A few excerpts from Chris Berg’s great article on drug policy:
It doesn’t take more than a moment of thought to recognise that the rulings on which drugs are legal or illegal are governed by no particular logic.
No theory from medicine or philosophy or psychology demands alcohol, tobacco and caffeine must be legal while marijuana, cocaine, and heroin must be prohibited.
Whether a drug is illegal is nothing more than an accident of history. Drug laws were not written dispassionately by a panel of the best medical and ethical minds in the world. The laws bear no relation to the damage those drugs could cause or their danger to society – they were not written to minimise harm or protect health.
Quite the opposite: the current schedule of drugs in the Western world has been driven by politics, expediency, prejudice, and sometimes outright racism.
But the biggest cultural barrier to such reform is the current status illegal drugs have. In the sort of circular reasoning that only popular discourse can manage, the prohibition of drugs is mostly justified by their pre-existing legal status. Why are certain drugs prohibited? Because they are illicit drugs.
But that status has been set by politics and moral panics, not dispassionate evidence-based risk assessments. Drug prohibition carries the legacy of the ugly politics of the past. Once we realise that, we may start to rethink the justice of a war that is, in truth, not against drugs, but against drug users.