Legalising All Drugs Would Have Major Health Benefits Say Researchers
Legalising all drugs may be the only way to tackle drug-related health issues, a new study has suggested.
Moves to decriminalise marijuana have been gathering pace across the United States and elsewhere in the world in recent years. But legalising all drugs is still a pretty radical idea.
According to a team of British researchers, however, blanket bans on so-called ‘hard’ drugs actually cause more harm than good.
In a new paper published in the journal Drug Science, Policy and Health, psychologists and drug policy experts Phil Dalgarno, Steve O’Rawe and Richard Hammersley explore a range of possible options for regulating drug use, ranging from total prohibition to full legalisation.
The conclusion? By legalising all illicit substances, governments would be able to better regulate drugs, remove barriers to addiction treatment and curb the activities of black market dealers and traffickers, resulting in a whole host of public health benefits.
The paper states that since the global ‘war on drugs’ began in earnest in the early 1960s, use of illegal substances has actually increased, while also becoming more dangerous. For example, the increased prevalence of fentanyl-laced heroin has resulted in an epidemic of overdoses in the United States, which the researchers argue could be controlled through regulation if heroin were legal.
In another often deadly unintended consequence of current laws, people suffering from drug addiction are sometimes reluctant to seek treatment due to the possibility of arrest or imprisonment – something the researchers point out that legalisation would also address.
While IFLScience reports that some countries, most famously Portugal, have engaged in widespread decriminalisation of ‘hard’ drugs, the researchers argue this only goes part way to resolving the problem. In particular, they say only the full legalisation of all drugs offers a chance to curbing the drug trafficking industry, which is responsible for horrifying levels of violence and death in countries across the world.
Opponents of less stringent drug laws have long argued that legalising harder substances like cocaine and heroin would lead to a ‘free for all,’ resulting in more deaths and higher rates of addiction. However this paper rejects those claims, and points to the strict safety standards and regulation of legal substances like alcohol and tobacco as a potential model for future drug policy.
Legalising all drugs is unlikely to become a reality in most major countries any time soon. But these researchers believe that continuing down the current road is a mistake, and that ultimately full legalisation represents ‘our only way out of the public health and criminal justice crises that have been driven by drug policy globally.’
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