15 December 1997

Flavour of the month: Drugs

There has been considerable debate about whether or not drugs should be legalised. Lets just look at the facts for a moment.

1. Drugs kill thousands of people each year;

2. Millions of dollars is spent on drug-law enforcement and in trying to control the drug trade;

3. Organised crime makes more from the drug trade than from all other activities;

4. Drug addiction is said to cause most burglaries as well as other unprovoked crime; and

5. Money flowing out of the country to pay for drugs actually has a material impact on the balance of payments.

Amongst other things.

The way I see it, the drug problem is more than just another case of mutant capitalism gone rampant. It is a terrifying voyage into the unknown, and people who get killed along the way are just gonna be replaced as long as people can beg, borrow or steal a ticket aboard.

But I have the solution - legalise all drugs.

"What's that," you say, "surely this is more than just a tad controversial?"

That's right. Legalise them all. This would alleviate all of the problems above.


1. A legalised, yet highly regulated drug market would result in less deaths as people would only consume the drugs that they require for a buzz, consuming product free from impurities that often are the cause of many fatalities. Education would need to be provided, and this would be provided at schools and this would be provided at next-to-no additional cost to the taxpayer as most of the information that is already taught in schools could be readily expanded upon. Packaging could include health warnings - "Speed kills", "E-ing is a health hazard" and "Heroin may cause cardiac arrest". It would be priceless - anyone who got past all that is basically too stupid to live, anyway.

2. Readily available drugs would put the drug barons out of business, at least in this country, freeing up police resources for more abhorrent crime, like murder and rape. Customs officers can get back to less frivolous activities, like stopping arms, disease and exotic botanical diseases coming into the country.

3. Groups like the Mafia, the Triads, the 5Ts and the Yakuza would be forced into more legitimate activities as a result of their high priced drugs of questionable quality not finding buyers. Consequently;

4. Crime would reduce. This would also be as a result of less home invasions and burglaries, hold-ups, muggings and other anti-social activity caused by illicit drug activity.

5. No longer would we have billions of Australian dollars flowing out of the country. This can only help our financial situation as Australian money goes back into Australian grown drugs, which would employ a multitude of people and put some acceleration into the economy. The Australian government could own all the factors of production themselves, giving them direct control of something which, lets face it, they have absolutely no control over at the moment. There would be no need to tax this industry as the profits would be going into financing the next budget deficit that the government claims is a surplus because of the inclusion of extraordinary items like the selling off of public utilities to foreign investors. But I digress.

The most opposition to this plan wouldn't come from the Australian voter, surprisingly, but the likes of the Americans and other countries with strong anti-drug stances.

This is ironic, because the current wave of the world's drug trade is said to have got its kick off from the American government selling drugs illegally in the fifties in a bid to reduce the wealth of black neighbourhoods. Photos of places like Harlem, the Bronx, and South Central Los Angeles from the thirties and forties show relatively wealthy suburbs of major US cities. It has been revealed that drugs were sold by the CIA in these neighbourhoods for two reasons - the first one racially inspired, and the second financially inspired. The CIA used the money generated by their foray into peddling to fund a lot of their activities.

The implications of drug legalisation are so strongly in favour of legalisation, considering that most costs to society would be actually reduced if drugs were legalised. Considering alcohol and tobacco's costs to society relative to their benefits, I can see that the only people who would have a right to feel strongly against drug legalisation would be the big multinational pharmaceutical companies.