Argentina legalises drug use.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by mon_colonel, Sep 4, 2009.

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  1. From the Guardian, Argentina to legalise drug use, and other South American countries look set to follow suite, the article makes some very valid points in favour, and I'm sure Arrsers will have their own views on this.

    I guess it had to happen this way. The greatest social menace of the new century is not terrorism but drugs, and it is the poor who will have to lead the revolution. The global trade in illicit narcotics ranks with that in oil and arms. Its prohibition wrecks the lives of wealthy and wretched, east and west alike. It fills jails, corrupts politicians and plagues nations. It finances wars from Afghanistan to Colombia. It is utterly mad.

    There is no sign of reform emanating from the self-satisfied liberal democracies of west Europe or north America. Reform is not mentioned by Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel. Their countries can sustain prohibition, just, by extravagant penal repression and by sweeping the consequences underground. Politicians will smirk and say, as they did in their youth, that they can "handle" drugs.

    No such luxury is available to the political economies of Latin America. They have been wrecked by Washington's demand that they stop exporting drugs to fuel America's unregulated cocaine market. It is like trying to stop traffic jams by imposing an oil ban in the Gulf.

    Push has finally come to shove. Last week the Argentine supreme court declared in a landmark ruling that it was "unconstitutional" to prosecute citizens for having drugs for their personal use. It asserted in ringing terms that "adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state". This classic statement of civil liberty comes not from some liberal British home secretary or Tory ideologue. They would not dare. The doctrine is adumbrated by a regime only 25 years from dictatorship.

    Nor is that all. The Mexican government has been brought to its knees by a drug-trafficking industry employing some 500,000 workers and policed by 5,600 killings a year, all to supply America's gargantuan appetite and Mexico's lesser one. Three years ago, Mexico concluded that prison for drug possession merely criminalised a large slice of its population. Drug users should be regarded as "patients, not criminals".

    Next to the plate step Brazil and Ecuador. Both are quietly proposing to follow suit, fearful only of offending America's drug enforcement bureaucracy, now a dominant presence in every South American capital. Ecuador has pardoned 1,500 "mules" – women used by the gangs to transport cocaine over international borders. Britain, still in the dark ages, locks these pathetic women up in Holloway for years on end.

    Brazil's former president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, co-authored the recent Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. He declares the emperor naked. "The tide is turning," he says. "The war-on-drugs strategy has failed." A Brazilian judge, Maria Lucia Karam, of the lobby group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, tells the Guardian: "The only way to reduce violence in Mexico, Brazil or anywhere else is to legalise the production, supply and consumption of all drugs."

    America spends a reported $70bn a year on suppressing drug imports, and untold billions on prosecuting its own citizens for drugs offences. Yet the huge profits available to Latin American traffickers have financed a quarter-century of civil war in Colombia and devastating social disruption in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Similar profits are aiding the war in Afghanistan and killing British soldiers.

    The underlying concept of the war on drugs, initiated by Richard Nixon in the 1970s, is that demand can be curbed by eliminating supply. It has been enunciated by every US president and every British prime minister. Tony Blair thought that by occupying Afghanistan he could rid the streets of Britain of heroin. He told Clare Short to do it. Gordon Brown believes it to this day.

    This concept marries intellectual idiocy – that supply leads demand – with practical impossibility. But it is golden politics. For 30 years it has allowed western politicians to shift blame for not regulating drug abuse at home on to the shoulders of poor countries abroad. It is gloriously, crashingly immoral.

    The Latin American breakthrough is directed at domestic drug users, but this is only half the battle. There is no rational justification for making consumption legal but not the supply of what is consumed. We do not cure nicotine addiction by banning the Zimbabwean tobacco crop.

    The absurdity of this position was illustrated by this week's "good news" that the 2009 Afghan poppy harvest had fallen back to its 2005 level. This was taken as a sign both that poppy eradication was "working" and that depriving Afghan peasants of their most lucrative cash crop somehow wins their hearts and minds and impoverishes the Taliban.

    The Afghan poppy crop is largely a function of the price of poppies compared with that of wheat. The only time policy has disrupted this potent market was in 2001, when the old Taliban responded to American pressure by ruthlessly suppressing supply. Since the Nato occupation it has boomed, inevitably polluting Kabul politics and plunging western diplomats and commentators into hypocrisy over Hamid Karzai's corrupt regime. What did they think would happen?

    The crop has shrunk because the wheat price has risen and the recession has dampened European demand. It will rise again. The policy of Nato and the UN's economically illiterate drug tsar, Antonio Maria Costa, of treating Afghan opium as the cause of heroin addiction, not a response to it, means trying to break supply routes and stamp out criminal gangs. It has failed, merely increasing heroin's risk premium. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. Water does not flow uphill, however much global bureaucrats pay each other to pretend otherwise.

    The trade in drugs is a direct result of their unregulated availability on the streets of Europe and America. Making supply illegal is worse than pointless. It oils a black market, drives trade underground, cross-subsidises other crime and leaves consumers at the mercy of poisons. It is the politics of stupid. The incarceration (pdf) of thousands of poor people (11,000 in England and Wales alone) also deprives economies of a large labour pool.

    As the Brazilian judge pointed out, the tide of violence associated with any illegal trade will not abate by only licensing consumption. The mountain that must be climbed is licensing, regulating and taxing supply, thus ending a prohibition now outstripping in absurdity and damage America's alcohol prohibition between the wars.

    From the the deaths of British troops in Helmand to the narco-terrorism of Mexico and the mules cramming London's jails, the war on drugs can be seen only as a total failure, a vast self-imposed cost on western society. It is the greatest sweeping-under-the-carpet of our age.

    The desperate politicians of Latin America have at last found the courage to grasp the nettle. Will Britain? According to the UN, it has the highest number of problem drug users in Europe. I imagine Gordon Brown and David Cameron agree with the Argentine supreme court, but they are too frightened to say so, let alone promise reform. In all they do they are guided by fear.

    I sometimes realise that, if Britain still had the death penalty, no current political leader would have the guts to abolish it.
  2. Will legalising it do any good though?
  3. It can't make the problem any worse than it already is, as the article says the "war on drugs" has acheived nothing for all the billions spent on fighting the drug trade, time to try something else !
  4. I can't see that legalising cannabis would do any more harm then alcohol, certainly no one refers to skunk as 'wife-beater', not sure about legalising sh1t like heroin or crystal meth or other dodgy stuff like that...
  5. Why not? If individuals really want to take such substances, and are made aware of the risks, who are we to say no? It's their body to abuse as they see fit.

    Prohibition Look at America in the 20's. If drugs were legalised or de-criminalised, the reduction in criminal activity would be huge. Who loses out aside from people like the DEA and scumbag narco-terrorists?
  6. More importantly-

    Will it bring the price of Charlie down? it's been consistently overpriced for f ucking years, and the miserable "point 8's" being flogged as grammes these days are so badly cut it's shocking.
  7. Interestingly, the US Government has developed a fungus that kills the Coca plant.

    Now, some cynics would suggest the reason they haven't used to it wipe out the Cocaine problem in one fell swoop is that there are too many vested interests in the US that stand to lose if they did. DEA & Co would be out of a job, the CIA would no longer be able to covertly fund their dirty wars via the Cocaine trade.
  8. This was my idea, they stole it!
    I'm suing!
  9. Notebooks found in Colonel Oliver North had entries stating $14 million had been raised by him to fund the Contras by drug trafficking.
  10. Argentina to become Huxley's "Brave New World" , the simple irony of all this is is that three of the most addictive drugs known to man are legally available and heavilly taxed in this country already, those obviously being nicotine, alcohol and believe it or not caffeine. Problem being with the first two is that the government has a double standard on these and no doubt in a court battle would lose any claim against them for any harm done. All the labelling to explain the dangers and health risks on the cig packets and cans/bottles of booze, all the TV ad campaigns and such are a legal smokescreen to show the government is showing a "duty of care" and as such they seem to think this indemnifies them from any responsibility, whilst quite happily extracting the year per year increased duty they enforce on these products.
    They realise that people get addicted and as such know it's an easy earner because raising duty on things that people have become dependent on to whatever degree, in an almost Marxist manner makes them work alot harder, as they simply have too not only to pay for things like fuel to get to work (which also goes up) and other items such as basic foodstuffs which with the snowball effect also go up. So what happens, persons gets more stressed and to relax fancies a bottle of wine and a few cigs!!!! da da money in the bank! These people are not stupid, it is the same with this "new" binge drinking campaign, thats just basic child psychology, teamed up with the labels on the bottles etc, What happens if you tell a child that something is bad for them, or put a sign up saying it's dangerous??? Too right they employ the basic human instinct of curiosity and think why is it, I bet it's fun really. The drugs education in schools also contributes to this somewhat, because alongside the pictures of forked up kids which obviously are distressing and the mind blocks out, they are told the effects of drugs and alcohol, most of which sound pretty good to be fair, after all we wouldn't drink if it didn't make us more relaxed and less socially inhibited would we, we wouldn't smoke if it didn't make us feel relaxed and less stressed. It's an outrageous scam that has been going on in this country for years.
    There are obvious health risks as most people are well aware, however you can also die from things like Capsicum poisoning, the substance found in chillies which give them their heat, people can get addicted to hot foods because of the sense of euphoria some of these dishes give, are they gona put a massive tax on chillies next too. The system is corrupt ,plain and simple.

  11. I believe that at one point in the 60's, the CIA's private airforce was the biggest drugs shippers in the world. The Nationalist Chinese warlords in the Iron Triangle were CIA protected and their main source of clandestine income.
  12. I've been told on numerous occasions that if alcohol had only been discovered/misused within the past say, 100 years or so then it would certainly be a class A drug, but due to the fact that it's so ingrained into our culture and also would effect a whole host of industries that they can't get rid of it. Same in most countries world wide.
  13. If it was legalised then it would be another stream of taxation into the coffers. It is up to the individual what he/she does to their body but it is the rest of us that have to pick up the bill when it goes wrong. Are the general population prepared to pay for that?
  14. My feeling is that in part these Southern American nation states are motivated by a desire to get the US DEA out of their hair and to give the Americans one less excuse to criticise them and poke about in their sovereignty with all the concomitant opportunities for black ops by the CIA. God knows drugs do enough harm. But so does putting billions of dollars into the hands of very dodgy drug over lords (witness the Af). The Mafia was created as a substantial financial institution by the prohibition. These guys might be very clever in legalising the stuff.
  15. Will the legalisation be extended to the Malvinas?