A post by Deane on Legalising Marijuana in Sri Lanka prompted me to put up something that I have been thinking about for a while.
On the subject of marijuana I agree with him in full, its not addictive and is less harmful than tobacco; although the smoke will probably do some damage to lungs and throat. It also has a lot of medicinal properties that are worth researching.
On more dangerous drugs; heroin and other opiates; cocaine and its derivatives and all the rest the first thing to do is to collect some statistics on their use. From the little I know it is heroin that accounts for the largest volume. Following the 80:20 rule; identify the few drugs that make up 80% of the usage. The state should then distribute these drugs either free or at nominal charge to the addicts.
At a stroke it will greatly eliminate the petty and dangerous crimes that plague the citizenry and most importantly puts the drugs mafia out of business. How can they possibly sell drugs at a profit when the state is distributing the stuff virtually free?
The State can tie up with some NGO's working in drugs rehabilitation and distribute the products through them. The addicts will need to register and where possible should be persuaded to undergo some rehabilitation treatment, which again could be funded by a combination of public and private funds.
The public faces two large problems with illegal drugs: the crime which is necessary to finance the habits of the addict and the social problems that the addict causes to his family and friends. The policy of state distribution will eliminate the first and through a careful programme of rehabilitation could help alleviate some of the latter.
The biggest and most important benefit that this policy will bring is that it will put the real criminals; the drug gangs out of business. These drug gangs are responsible for a lot of serious crime and they are I believe an important source of funding for political parties. A good many politicians are under the control of the criminal underworld, who finance and run election campaigns on behalf of politicians.
I'm sure the readers of this blog are aware of certain prominent politicos whose links to the underworld are well known; there are many others who are also funded from the same sources but maintain a far more discreet public profile.
It is these people who will be hurt by such a policy, not the public, the addicts or anyone else. Should anyone announce such a policy it would draw howls of protest from many quarters. And we would then know exactly who is funded by the drug cartels.
There is a related problem of corruption that I have blogged about here.