The famed British Medical Journal—one of the world's oldest medical journals—and an international commission of medical experts are both in favor of legalizing, regulating, and taxing all drugs. This week, they wrote, “The global trade in illicit drugs is worth £236 billion [$319 billion], but this money fuels organized crime and human misery. Why should it not instead fund public services?”
Vice outlined a few of the problems surrounding drugs, and why dismantling prohibition is key. The first problem: drugs are unregulated, which causes misuse and perpetuates the shame associated with any type of use. The second: crime is closely linked to drug use, and the way drugs are distributed boosts violence. This goes for users, petty dealers, and big players.
The third problem: the environmental effects of drug production, which can lead to rainforest destruction (i.e. the Amazon). And the fourth problem: the billions of dollars used to fight the unending, untenable war on drugs, when that money could go toward treatment for substance abusers.
Indeed, one caveat remains: “legalizing all drugs” doesn’t mean providing the same accessibility to all drugs. But strict prohibition isn’t helping the problem, either. The U.K.’s number of drug-use deaths is the largest on record, while overdose deaths in the U.S. are steadily on the rise and one in five prisoners are imprisoned for drug offenses, many of which are nonviolent.