About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

End the "war on drugs"

I couldn't agree more with the current proposal to end the war on drugs in Australia. We should have learned a long time ago that, even from a utilitarian or harm reduction viewpoint, these kinds of prohibitions of things that people want to do and don't view as wrong will never work. They merely cause further suffering, not to mention police corruption, distorted priorities in the use of public resources, and a general disrespect for the law. That's before we even get to the offensiveness of legislators telling adult citizens (or even mature minors) how to live their lives and what to do with their own bodies.

There is a role for the government in enacting paternalistic legislation mainly aimed at protecting children. Parents may well welcome this kind of support. It might, for example, mean that certain products cannot be advertised during prime viewing time for kids, that some will not be available to teenagers below a certain age (though there's no need for it to be the full age of majority), and so on. Governments can launch their own propaganda education campaigns against activities that they dislike, and these can be effective up to a point in shaping what is seen as cool and/or socially acceptable. But there are limits - beyond a certain point, government action is offensive, oppressive, and counterproductive.

Our current drug laws are way, way beyond that point. It's time to decriminalise, and in fact legalise (but regulate), the main recreational drugs. That is a more liberal policy and a more humane one.


Anonymous said...

I'm on drugs.

Charles Sullivan said...

The 'War on Drugs' is even worse in the States, I believe. The percentage of African American males in prison for minor drug charges is completely disproportional to their total population.

We have 3 Marijuana laws up for vote in Oregon in the November election.


But I think the second is the best as a first start, because it doesn't involve sales, which will run counter to Federal laws. And it gives the Oregon state legislature some room to make modifications.

Here's the most realistic one:

moother said...

I buy my dope legally here in the Netherlands. A five minute walk to the coffeeshop and the deal is done. When my stash is finished a ten minuet walk there and back an I'm sorted again.

As a result I am only ever in possession of a gram or three of hashish.

When I went to visit friends in Oz they all had massive bags of grass, like 100 grams or so, which is a criminal offense here too.

Bottom line is that legal sales result in small purchases and illegal sales result in massive illegal purchases.