (last 50+ years) intensification of the drug war came from Nixon trying to find something to turn the anti-war people into criminals

    I don’t want to take any of these drugs but I don’t think that I have the right to tell YOU not to
    Driving impaired is a valid worry – but again we have a maximum level for alcohol – not an absolute ban
  • Gene Dalefield
    commented 2016-11-30 22:42:56 +1300
    Duncan, cancer drugs are better than cancer. Docters do not medicate if they think it will be worse than the problem.

    There are no scientifically published studies on THC content in saliva in relation to impairment, so it is simply an unquantifiable variable at the present time. However THC consumption is linked to delayed responses by first hand accounts and in tests besides driving.
    Mythbusters is not a source you should use in debate XD

    Horse riding is an individuals choice, it doesn’t put me at risk, why should I care? Your exactly right that it’s their choice, I think it’s that way for any drug, however driving impaired on the road is impinging upon everyone else’s safety.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-30 17:05:14 +1300
    Hi Gene
    “Drugs should have their legal status determined primarily by the physical harm presented by consumption.”

    So cancer drugs that can and do cause massive damage to the body should be outlawed? – even if they do worse damage to the tumor?

    So far we have seen ridiculous claims –
    reefer madness! –
    P Fueled crime spree, – when the same drug is used to treat AHD in children
    the adverts on TV showing spaced out idiots in car crashes – when Mythbusters showed that cannabis did NOT effect your driving

    Lets have some actual data about the real effect – and why should society control what an ADULT wants to consume?
    Are you going to ban horse riding because it’s dangerous?
  • Gene Dalefield
    commented 2016-11-30 16:07:04 +1300
    Drugs should have their legal status determined primarily by the physical harm presented by consumption. Punitive measures should only be aimed at dealers, it should be seen as a medical issue for the consumers. We should look to pardon people who already have possession charges for minor things like cannabis. This is because these charges have been given disproportionately to ethnic minorities (at least that’s certainly true for cannabis) despite equal levels of consumption among all ethnic groups. It’’s vital to do our best to wok on fixing past discriminatory policies.
  • Gene Dalefield
    tagged this with essential 2016-11-30 16:07:03 +1300
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  • Matt Walkington
    tagged this with essential 2016-11-28 23:17:01 +1300
  • John Alan Draper
    commented 2016-11-28 19:45:54 +1300
    Policy to review the evidence.
  • John Alan Draper
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  • Paul Eaton
    commented 2016-11-28 12:40:24 +1300
    Yes I agree. But the fact that they are harmful, like alcohol or smoking doesn’t stop them existing. During the last 40 to 50 years during the criminalization era, drug use has significantly increased, as has crime related to it etc. In Portugal, since decriminalization, drug use has significantly reduced and drug related crime has disappeared. People have moved away from the more dangerous drugs and many users are able to carry on productive lives.
  • Casey Flay
    commented 2016-11-28 12:32:29 +1300
    All drugs are harmful, It doesn’t change the fact that it is a medical not a criminal issue. The money that goes into the jail system to keep drug related offenders locked up could be diverted into hospitals and clinics.
  • Casey Flay
    tagged this with essential 2016-11-28 12:32:28 +1300