Does misunderstanding mean we’ll never agree?

I often find myself arguing with drug prohibitionists (no surprise there) and the conversations usually peter out without any real progress having been made on either side. I also find that prohibitionists usually cite the harms they say are caused by drug use as the main reason for continuing prohibition.

My view is very different because I put the harms caused by prohibition; avoidable death and disease, more dangerous drugs produced and supplied by criminals, crime, corruption, massive criminal profits, huge costs, damage to human rights, ostracism, criminal convictions, wasted law enforcement efforts, etc. alongside the potential harms of drug use.

Because I bear in mind the need to balance these factors, and I believe that is the morally sound position, I am content that after the end of prohibition a controlled and regulated system might result in some more users but, as that use would be much safer, overall harm would be less. (It is by no means certain that there will be more users, particularly if resources are diverted from law enforcement to honest education, successful prevention and social support.) In addition the harmful consequences of prohibition would be substantially reduced if not eliminated.

I do sometimes wonder whether my point of view is properly understood. If it isn’t I hope it will be, and if it is I look forward to a balanced debate that takes all parties further forward and away from the mess we’re in at the moment.


About tomclloyd

International Drug Policy Adviser and former UK Chief Constable
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