Welcome to the new age. 2023 is upon us and flying cars, time travel and the new annoyingly addictive social media platform is surely imminently round the corner. However, 2023 may also be the year for something else. 2022 had many cases of drug legalizations around the world, and it’s likely that there will be more to come this year.
That’s why – in this article – we’re going to remember why drug legalization is important. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why removing a ban on substances can actually lead to a lot of positives. With the new year finally here, let’s remind ourselves. Why should we legalize drugs in 2023?
We are entering 2023 with a world that has shifted its opinion on many previously illegal substances. Cannabis is now fully legal in 21 out of 50 US states and last year Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize it. Germany is also very close to being the biggest and most powerful nation in Europe to legalize weed, which would surely trigger a huge influence over the rest of Europe. In addition, drugs such as ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin are all being researched for their benefits treating anxiety and depression. Many nations are now allowing drug-assisted therapy.
Ultimately, 2022 was a good year for substance legalization but there’s still a long way to go. That is why it’s important to remind ourselves why drug legalization is important in the first place. When we go through these list of reasons, it’s important to note that it should all be acknowledged with a pinch of nuance. No one is suggesting that we wake up tomorrow and legalize every substance under the sun.
Instead, what is advised is a gradual move away from the failed ‘War on Drugs’ agenda that has successfully continued drug use, death, addiction, crime and incarceration without doing any of the good that it apparently set out to do. We need to educate and facilitate people in understanding what substances are and the benefits they can have, as well as the dangers of them. Project Syndicate writes:
“By fostering a more accurate, nuanced, and holistic understanding of drugs and drug use among the public – including, crucially, health-care professionals – education campaigns can go a long way toward advancing this goal. Such campaigns should acknowledge, for starters, the socio-cultural, historical, and even religious dimensions of drug use.”
It is counterproductive to teach kids about the dangers of drugs, when they are fully aware that there are an increasing number of cases where substances are being used to help people. You are essentially lying to the youth of today if you do not also accept these facts. Drug acceptance could do a lot of good for the world. Here’s why.
10 Reasons to Legalize Drugs
1 – Increased safety
One of the main arguments in favour of legalizing drugs is that it can increase safety for both individuals and society as a whole. When drugs are illegal, they are often produced and sold by criminal organizations, which can lead to violence and corruption. By legalizing and regulating drugs, the production and distribution of these substances can be made safer, reducing the risks associated with their use. Look at Amsterdam or California for example, people can now walk into designated shops to purchase their cannabis, rather than having go down dark alleys to secretly meet an unlicensed stranger. It also means that those selling the substances are not in danger of being sentenced. This moves us on to our second point.
2 – Decreased drug-related crime
Drug-related crime is a significant problem in many countries, and legalization could help to reduce it. When drugs are illegal, people who use them or sell them are, by default, criminals. In the US, there are around 1.5 million drug arrests every year. The majority of these are for minor offences. This is a waste of time for both the users and the authorities. In addition, those who consume illegal drugs can often turn to crime in order to pay for their habit. By making drugs legal and more affordable, the incentive to engage in criminal activity in order to obtain them would be reduced.
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3 – Increased tax revenue
Legalizing drugs would also generate significant tax revenue for governments. This revenue could be used to fund treatment programs, harm reduction initiatives, and other public health initiatives aimed at reducing the negative consequences of drug use. The Netherlands makes around 400 million euros a year from cannabis sales, and the US makes a whopping 11 million dollars per annum. All of this money would be going to illegal organisations if it wasn’t for cannabis being legal. This would be the same with other substances that are also used for medicinal purposes – including ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin. A country can make a lot of money from tax revenue if they decide to legalize these substances.
4 – Improved access to treatment
Legalizing drugs could also improve access to treatment for those who are struggling with addiction. When drugs are illegal, people who are addicted may be reluctant to seek help for fear of legal consequences. By making drugs legal and more widely available, it may be easier for people to access treatment and support for their addiction. It’s hard for people to admit to their friends and families they have an issue, especially when that issue is technically illegal. But if a substance is legal, it might be perhaps easier for someone to admit and seek assistance.
5 – Reduced stigma
This is similar to the previous reason, but it actually picks up on a larger issue. The stigma surrounding drug use can be a major barrier to seeking help for addiction. Legalizing drugs could help to reduce this stigma, as it would shift the focus from the criminalization of drug use to a more health-oriented approach. This could make it easier for people to seek help and support for their addiction without fear of judgement or discrimination. Many people still have a very old fashioned and traditional view on substance use, especially those who have never tried them before. Many world leaders claim to have never tried any recreational drug in their lives, and yet they are the ones deciding on integral drug laws which will affect millions of people. The stigma and fear around drugs needs to stop, and nuance needs to be injected into the conversation.
6 – Improved public health
Legalizing drugs could also have positive public health implications. When drugs are illegal, they are often produced and sold on the black market, which means that their quality is often uncertain. By legalizing and regulating drugs, the quality and safety of these substances could be improved, reducing the risk of overdose and other negative health consequences. To cut the cost, many dealers mix substances with others in order to save money. This can sometimes cause undesired deaths. With a legal market, people would know exactly what their drugs contain and can stay safe.
7 – Decreased burden on law enforcement
The war on drugs has placed a significant burden on law enforcement resources, with many police departments devoting a significant amount of time and resources to drug-related investigations and arrests. Many of these cases lead to a simple warning and not much else, which is essentially a waste of time for everyone involved. Legalizing drugs would allow law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues that actually require their attention. Carly Barton – a cannabis activist in the UK – created the cannabis card for this very reason. As weed is illegal recreationally but legal medically in the UK, she created a card which would prove to authorities that users had been prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes. This stopped a great deal of time wasting.
8 – Decreased incarceration rates
As previously mentioned, the War on Drugs has also contributed to high incarceration rates, particularly for non-violent drug offences. Legalizing drugs could help to reduce these rates, freeing up space in prisons and saving governments money on the cost of incarceration. The more illegal substances, the more prisons will be full of people who are using these substances. Drug users should be helped, not put in prison. Again, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.
9 – Increased personal freedom
It’s odd that a nation like America, that allows for each citizen to own a gun, does not also allow for the use of drugs. Some argue that the prohibition of drugs infringes on individuals’ personal freedom and autonomy. By making drugs legal, individuals would be able to make their own decisions about what substances they consume, as long as they do not harm others. Treating a population like children who are not allowed to eat sweets does not work. Millions of people still use drugs, regardless of if it’s accepted or not. Why not allow people to make up their own minds?
10 – Improved relations with other countries
The War on Drugs has divided many nations around the world. Some see it as the ideal methodology, others are hugely critical of it. If the world had a consensus on drug law approach, perhaps it would cause some real change. Opposing views has had negative consequences in terms of international relations and caused tensions. The Netherlands, for instance, are tired of being used as a drug tourist destination due to the rest of Europe’s substance laws. Thousands travel to Amsterdam every year to smoke weed and eat magic truffles due to the conservative laws everywhere else on the continent. A common global approach would do good for international relations.
There you have it. 10 reasons why legalizing drugs in 2023 is the right idea. Hopefully this year brings more substance acceptance, and we continue to move slowly towards a better world.
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