Sunday, 25 October 2015

More Problems from the War on Drugs

From the BBC

A senior paramedic has warned that so-called legal highs are leaving ambulance services baffled when it comes to treating casualties.

Sarah Harrison said the complex make-up of the substances is leaving staff playing "catch-up" in the battle to develop effective treatments.

Legal highs exist because of the war on drugs. A drug is made illegal because of the chemical composition. By slightly changing the chemical composition, it's now legal. But mostly has the same effects. Then the authorities discover that drug, make it illegal, and the producers just modify the drug again.

And one result of that is that there's little knowledge of what's being produced. Which means that paramedics don't have a clue about what to do with particular drugs, and can't keep up, and there's no information because it's all rather secretive. And people suffer and die. Because of the war on drugs.

So, let's imagine a different scenario: we tear down the drug laws that exist. We have licensed retailers and producers. You can sell cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine, with all sorts of controls on what you can sell. We have a body like the MHRA, but for getting off your face. And then with the range of products available, we can train paramedics in how to deal with the effects of certain drugs. "Legal highs" would disappear because there would be no demand for them if you can just buy an ounce of weed in Aldi or Waitrose.


Antisthenes said...

I have long thought that was the obvious solution. We know from experience that prohibition does not work. It is unworkable and it uses vast amounts of money to enforce gives rise to gangsterism and high levels of crime.

Legalise it it can be controlled, taxed, crime will reduce considerably the estimate is by 70% and the resources used to combat it can be diverted to doing more productive things. In the short term use will increase but the evidence tells us that in the long term use will drop especially if we tackle it like we do for tobacco and alcohol consumption. We should legalise prostitution for many of the same reasons.

Legalising drugs is such an obvious thing to do that it is a no brainer. Perhaps that is the problem the bulk of the population who obviously want to keep it illegal have difficulty using their brains to work out how much of a no brainer it is.

Bayard said...

It is also a problem with having a publicly funded health service in that it gives the powers that be justification to take all sorts of measures on the grounds that it saves the country money by having fewer people needing that health service.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, of course.

B, that is the beauty of what TS outlines, or Anti's idea of taxing them. The tax would cover the cost of treatment ten times over, and in the rare cases where somebody overdoses or has an averse reaction, the patient will be able to tell the ambulance man straight away honestly and openly what he has taken.

And don't forget that the USA has largely privately funded healthcare and they are at the forefront of the war on drugs for over a century.

A K Haart said...

I agree with the post, it is time to be more constructive.

The Stigler said...


It's changing as a new generation that has taken drugs has started to take over. In the USA, 50% of people support decriminalisation, which is why you're seeing some states allowing it to be sold.


I think Mark has answered it.


Yeah. The key failure of the war on drugs is that it hasn't stopped demand.



Bayard said...

Mark, it's just an excuse. In reality, it is the puritanical instinct at work.

Lola said...

ALL drugs were legal once...