Human Rights Watch World Report 2014This morning I’m reading the Human Rights Watch 2014 World Report, and an essay is included that addresses the flaws of the criminalization of drugs. The author of the essay concludes, after the analysis of countless studies related to the worldwide war on drugs, that after the billions of dollars spent, the lives lost due to the need to go underground and the conflicts borne from organized crime, drugs need to be decriminalized. This is a kinetic subject right now, with Colorado and Washington legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and 20 other states allowing the medical use of it. Would the decriminalizing of all drug use and possession be prudent but would we be opening a Pandora’s box?
Having my own history with drugs, and knowing a plethora of people with their own personal addiction issues, I considered the possibility of legalizing the personal possession and use of all drugs that are now illegal (this doesn’t include distribution). There are economic, political, legal and social implications in the western world and beyond.
Indeed, in the economically struggling environment that we have been treading water in, it would be a pleasure to see additional revenue be generated via an outlet that is strictly recreational. I would be thrilled to see money be recirculated back into universal healthcare, assistance for the poor or benefits to our much deserved solders as a result of this pastime.
Negative political implications would only prevail if one of our elected leaders took the initiative to push through legislation that is not approved of by his/her electorate. As a result, the social implications would need to be placated first in order to mitigate any political implications. In other words, get people used to the idea first before initiating legislation.
Legal repercussions would certainly be curtailed with comprehensive, clear legislation. You can’t sue for something that isn’t illegal, right?
So the ultimate question is: Is decriminalizing the responsible thing to do? From the point of view of the author of the essay it certainly seems as if our current approach is unproductive, if not counterproductive (and I adamantly agree). My only argument is that the general condition of addiction isn’t being address. Sure, it’s easy to talk about how things shouldn’t be. Negating is simply crossing off what hasn’t already worked. But to come up with new ideas requires imagination, innovation and courage. This essay, unfortunately falls short in this department. Clearly, addiction is an inherent weakness of the human condition. It has existed since the infancy of our evolution. There is no need for drugs to create addiction. We, as human beings, are quite capable of inventing our own imagined sources of addiction. Pornography, risk taking, gambling, sex, even germs appear to be temptations for the neurotic human mind. Certainly, there are drugs out there that carry physical addictions, and that is a problem with a very short tail. Check yourself into a facility for a few weeks, IV fluids, sedation and anti-nausea drugs as needed, and voila: withdrawals have been addressed. However, there is an underlying, much deeper problem that addicts struggle to initially see, and need to fall off the wagon multiple times to finally recognize: addiction gives them an emotional diversion from problems that they don’t want to confront. In the final analysis, comprehensive addiction problems should have it’s own set of rules, and in my opinion, should be paid for by the legalization of most drugs that now result in jail time. By so doing, the drug market will be much more regulated and taxed, and the human propensity for addiction would be addressed. With Universal Healthcare being unrolled, this type of program could easily be incorporated into it. Although its a pipe dream on my part, I hope that eventually other, more influential leaders will begin to see that drugs are simply the effect of human’s tendency to gravitate towards addiction.