11 reasons for a better drug policy
Prohibition is pointless
The Dutch drug policy has become more and more repressive in the course of the last decades. But to what end? Drugs are more available and cheaper than ever. Whether you are pro or against drugs, this policy has failed. We call for a realistic and open dialogue.
Drug enforcement is expensive
Drug enforcement is taking up at least half of the capacity of the police and judicial system. In addition, three quarters of all criminal investigations is drug-related. Even a conservative guess would set the costs on 4.5 billion euros per year, excluding the costs of criminal activity for the rest of society. There is a better way to spend that money: education and aid for the unfortunate individual who is not able to control himself.
Source: Tijdschrift voor Politie
Regulation means more tax income
Regulation will not just cut the costs of enforcement, it also leads to more state income. You could levy tax on drugs: estimations vary between 260 and 160 million euros. Of course, a portion of this will go to quality control and education, but the rest can be spend on schools, hospitals, cultural institutes… you name it!
Medical innovation is held back
The current drug policy holds medical innovation back. There is an increase in successful experiments with psychoactive drugs in therapy. A prohibition of drugs would stop this development. At the same time, it would not stop the production of undesired new substances. The possibilities to create those substances are endless, so there will always be new psychoactive drugs. The RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) strongly advised against the prohibition, but this advise is intentionally ignored.
Consumers are not criminals
It is a misconception that drug related crime could be eradicated by force, because there will always be a demand for drugs. It is like abolishing sex, because people could get a STD. 23.4% of Dutch has used drugs at least once in their life. That is 4 million people. In 2019, 9.1% of Dutch used drugs, 1.5 million people. Should we label such a large group as ‘abnormal’? Are they all criminals?
Calling for prohibition is mere rhetoric
Most drug users treat their use with care. They make a deliberate choice to relax for an evening, like they would choose to drink alcohol: responsibly. The current repressive policy is not here to protect them, it is only to show the toughness of the politicians.
Drugs are not the real problem
Recently, politicians tend to point their finger at the drug users. They supposedly sustain a criminal circuit with their use. Yet, it is the prohibition of drugs that sustains this. An illegal market naturally draws criminals in – there is money to be made here and breaking the law is nothing new for them. Others are sucked into the world of drugs, because they live in a poor environment. Those are the real problems, not drugs.
Disposal of chemical waste should be taken care of
The production of drugs creates chemical waste. Now, this is often disposed of in nature, because the substances are illegal. Plants and animals suffer the consequences and the waste invades our groundwater. Cleaning costs 2 to 3 million euros per year. When drugs are legalized, this waste disposal could be regulated. Harmful substances can be disposed of safely in the same way medical drugs are treated.
Public health is threatened
According to our politicians, a prohibition of drugs is good for public health. On the contrary, a pill only becomes popular when it is seen as safe and qualitative. The market cleanses itself from products with detrimental side-effects. Moreover, there are great differences between the effects and side-effects of drugs. When drugs would be legal, we could set limits for their use, production and distribution: i.e. a ‘drug pass’, an age limit or a maximum percentage of active substance per product. If drugs remain illegal, distribution happens on the street. The quality is uncertain. That is not only unnerving, it is dangerous.
Source: Ministerie van VWS
Not all drugs are the same
Cocaine is a completely different drug than XTC, and XTC is very different from LSD. The feeling you get, the dependency it induces, the side-effects – they are like chocolate, crisps and olives: all snacks, but the taste is completely different. Yet, the current policy treats all drugs as if they are hard drugs. This is illogical and unfair.
We have the right to choose
Finally, there is the ideological question: why does the state determine whether we use drugs? Every year, tobacco or alcohol causes way more victims than psychoactive drugs. Just being in traffic is even more dangerous. You don’t harm anyone by taking a pill once in a while. You should be able to do so.