Just legalise and regulate the real thing before someone innocent dies

On the 24th of September of this year a report was released that has the potential to save millions of lives, free millions more from virtual slavery, and deal a crushing blow to organised crime and gangs.

Yet the media completely ignored it.

The report was by the Global Commission on Drug Policy and is about the legal regulation of the currently illegal drug market.

Let’s start with some basic facts.

Prohibition has done nothing to curb drug misuse. In fact it has pushed the potency of illegal drugs to ever increasing levels, with synthetic cannabis being only the latest example. quote.

Quote:There is no guarantee some of those affected by a bad batch of synthetic cannabis will survive, a doctor says.End of quote.

This is called the iron law of Prohibition. The harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs.

The illegal drug market is not driven by statutory laws but by the laws of supply and demand. In 2005 the illegal drugs market was worth at retail level $320 billion dollars. While seizures and arrests may temporarily reduce supply under Prohibition it only ends up displacing production and supply under what’s known as the balloon effect.

This means that real harm reduction comes from reducing the demand for blackmarket drugs by creating legal, regulated, and controlled alternative legal markets.

Let’s talk about what regulation of the drug market is not.

It’s not a free-for-all. In fact, as America’s opioid crisis shows, an inadequately regulated legal market can be just as harmful as a blackmarket.

It’s not something that will happen overnight and there is no one size fits all solution for every country and every drug. What may work for Portugal may not work for New Zealand and what may work for cannabis may not work for MDMA or heroin. Quote.

Quote:These 10 will probably be ok but certainly some of them have gambled with their life and there is still some critically unwell people in the Intensive Care Unit so we can’t guarantee that they’ll live.”

All had taken either AB or AMB-FUBINACA which had been linked to numerous deaths in the North Island in the past year.

“Synthetic cannabis is a very dangerous drug, there’s no safe level to smoke and we strongly advise, particularly at the moment where there seems to be a bad batch in Christchurch, that people stay away from smoking even small amounts of this.”End of quote.

No one is saying there won’t still be a black market. Under a properly regulated market, synthetic cannabis of the type where there is no relatively safe level would still be illegal, same with dangerous synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. At most, they will decriminalised but those that deal in such drugs will still face severe penalties.

Being under the influence when committing a crime should always be an aggravating factor, never a mitigating one. “My client was high, Your Honour” should never be a defence.

No matter its legal status those who do meth in State houses should never be compensated.

And people who sell drugs to kids should always feel the full weight of the law, no matter what.

The idea is incremental and measured change.

First, you make sure methods are put in place that objectively and properly measure outcomes.

Then you implement, say, for example, starting with allowing the consumption of cannabis at licensed premises.

That’s what is meant by evidence-based drug policy.

Whether its caffeine, nicotine, cannabis or alcohol, most of us are drug users and we use a particular drug mainly for it’s effects, not because “it tastes good”. There over 250 million users of illegal drugs in the world, the vast majority who use responsibly.

One last thing. Drug pharmacology has become so advanced that there is virtually or potentially a synthetic version of just about any natural-based recreational drug you can imagine. There’s synthetic cannabis, obviously. There’s also synthetic heroin and synthetic LSD. These synthetics are often far more dangerous and lethal than their counterparts.

The most dangerous thing about the illegal drug market, in my opinion, is substitution. That is unscrupulous (is there any other kind?) black market drug dealers substituting drugs for synthetic versions eg heroin laced with fentanyl, NBOMe sold as LSD etc.

This means sooner or later someone innocent will die from smoking synthetic cannabis that they didn’t know was synthetic or from smoking natural cannabis laced with synthetics.

It’s inevitable.