Tuesday, 5 May 2015

After Bali 9: let's legalise narcotic drugs

I don't believe the Australian Federal Police's (AFP) rationale for notifying Indonesian authorities to the Bali 9 for a single instant. What we see the AFP doing now is furiously backpedaling in an effort to deflect blame and escape public censure following the execution by firing squad by Indonesia of two young Australian men convicted of smuggling heroin through Indonesia, where to do so is an offense punishable by death. (Apparently there are signs up in the main airports in Indonesia warning prospective smugglers, but that's no excuse for killing them if they actually do it, it seems to me.) What we have here is a callow Australian law enforcement agency desperate to wriggle out of a tight spot by blaming drug dealers working in Australia for causing harm to the Australian community.

But the AFP did the wrong thing by notifying the Indonesian police in 2005 of the Bali 9's intentions, and trying to justify it with reference to harm done by drug dealers working in Australia is totally bogus. There should not be an illegal drug trade because there should not be illegal drugs, period. Proscribing the use of some substances and not others (alcohol, for example, is legal of course) is stupid and counter-productive.

Portugal tells us that the way we are dealing with narcotic substances is the problem, not the narcotic substances themselves or the people who sell them to an ever-hungry market in the Australian community. You can't just sit on the fence and get people killed by ignorant regimes like the one in Indonesia. You have to do things that will change the way the problem is handled. The way we are handling this problem right now is wrong. We need to bring the consumption of narcotics out of the shadows and into the light where we can address the issue as a community. Let's legalise narcotics immediately.

Having legal narcotics would be beneficial in many ways that are difficult to substantiate but the main benefit would be that legalisation would enable people to consume their drugs in public. Other people in the community would then see that consumption going on and would be able to remark on it - or not, as the case may be - and so there would be a level of effective self-policing by the community because what other people think of us, especially our peers, is far more important to us than what a despised minority do when they occupy the legislatively-sanctioned role of police. People would start to think about their drug use in a more rational way, instead of hiding it and bingeing occasionally - as they currently do - and the amounts of drugs consumed would also fall.

Bringing the trade out of the shadows would also have the beneficial effect of making it unavailable as a means of income generation for the criminal class. The tax revenues generated by a legal drug trade could also then be partially redeployed in preventative measures, and those preventions would be rational and health-based rather than crime-based as they currently are.

There are so many reasons to make drugs legal. These are just a few ideas off the top of my head at the spur of the moment - this is a blogpost after all. Other people with far more knowledge than me are in a much better position to explain why legalising narcotics is a good thing. I hope they follow this lead and get writing!

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