Benefits of decriminalisation help society
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
First of all, I would like to start by saying I am not a consumer of drugs. In fact, I really don’t see the appeal behind it. My opinion on drugs is the same as cigarettes; they’re both vices, and people who want to consume them will keep consuming them. So, really, why should we stop them? It is their choice to make, and if they are willing to accept the consequences it could have on their health, then that’s on them. This is my ethical perspective on the topic of drugs. I do not condone drug use, but I don’t think drugs should be considered as bad as murder. So why should they be criminalised to the same extent?
As a student in Economics, I can say that decriminalisation of drugs will bring many economic benefits. There is a concept called the price elasticity of demand. It’s a units-free measurement of the responsiveness of the quantity demanded of a good to a change in price—assuming that every other influence on buying plans remain the same. Basically, if the price of a product increases and people buy lesser quantities of a product, then the demand of that product is said to be elastic. If the price of a product increases and people still continue buying the same amount, then demand for that product is inelastic.
From this scenario, it is evident that drugs have inelastic demand, because even when they’re priced really high, consumers of drugs will still purchase them, due to their addiction or strong desire. You can then say that cigarettes also have an inelastic demand, because people who are addicted to smoking will be willing to pay to satisfy their need. If cigarettes are legal and obviously bad for your health, then why should drugs be prohibited when they’re both harmful? Further, the decriminalisation of drugs will lead to drugs being taxed and regulated by the government, which will greatly benefit our economy. This tax can be used towards the creation and development of drug therapy, supervised injection sites, drug awareness campaigns, drug prevention, and many more services that can benefit society as a whole.
Portugal abolished all criminal penalties related to drug possession in 2001. The government provided therapy for drug users instead of prison sentences. According to the research findings led by Glenn Greenwald and commissioned by the Cato Institute, the outcome has been very positive five years after decriminalisation. The rate of HIV infections from the injection of drugs has been decreasing dramatically every year, deaths involving drugs like heroin have been cut by more than half, a lower number of teenagers have been consuming drugs illegally, and the number of individuals seeking recovery and treatment for drug addiction has doubled. In fact, it was such a success that their neighbouring countries, Spain and Italy, followed the Portugal model.
Of course, when the liberalization of drugs takes place, there will still be an age requirement and the quantity consumed will be monitored. The goal of drug liberalization is to achieve the positive results shown by the Portugal model.