The Case Against Legalization 

The Case Against Legalization 
Posted by FoM on October 28, 1999 at 09:12:18 PT
The U.N.'s drug czar on supply and demand
Source: Newsweek
Legalization? the member states of the united nations vote "No." Making all controlled substances readily available is a risk society clearly wants to avoid. 
Instead, as expressed in the three U.N. conventions on controlling drugs, we should insist that our governments pursue a balanced strategy on drugs, giving attention to both supply and demand. This approach was soundly endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly last year in its Special Session on drugs. Still, the legalization debate continues. Let's examine the arguments.First, the medical argument. No one disagrees that many controlled substances have legitimate and completely legal medical applications. But there are various degrees of control, based on the degree of risk involved. In an ideal world, the risk would be determined on scientific grounds. In the real world, cultural and political factors also matter. The U.N. conventions reflect that; they can be amended in response to a consensus shift concerning the appropriate degree of control over given substances.Proponents of legalization cite the link between drugs and crime. It's true that short-term crime rates would fall if illegal drug markets disappeared. But the big-time criminals would quickly regroup and find other sources of profits—as they are already doing by expanding into corruption, extortion and trafficking in human beings. On the other hand, legalization would certainly increase the rate of abuse. After the introduction of legal opium into China, more than one quarter of the adult male population smoked it. These days, the easy availability and cheap price of heroin—made from opium produced mainly in neighboring Afghanistan—has given Pakistan one of the world's highest heroin-addiction rates. The same problem is occurring in Iran, where there are now 1 million addicts—about the same number as in Western Europe.Advocates of legalization often argue that alcohol and tobacco cause more harm to society—higher death rates, higher medical costs—than outlawed drugs. This is correct. But so what? Research has shown that, out of the 100 million U.S. alcohol consumers, 15 percent suffer long-term consequences. Heroin, unlike tobacco and alcohol, causes long-term consequences—as addiction—for almost all the people who use it.Until recently, most drug-control efforts concentrated on eliminating the supply, by hitting the trafficking routes and the source of raw materials. Today, policymakers unanimously believe that supply and demand must be addressed. There are signs that this may be working. In Europe, for example, heroin-use rates are static, and the average age of addicts is steadily increasing. In the United States, there has been a strong decrease of cocaine addiction. The next generation may be getting the message.Arlacchi is executive director of the U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.By Pino ArlacchiNewsweek International, November 1, 1999 © 1999 Newsweek, Inc. Related Article:Europeans Just Say 'Maybe' - 10/25/99
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Comment #2 posted by rob earing on October 28, 1999 at 14:41:34 PT:
Alrighty,just want to question 1 statistic.Arlachi states that 15% of users suffer long term consequences from drinking alcohol and/or smoking cigarettes.This is odd because the biggest causes of death and disease in western civilization are caused by heart disease and cancer.This would lead one to conclude that smoking is almost always fatal,not 15% fatal.How many heroin users die because of heroin?I would conjecture that it is far fewer than the almost 100% of smokers that die from smoking.
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Comment #1 posted by observer on October 28, 1999 at 12:48:00 PT
self serving?
> Arlacchi is executive director of the U.N. Office for > Drug Control and Crime Prevention.Can you say "vested interest" ?
see: The Media Awareness Project
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