Monday, 22 March 2010

The Non-Ideal Solution to Meow Meow

A lot has been made of the use and dangers of legal highs recently, particularly with the deaths of 2 children in Scunthorpe thought to be linked to "Meow meow" or mephedrone as it is known chemically.

Whilst drug deaths, especially those where children are involved are heartbraking I remain convinced that the calls of those directly affected for a ban are misguided whilst those of their political masters are purely taking advantage of the situation; either through more thorough control over us proles or, though a more cynical reason there is none, for political gain (particularly odious considering the cause of these childrens deaths isn't entirely as clear cut); if there were any proportionality to there reasoning why not ban alcohol and tabacco, blowing up distilleries.

Boatang has recorded some of the goings on with prohibition over the last century; he makes the standard libertarian arguements, and I agree with them. All.

Problem is as I found out in very practical terms recently people put very little stock in arguements that are inherently pro-freedom; they are geared to accept a smaller world view and find the path of least resistance in simple punitive arguements of one group or another (Melanie Philips being a case in point).

That is why I would like to propose an alternative to outright legalisation which would reduce the prevalence of deaths attributable to drug taking whilst curbing the spread: expand the powers of the MHRA to include recreational drugs of all kinds (including alcohol and tabacco) and alter the remit of drug laws to inform peoples of the risks involved.

Additionally tax it as you would any other legal recreational drug; weight for weight recreational drugs like alcohol and tabacco mitigate the costs associated with their use many times over - possibly one of the only reasons why they've not been banned outright by a bansturbating parliament, plus the fact that they are populist, attention-seeking scumbags probably figures into it quite heavily too. Either way one of the most egregious aspects of prohibition has been the lack of research that goes into these drugs; a fact that through much of their history has led to pathways of research being controlled by some particularly unsavoury elements, which can never be a good thing.

Drug licencing means that credible research will have to be done into the effects of these drugs in their pure form and delivery methods will be improved - we will swap pharmaceutical-grade talc and polyols for brick dust and cut glass currently used.

All the while drug development can continue in a self-sustaining manner; the burdens of abuse becoming self-mitigated problems.

This isn't ideal; I am effectively calling for the problem of recreational drugs to fall out of one government agencies lap (the police and justice agencies) into another (the regulatory bodies) and to ensure comparisons can be drawn include tabacco (alcohol is covered by strict GMP guidelines making it less worthwhile); the outcome of any credible study would probably make uncomfortable reading for some users of current legal drugs.

All in all though I am advocating a net increase in the individuals freedom; not everyone will make decisions which will be good for them but fewer of those bad decisions will prove fatal or find them taking their life places that will prove impossible to come back from. Drugs will naturally become cheaper and safer, releasing the burden on healthcare and remove the criminal monopsonies that plague our inner cities; the police becoming able to mop up weakened and impoverished criminal gangs.

If the war on drugs teaches us anything it illustrates where denormalising behaviour eventually takes us; to disenfranchise and criminalise an entire subculture merely impoverishes us all.

I am no fan of drugs; I think it is pure escapism, but as a drinker and resident of the UK I have to say of late we have all needed an escape; making drugs pay their own way will only reduce the dependency on them overall and help those who use them become responsible for their own actions.

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