Is there an alternative for the current tactics employed to tackle criminal activity and social problems in relation to illicit substance abuse? Could a rash change in strategy and legislation favour a more salutary society as opposed to the current pejorative? In order to envision a silhouette of an alternative, it is important firstly to scrutinise the efficacy of the current framework.
The ‘war on drugs’ was the term famously coined by U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1971 as an impetus to ignite a global epidemic that has only ever worsened, consistently, on a yearly basis since the day of its inauguration. The ‘war’ itself is quite obviously counter-productive. It is designed to empower criminals and, incidentally, opens the floodgates to spur on more crime whilst simultaneously putting innocent civilians at risk. The genocidal warfare has claimed no meritable honours in its 44 years of reigning terror, a lavish fail if ever there was one!
The man that sparked ‘the war on drugs’
Due to the widespread illegality of controlled substances such as heroin and cannabis, the industry is governed by criminal figures and so happens to be quite poorly regulated. Imagine trying to buy a one week supply of groceries without presenting cash or a viable bank card or imagine trying to buy several rounds of drinks at a bar with no tangible currency at play. The chances are that one would simply be refused service on grounds of inefficient funds. The same standards are often not applied when it comes to shopping for goods on the black market. One of the most considerable issues regarding the illegal drugs trade is the pervasive feasibility for sales/purchases on credit at virtually all levels of the hierarchy. The accumulation of precarious credit at every interval on the spectrum of the trade favours a vicious cycle of volatility. It also serves as a recruitment portal for subordinates that need to produce a surplus of tangible cash in order to neutralise deficits acquired through frivolous drug use. Financially irresponsible people that indulge in toxic substances are at high risk of falling victim to the ills of the law. Compiling small debts can encourage the frivolous user to engage in criminal activity in order to procure enough capital to break even. Shoplifting, theft and dealing illegal substances luminate the troubled mind of the frivolous user in distress. A short-lived career as a lackey in the game can lead the inferior player to insurmountable debts, which in turn can lead them to more serious crimes as a means of procuring more serious cash. This is one of the fatal flaws that the system imposes. The minion winds up in trouble with the law, the big fish escapes unscathed, supply and demand for the substances doesn’t falter and therefore nobody is a winner.
The Cartel DO NOT ask youths for I.D.
Could an alternative based on decriminalisation of illicit substances mollify the plight that plagues the land? On a superficial inspection, there appears to be a vast number of reasons that would favour a radical change. The market could be regulated and controlled by responsible bodies rather than dangerous villains. Strict policies could be enforced to render it more difficult for young people to obtain harmful intoxicants. Wishful thinking will tell us that it’s easier for children to acquire alcohol than it is for them to acquire drugs, this unfortunately contradicts the truth, because the truth is that many children can obtain illicit substances from an unauthorised vendor more easily than they can buy booze from an off-license. A responsible body would also aim to provide clean, unattenuated substances to minimise risk for users. It’s bad enough for a sick individual to be addicted to putting harmful substances up their nose or into their veins, it’s worse yet to put them at further risk by selling them cheap, synthetic flesh-eating substances disguised as unalloyed heroin. Krokodil is one of the nasty products pawned off by drug dealers as heroin in Eastern Europe and it has been responsible for the deaths of innumerable addicts in recent years. A responsible body simply wouldn’t stock such a thing in its repertoire.
Killer Krokodil or Heroin?
Taking the trade from the hands of the villains and placing it into the pragmatic palm of a well thought out revolutionary body that provides a safer, well regulated market for people that are unfortunate enough to be classified as ‘users’ could be a stepping stone to a more innocuous future. Revenue generated from tax and saved from policing could be used to help cure the problem. Addiction lies within the person and not within the substance. The real problem therefore is not any substance in itself, but rather the attitudes we have towards the substance. The real solution to the problem is education, good quality education and this is where we could allocate the newly found funding in a bid to curtail a problem that has burdened us for too long. Funding could also provide for much needed rehabilitation centres all across the country. If it is possible to significantly reduce the number of tobacco consumers as it has been, then it is surely possible to reduce crime and risk regarding other harmful substances.
Maybe decriminalisation and responsible regulation is too radical a step just for now, but the fact that innocent civilians can be caught in the crossfire, in cases of mistaken identity, by gun toting lunatics feuding over debts, means that it’s definitely time for some sort of change. The law ought to be rewired to protect innocent bystanders rather than leave them exposed to the dangers of a ‘war’ that they don’t want to fight.