One of the World's Most Prestigious Medical Journals Just Called for Legalizing All Drugs

Embracing a harm reduction and public health perspective, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals has released a signed editorial calling for the legalization, taxation, and regulation of currently illegal drugs.

In a editorial last Thursday entitled Drugs Should Be Legalised, Regulated, and Taxed, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, notes that under drug prohibition, the global trade "fuels organized crime and human misery," and asks, "Why should it not instead fund public services?"

Citing an opinion piece in the same issue of the BMJ from British members of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP, formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) Jason Reed and Paul Whitehouse, Godlee notes that in the United Kingdom (as in the United States) "vast sums are spent prosecuting individuals and trying vainly to interrupt the flow of drugs into cities" while that money would be much better "spent on quality control, education, treatment for drug users, and child protection." Under legalization, "revenues could be diverted from criminal gangs into government coffers," she writes.

Godlee notes that the global drug prohibition consensus is fraying around the edges, and points to the example of Portugal, which decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001. There, drug use remains in line with levels in other European countries, but the harms associated with drug use under prohibition have decreased dramatically, particularly in terms of fatal drug overdoses and the spread of injection drug-related infectious disease.

Godlee also pointed to the Netherlands, the United States, and soon, Canada, where "regulated markets for the sale of cannabis generate substantial tax revenues."

Again returning to the opinion piece by Reed and Whitehouse, Godlee writes that "when law enforcement officers call for drugs to be legalized, we have to listen." Ditto for when doctors speak up, she adds, noting that just last month, the Royal College of Physicians came out in favor of drug decriminalization, joining the British Medical Association, the Faculty of Public Health, and the Royal Society of Public Health in supporting drug policy reform.

"This is not about whether you think drugs are good or bad," Godlee concludes. "It is an evidence based position entirely in line with the public health approach to violent crime… The BMJ is firmly behind efforts to legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of drugs for recreational and medicinal use. This is an issue on which doctors can and should make their voices heard."

Unfortunately for the BMJ and the other public health advocates, as in the United States, the political class in the United Kingdom isn't yet on board with evidence-based best practices on drug policy. But this editorial loosens another brick in the wall -- on both sides of the Atlantic.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I totally  agree

JUSTICE WILL COME

It's quite simply put, a joke, that especially in one of the most backwards industrialized countries, the united states, we still continue to effectively set money on fire and flush it down the failed system of selective drug prohibition, a.k.a. the War on Drugs.  It is disgusting that a bunch of right wing knuckle draggers continue to take the u.s. hostage with their failed policies and laws targeting a handful of drugs.  Now, with this sack of human sewage occupying the whitehouse (FYI, I wouldn't spit on trump if he was on fire, begging for moisture--unless I had a mouth full of gasoline, LOL!) and the garbage idiots he places in positions of power, it's hard to hope for laws and policies based on intellignece, common sense, facts, logic, science or evidence. Instead, we can expect more opinion based policies from these wackjob idiots who believe that some fairy tale in the sky (aka, 'god',lol) who mysteriously wrote a bible that tells them to stone their wives for adultry (among other jokes in a book that's mostly good for nothing more than rolling papers and humor, because it's hard not to laugh at ANYONE that would be gullible enough to take that fucking shit-book seriously, or worse--literally, lol!) These are the kinds of dumbassess that still support our antiquaterd policies of mass incarceration.  The fact is that the most harm ful drugs are already illegal:  tobacco and alcohol.  Tobacco kills more than all illicit drugs and alcohol combined each year, alcohol kills mnore than all illegal drugs combined.  Our drug laws have never had any basis in science or common sense, though.  They have always been about race and class.  With every new substance outlawed, one can study the history and roots of these laws to easily find that there was ALWAYS a group perceived as using alot of the particular drug in question, and that group also happend to be VERY unpopular with the folks in power at the time. (i.e. The very 1st drug law was in San Francisco--the first opium laws were in S.F. and they had nothing to do with opium at all.  They did, however, have everything to do with the fact that white racists of the time didn't tale kindly to "their" white women going into the opium dens, with Chinese men...Again and again, the stories are the same; change the drug and the group of people, and the recipe is always similar.  I've done an immense amount of writing and research on these issues, as well as worked in behavioral health for almost two decades.  I am a Certified Addiciton Treatment specialist, and I've experienced what a fucking joke our so-called "criminal justice system" is, firsthand, as a drug war prisoner in the late '80's and '90's. Incarceration in both Texas and California taught me nothing good.  It simply made me more knowledgable about criminal activities, I was more angry, bitter and hateful (I had temporarily bought into one of the lies used to divide and control the convict/inmate population: racism).  As a result of incarceration, I had immensely more personal work and growing to do when I finally chose to radically change my life for the better and embrace a path that was much more holistically healthy than the one that I was on.  I don't regret it, though.  Experiencing the oppression, rampant police brutality and corruption (anyone who buys the lie about "a few bad apples" is either dumb, ignorant, or gullible, because it's a few good apples--and they aren't too good if they are protecting the bad cops...) as well as the extreme injustice, racism, violence, medical and psychiatric neglect of inmates, etc. ensured that I wold feel compelled to be an activist re: issues of justice, especially aroound this joke known as the drug war.  Hell, you don't even have to be compassionate or care abolut people at all!  It's poor fiscal management!  Every dollar spent on law enforcement/interdiction efforts (whether arial crop spraying in Colombia or arresting and locking the person up for marijuana, which still accounts for over half of all drug arrests, last I checked), we LOSE from 11-81 cents per dollar spent.  Whereas every buck spent on treatment, prevention and education, whether they stop suing drugs or not, we save from approximately $2-$8, per dollar spent!  It should be a no-brainer, excpet the right wing knuckle draggers who are glued, out of fear--because that's what drives people like this, fear--to their same, tired old failed approaches.  END THE FAILED DRUG WAR.  IT IS A WAR ON PEOPLE!  Let's embrace reason, compassion and justice.  Our system, which only prohibits a few drugs, and NOT the most harmful ones either, doesn't make any sense from any perspective, humanitarian or fiscal, let's embrace a system that embraces what's right for a change.

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