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January 31, 2007


EB Christen

Wonderful article - again great historical perspective and excellent research on current facts and statistics. I have one addition. There are two facets to the 'legalisation' of drugs.

One is the 'legalisation' of drugs proper which implies that drugs are legal in the fullest sense of the word. The other, which has been used successfully in many places, is to 'de-criminalise' drugs.

Thus, for example, in a society where drugs were legalised, someone in possession of cocaine or marijuana would be fully entitled to such possession. Whereas, in a society with de-criminalised drugs, someone in possession of marijuana or cocaine would be subject to a fine akin to a speeding ticket or parking ticket. It is a compromise position that has made it possible to remove minor drug offences from the criminal courts and prison system while not 'fully' condoning such behaviour in the eyes of the 'moral' majority.

It is usually easier to pass the latter as a reform measure. The problem is that much of this debate, as you aptly quoted Mr. Harris, "...is so outrageously unwise as to almost defy rational comment." One can only imagine the howlings of the morally bankrupt Christian council. The fact, no matter how they would slice it, is that minor offenders are put into the same prison with hardened offenders, that the courts are currently overburdened with minor penalties and the police are overstretched. Nothing the Council says will change these FACTS - solutions on how to deal with them are few and far between - but drug policy reform is one. Then again, the Christian Council is opposed to a national lottery, so the depth of their moralistic ineptitude is truly unfathomable. I can only dream of a day when the Bahamian people see these charlatan 'moral' hooligans for what they really are. Until that day, drug reform has little chance of becoming the reality that prudent and practical political, social and economic analysts understand it to be.

I, personally, fully support the legalisation of drugs, but I think an initial movement towards de-criminalisation would be a more sensible policy for the Bahamas in the short term.

Thanks again for your excellent article.

larry smith

Decriminalisation means tolerating the retail drug trade while still banning the wholesale trade. That is what happened during Prohibition in the US - it wasn't a crime to drink, just manufacture or sell. But it didn't stop the crime, violence and corruption issues.

The Netherlands and Canada are among countries that tolerate the retail cannabis trade.

Your earlier comment is probably right that there is no way we can deal with this issue in isolation from the US.

joan thompson

Excellent article today.

It never ceases to amaze how many still believe "government knows best".

The real criminals are not the drug users (until they steal and kill)but the politicians that enact laws taking away personal freedoms.

I thought you might like to read the plea Milton Friedman sent to Bill Bennett when he was drug Czar from March 1989 to November 1990.

"Dear Bill,

"In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken' - about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish."

He went on: "You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and
illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft, and assault."

I am sorry Dr. Friedman did not lived long enough to see drugs decriminalized as surely one day they must.

Who among us understand the principles he so eloquently proposed; human liberty and individual freedom.


Right on, man!

teenage drug rehab

I agree with it If we legalize drugs, there will still be a revenue stream. Whoever gets that revenue will try to maximize it. Thanks for this post.


Affiliate Promotion

thats not a secret people have used drugs for religion, recreation and medicine since prehistoric times, with opium having perhaps the longest pedigree... now why they do all that troubleshoot around that now???

prescription drug abuse

I agree that criminalization forces users to obtain drugs from an environment that is violent and where crime is inevitable. It inflates revenues, increases the power of criminal gangs and requires ever greater enforcement efforts. thank you for the post.


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