Legalizing drugs, yes or no and why?
The question whether to legalize drugs seems like a never-ending debate here in the Netherlands. In fact, the current tolerance policy is not a real solution for soft drugs nor for substances listed on the Opium list II. And there is no solution whatsoever for substances (like cocaine, XTC or LSD etc.) listed on Opium List I.
In order to have an opinion on whether to legalize drugs or not you need to be well informed on the matter. Let’s have a look at the arguments to be used in a discussion about legalizing drugs.
There are many arguments in the debate about whether to legalize drugs or not, both in favor and against. We’ll have a look at both, starting with the arguments against legalizing drugs.
Probably the biggest and most obvious argument put forward against legalizing drugs is the harmful effect it has on your health. The general consumption will rise, as it seems that soft drugs aren’t bad for you, when the government approves them. Especially when fully legal, kids and youth will get in contact with soft drugs easier and more often. More about this later when we look at the effects on health.
“Stepping Stone Theorie”
It is also feared that when you legalize soft drugs, it won’t stop with using soft drugs alone. Once young kids get in contact with soft drugs they’ll make the transition to hard drugs. Depending on the kind of hard drugs they could be more harmful and more addictive. Of course, this is something we’d like to prevent.
Yet, the stepping stone theory has been researched multiple times and there was never any concrete evidence for it. Instead, when soft drugs are illegal, users get in contact with hard drugs easier, through dealers who are also dealing ‘harder’ drugs. That would turn the ‘stepping stone theory’ into reality.
Drug use is simply wrong
There is also the opinion that drug use is simply wrong and that it will slowly bring decay to our society. People will get addicted, won’t finish school and everything will turn sour. This is the opinion of a society where the legal hard drug alcohol is allowed, because we already know it. We accept it, but something different… just no.
Deals with other countries
Something people don’t take into consideration often, is the deals we have with other countries and the UN. We can’t just legalize soft drugs as a country by ourselves. It could increase tension with other countries. And that’s something the government could do without. Yet, in many states of the US they are much further in legalizing soft drugs (hash, marihuana) than the Netherlands. They’ve already regulated the supply side. While here, the ‘back side’ isn’t even taken care of.
In May 2016, lawyers Piet Hein van Kempen and Masha Fedorova from the Radboud University Nijmegen published a report stating that legalization is possible according to international law.
According to them human rights treaties can even force governments to allow regulated cannabis cultivation and trade, if it protects human rights better than a ban on drugs would. The Dutch cabinet always stuck to the assertion that experimenting with regulated weed cultivation wasn’t possible according to international treaties
More drug tourists
Finally, the stream of tourists to the Netherlands who will visit just for drugs will increase even more when legalizing drugs, and that’s something we can do without. It could cause a lot of disturbance, so to say. Many people would rather not identify themselves when buying (soft) drugs because society still looks down on those who are using drugs.
It could be prevented by using residents’ criteria. Only residents of the Netherlands would be allowed to buy legal drugs. There is one caveat however. European regulation (free movement of goods and services) could state that you ought to allow foreigners to whatever you are selling in your own country legally. Yes…you could start a test case for that at the European Court. We don’t have to discriminate against foreigners wanting to get high.
Besides, internet knows no borders, making organizing those kinds of restrictions kind of complicated.
Arguments for legalizing (soft)drugs
Besides these counter arguments there are plenty of arguments in favor of legalizing (soft) drugs.
To start there is decreasing crime in dealing soft drugs, as it doesn’t have to happen illegally in the underworld anymore, allowing you to better check that everything happens safely
Reducing costs on law enforcement and better law enforcement
Besides, the current law enforcement dealing with the ban on (soft) drugs is very expensive, which allows us to save a great deal of money. Some figures even state that 50% of criminality is connected to drugs in some form or another
When you can reassure people making their money with it, they can put more focus on the remaining 50% criminality. More focus on cases like the robbery of old grandmas and rape cases for example. In other words, we will get better law enforcement as a result. Something no one could oppose, beside the criminals themselves…?
The Best ‘Ripp The Criminals Off Their Money’ Legislation
There is so much money to be made in drugs by the underworld that you notice they want to buy influence in the upper world as well. And it’s not just Desi Bouterse in Suriname.
The best way to take money away from criminals is still by legalizing drugs. The market will simply vanish. No consumer will be willing to buy from a criminal when they can buy better and safer products through ‘safe dealers, which are regulated by the government.
The government can make money
Besides saving on law enforcement you can also make money on legalizing drugs by adding taxes on (soft) drugs. In that way everybody profits from the people wanted to use drugs instead of suffering as a consequence.
This money can then be used for quality checks or for education regarding the risks of soft drugs on high schools. You can also try to prevent addiction through the best drugs policy like they do in Iceland. Something like that may cost up to 200 million. With plenty to remain. An estimation of the total drug market is 40 billion in the Netherlands alone!
Just the VAT is 8 billion. We’ll add revenue taxes, say 15 billion more. Some calculations have been made that when you just legalize soft drugs on the backend of the business side will generate 1,5 billion.
All deficits in the healthcare could be solved by legalizing drugs. The Netherlands could be made climate neutral faster with 22 billion a year. Allowing the people from the Dutch province of Groningen to live without earthquakes (the extraction of lots of fossile gas makes for an unstable area to live on).
The choice is whether your house will collapse or someone you don’t know is allowed to use drugs legally? I think we might be able to unite people into supporting legalization of drugs.
Better health and less deaths
Furthermore, it will improve the quality of (soft) drugs, as soft drugs can be bought in coffeeshops which enforce strict quality controls. Bad quality drugs can lead to illness and it’s better to have it disappear altogether.
At least 25% of the cases are drug related.
If we legalize drugs the criminals will disappear and with it the need to fight each other to death. In the Netherlands, this accounts to some 40 deaths (with an average of 2 innocent bystanders) less per year.
Right to self-determination of your own body
It is kind of complicated for the government to say something about someone’s body. Losing weight or stop smoking obligatory is not something a government can impose. Freely available everywhere are tasty cookies and other sweets. Or a nice Mars or Snickers or stuff like that. But when you take too much of that, you’ll die as well.
And sugar is highly addictive too. Just google Maggie de Block, a minister of Health in Belgium, and strong supporter of criminalisation of drugs. Then you know exactly what I mean.
The same goes for alcohol and smoking, those are all things which you are allowed to consume in unlimited quantities.
But when we talk about drugs it is completely justified to make it illegal suddenly.
Number of users won’t increase by legalizing drugs
The proponents say that the number of users won’t increase by legalizing soft drugs. Something that is forbidden always attracts users. Besides, the Netherlands already have a relative low amount of drug addicts. People noticed that the Netherlands had less drug addicts compared to the United States for example, where drugs were prohibited. I put an emphasis on were, as many states in the United States are much further than the Netherlands when it comes to soft drugs. Legally available, without prescription or anything.
History teaches us that prohibition of drugs won’t work
The only thing history teaches us is that prohibiting drugs won’t work. The demand for drugs will still be there and people will always find a way to get to the drugs anyway.
The only thing prohibition does is to increase the price. The stricter the sanctions or the more successful the suppression, the higher the prices. Which, according to the laws of economics, will ensure more suppliers entering the market. Even in the Philippines, where people are shot in the street for being a dealer, you are able to get a gram of coke in half an hour.
Legal and illegal drugs are already available
Drugs are always readily available. There are legal substances like alcohol or soft drugs. There are also research chemicals and new psychoactive substances or just illegal drugs… yet, not everybody takes drugs all day every day. Everybody who wants to, can get their hands on drugs, with or without prohibition. Still society continues to function nominally. For example, you can order research chemicals in our shop. They aren’t meant for consumption, but no one will check what you’ll do with it.
Go to our research chemicals shop
Selling points bound by regulations
When you legalize drugs, you can subdue legal selling points to regulations. For example, that users must be older than 18 years, that you have to educate everybody beforehand and that everybody needs to have successfully finished some kind of ‘drug school’ or even a first aid course, or else they won’t be allowed to buy drugs. You can also restrict the amount of XTC to 4 times a year maximum for example.
As government, you can regulate and control more than you would when you prohibit drugs. You exercise more control over drugs compared to over criminals. That might be able to save lives.
Good arguments for legalizing drugs
There are plenty of good and qualitative arguments for legalizing drugs. Opponents of legalizing drugs are heavy on emotion and ‘drugs are just bad mkay’ arguments. Assumptions are also made without solid numbers to back it up. You also notice that if some opponents wouldn’t be against, they would be out of a job.
That is also the reason that the debate regarding legalizing drugs is so complex and tedious. A debate which didn’t bring us any further as a world. Political parties don’t like to burn their fingers on legalizing drugs. It is a complex message to convey from ‘drugs are bad and dangerous and ought to be forbidden’ to ‘drugs are bad and dangerous, but prohibition is an option which through trial-and-error proved to not have worked, so let’s do something different, something that makes money and causes less deaths in the process instead.’
But we’ll continue with the health effects caused by soft drug use. Often, it’s only hallelujah or only negative when it comes to soft drugs. But let’s look at a drug with PROVEN health benefits which had been tolerated since 1977. Is ‘ganja’ deservedly been tolerated in the Netherlands?
The health benefits of soft drugs or cannabis
When you think about the health effects of soft drugs, the healing effects won’t come in to mind, rather a detrimental effect. But soft drugs can have a positive effect on your health indeed.
The positive health effects of soft drugs or cannabis
Cannabis can be used as medication, as it has been used for centuries. It is only recently that it is seen as purely a stimulant. Certain substances in cannabis contain cancer-healing properties and it works well against practically all sorts of pain
Especially people with chronical pain can benefit from it. The appetite increasing properties of cannabis (the so-called craving) can also be used with ill people who are nauseous and have little desire to eat.
Cannabis does not pose any immediate harm to your health. An overdose of cannabis? Doesn’t happen. Physical addiction to cannabis? Doesn’t happen.
It appears that there are many more health benefits to cannabis and further research will prove this in the years to come.
The negative health effects of marihuana
Using cannabis will cause you to be less alert in the moment and your responsive capacity decreases as well, which can be dangerous when you walk on the street.
Prolonged use of cannabis causes your concentration and responsive capacities to decrease and can lead to a psychosis when you are prone to it. smoking cannabis leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, esophageal cancer and throat cancer, even more so than just regular smoking of tobacco.
The future belongs to the research chemicals?
The future belongs to designer drugs as they state that the search for trance is inevitable and unstoppable. Intoxicants will never go out of fashion. But whether legalizing drugs is a logic response to that, may cast legitimate doubts. The well-known pharma psychologist Ronald Siegel points out that the substances in question – like heroin and cocaine – aren’t ‘perfect’ and that we already have ‘our hands full’ with alcohol and tobacco.
To persuade users in the West to start chewing coca leaves instead of extracted and pure chemicals would be a healthier solution, yet not a very practical one and it doesn’t appeal to the users much either
What standards would intoxicants need to meet?
Ideally, intoxicants would have to taste good and enhance the wellbeing of body and spirit. Furthermore, they ought to have taken a very distinct and familiar place in culture. While we have incorporated alcohol (strong liquor) and tobacco as completely self-evident in our culture, we are suspicious when it comes to new ones – we want to subject them to stern tests and even then those ‘drugs’ will have a long way to go before they will reach the same status as a stimulant like alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea have done. If alternative and harmless substances aren’t available now, then why – Sieges asks himself – can’t we make sure there will be?
The problem is not the problem of addiction
The main problem of the use of intoxicants according to Siegel, who thereby supports the findings of many social-scientific researches, is not so much the problem of addiction. Controlled use is possible, and you can enhance it. Especially using it within regular social relations has the characteristic of moderation rather than immoderation. Though generally speaking, enhancing safe usages doesn’t work. Our most popular drugs can’t really be seen as safe or been used in such a way, according to Siegel.
Most important challenge is to design safe drugs
That’s why it is the challenge of the 21st century to design safe drugs, which fulfills the desires of users, but which won’t have addictive behavior attached to it and which have a built-in ‘brake’ on excessive use. The currently known hard drugs – including alcohol and tobacco – will remain to carry serious risks, even though many people know how to control it. medications also have many side effects, but they are morally acceptable.
In the moral unacceptability of the side effects, Siegel sees the core of the problem for legalizing drugs. As long as our culture morally dismisses the use of illegal drugs without medical purpose, and even takes an ambivalent stance against the use of legal substances, it will remain with an unsolvable problem as the desire for these substances won’t disappear.
Drugs helps people adapting….
Siegel designates intoxicants as adaptogens, substances which help people to adapt to their physical and social surroundings. Adaptogens are substances, already present in the body, with which people can influence their biological and physical reality, depending on the requirements imposed on themselves or by their surroundings. Generally speaking, they ensure a dynamical balance. When people are searching for such substances outside of their own bodies, this is in principle functional for reaching this balance, like a positive change of mood.
Drugs are the Fourth Drive
Siegel describes the passionate desire for intoxicants as a symptom of ‘the fourth drive’ (besides sex, hunger and thirst) and as far as he’s concerned, it serves a legitimate ‘medical’ purpose. To walk the ‘third road’ as he proposes, we first need to accept this desire and legitimate the desire for this trance, and then find a way to realize this desire in a saw way. We have modern technology to our disposal and a nice task for the pharmaceutical industry. With their help, drugs could be manufactured which will have a maximal effect with a minimal risk. The – like Siegel calls it – ‘Calvinistic pharmacology’ prevented to accept the satisfaction of needs of mind and body as a legitimate medical purpose, insofar there wasn’t a case of illness in the classical sense.
Drug use as self-medication
The indication of drug use as ‘self-medication’ which has become commonplace in the last fifty years, shows that users have already disregarded the Calvinistic pharmacology a long time ago. The desire for self-medication is so huge that – if restrictive measures won’t prevent it from happening – one can expect a larger supply of substances become available with a much better quality in the future than currently available through drug stores or pharmacies. To prevent loss of control there ought to be a search for substances with as little possibility of misuse as possible, Siegel states. They ought to be extremely safe – and be subjected to the same criteria as our food. As long as these substances are not available we will – with the knowledge that the desire for a trance can’t be suppressed – have to help ourselves with prevention and rehabilitation for addicts.
Are the safe substances coming?
Whether the proposed safe substances will be available soon, besides the question if there is enough societal support for it, could be assessed as relatively positive. What happens in rather crude, illegal laboraties – one would think – could also happen in a much more professional and effective way in legal and well-equipped laboraties? Knowledge and the ability to manipulate the molecular structure of (the active and harmful parts of) the most well-known drugs has increased substantially in the end of the twentieth century.
Spectacular knowledge increase regarding the functioning of drugs
Just as spectacular was the knowledge increase in the previous twenty years of the very complex functioning of drugs on the central nerve system and for example the role of enzymes and genes in this process. Siegel imagines an ideal intoxicant to be a substance with the desired positive effects with a minimum of poisonous side effects. It could be fast working pills, liquids or gasses (inhaling). You need to time the effect and you have to clearly define it. Also you have to built in a mechanism that prevents excessive use. So you make sure an overdose is less likely to happen. They must work fast in order to appear more dangerous than they are in reality.
An education in drugs?
A bit of education for people wanting to use drugs – a kind of drugs’ license, including first aid course – could be a solution for responsibly legalizing drugs. Only people in possession of such a drugs’ license would be allowed to buy legal drugs.
The future belongs to the research chemicals
As far as Siegel is concerned, the future of legalizing drugs belongs to research chemicals and designer drugs, within a completely legal context. What illegal designers can do already – combine specific drug effects to a specific feeling that is in vogue at that moment – future ‘architects’ of psychoactive molecules definitely should be able to do.
The most promising thing for the responsible legalization of drugs appears to be the research chemicals, which are kind of based on the same principle of the 2-components glue. You have to mix the components and only then you will have a kind of glue. It’s possible to design drugs with 2 components as well.
You design the drugs itself, as well as the antidote. For Opiates you can add Narcan (Naxalone) for example. This medicine has saved plenty of lives from a certain overdose death. You need something that powerfully removes the drugs from the receptors in your brain, allowing you to continue as you were. Very modern. You go crazy when you want to and when you are finished.. bam, stone sober again. Or physostigmine with GHB, it only has some nasty side effects. The industry is able to design something if they want to.
You can also think about drug users tapping off their own blood and storing it (taken in sober state) and giving that blood back to themselves through a device. You could also think about a dialysis device in that regard
Pissed and sober after an hour?
In other words, you get piss drunk. You attach yourself to the device and within the hour your blood is cleared from alcohol. The dirty blood can be cleaned from ethanol (alcohol) and later given back. of course, it would be easier to just take a pill. Though those tap- and dialysis devices could be useful in the world of today. I think most devices are needlessly difficult and complicated to ensure people in healthcare also make a nice living.
You could also enhance drugs with certain substances. When you want to stay drunk longer, Fomipizole might be good option
Satisfying the 4th drive
Satisfying the fourth drive could be developed in a more advanced fashion during the course of the 21st century. If we take XTC (ecstasy) as an example for what Siegel means, we have got it all wrong. It appears that the claimed innocence of the popular XTC and its variants appears to be doubtful – researchers point to the possibility of lasting damaging of the brains.
Recently, researchers reported that based on experiments on animals there is a real chance that XTC damages the serotonergic system in the brain and that it causes neuronal damage which will only be visible over the long term. Further research would have already proved that it is very likely that chronical XTC-use would also cause neuronal damage in humans. A positive fact is that chronic use of XTC is unlikely, as the novelty of using it wanes of after a while.
XTC is not as good as it appears to be
XTC also causes fatigue as well as a hangover feeling. Besides, the quality is often subpar. The great demand for XTC in the previous years, combined with the potential significant risks of the active substance (MDMA), underlines the importance of stimulating the search for safer alternatives. A step in the good direction has been made with the development of 6APB. But 6APB is not known by the public and not yet suited for consumption. More research has been conducted. Luckily, that is allowed. do you also want to research 6APB? Click the link below.
Make drugs available first and legalize it afterwards?
For substances like heroin, which cause little to no lasting neurophysiological damage, but have a dependence tendency, the road of medical availability would be an important intermediate step. Only after a while it could be decided that the drug would ‘gain’ the status of intoxicant when it appears that the demand for this ‘medicine’ seems to be limited.
Could the current experiments with supplying heroin to ‘hopeless’ cases be a possible prelude to wider ‘medical’ consumption? All in all, it is important to relativize the fixation on this substance somewhat because – as researcher P. Cohen states – it is not so much about the substance itself as it is about the connected lifestyle for the users, for example the party lifestyle.
Will a part of the excitement disappear when legalizing drugs?
It could be added that legalizing drugs may have a negative effect on specific subcultures of users and cause disruption to certain meaning structures bound to illegality. The desire for excitement and the sensation of preparation as well as the deviating context of using are hardly if at all existing in a normalized and regulated (by the government completely controlled and regulated) setting.
For many users of illegal drugs, the use of it is an expression of ultimate privacy. Legalizing ‘breaches’ that implicitly. It could be that the government aims to decrease criminality and health damage by legalizing. Yet, for many users the legal status doesn’t compensate the lack of possibility to behave intentionally deviant or to have a different relation vis a vis society.