Hong Kong (CNN) -- The global war on drugs is failing, new research suggests, as the price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis has fallen while their purity has increased.

Using seven sets of government drug surveillance data, a team of Canadian and U.S. researchers reviewed drug supply in the United States, Europe and Australia and drug production in regions such as Latin America, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia.

They found that illegal drugs have become cheaper while their potency has increased, indicating that efforts to control "the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing."

"During the past two decades, the supply of major illegal drugs has increased, as measured through a general decline in the prices and a general increase in the purity of illegal drugs in a variety of settings," said the study, which was published by BMJ Open, an open-access journal published by the British Medical Journal. (full article here)

How about we legalize ALL the problem street drugs. What would happen?

For a while, drugs would become more widely available. Everyone on the verge of selling drugs but staying out due to the potential legal penalties would get into the marketplace. Eventually, though, free market forces would take over and drive the gangsters out of the marketplace.

Getting the gangsters to go home would eliminate lots and lots of crime.

Drugs would become less taboo and the "coolness" factor would diminish. People would feel more free to talk about drugs, removing much of the mystique.

So far, it might appear I'm just removing all the barriers to drug use. Not so because...

I would also legalize discrimination against drug users. I would allow landlords to require drug tests before taking on a tenant and I'd allow them to kick a tenant out before the end of their lease if they fail a surprise drug test. Addicts would have to seek out addiction-friendly landlords and would end up having to live in pretty much all-addict dwellings.

Obviously, I'd allow employers to do drug testing, just like they do now.

Going for a mortgage? Maybe you'll have to pass a drug test. Applying for any sort of government subsidy? You might have to pass a drug test.

And so on...

Got any objections to this approach? or creative suggestions?

Tags: addiction, drugs, free, legalizing, market

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Cool idea Dude, as far as it goes.

Possible suggestion.

Instead of legalizing drugs over the board, how about licensing drug sale outlets. Drugs could be freely available through these licensed outlets at a price way below the cost of buying drugs on the street, and so immediately deprive illegal dealers of their market.

The Government could also climb on the bandwagon, and levy a tax on drugs, like they do with cigarettes and booze.

As for getting gangsters to go home, where do gangsters go when they go home? Chanses are, they'll just find another outlet for their nefarious enterprises. I'll get back to these guys in a bit.

I think your ideas of legalizing discrimination against drug users should be done regardless of the legal status of drugs.

Bleeding hearts who wave the discrimination flag around, and protest that their 'Hooman rites' are being violated can sometimes be real idiots.

Discrimination is not a four letter word! Discrimination is simply the cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished. Why should that be a crime? Everyone practices discrimination all the time. What's your favorite beer?... There you go, you've just discriminated against all other beers.

I'm not an American, but from where I'm sitting, surely a landlord should have the right to protect his property by not accepting drug addicts, or any other tenants who may destroy the place?

For that matter, if I were lending money to someone, I would like to be able to make sure they would be able to repay the loan. Lending to a drug addict, who could lose his job, become homeless, or worse, overdose, and be unable to repay the loan, would surely be considered a high risk.

If smokers can be 'penalized' on medical and life insurance policies, then, logically, drug addicts should be penalized even more due to the higher risk they pose.

If it's legal for employers to do drug testing, surely everyone with a vested interest in any enterprise should be able to insist on one.

Okay, now how about the other side of the coin. Can employees insist that their employers be tested for drugs? Should prospective tenants also be able to insist that their landlords be tested? - Like I said, I'm not an American, so I really don't know how this applies.

This brings to mind other possible social problems.

Just like smoking, drugs are addictive, only more so, and with more far reaching social implications. Withdrawal from tobacco addiction is hard enough, but nothing compared to withdrawal from, say, heroin.

There are enough homeless people around due to unemployment and alcohol addiction, but what do you think is going to happen when you start adding drug addicts to the mix? Drug addicts are desperate people, and will stop at nothing to get their next fix.

Already, drug addiction is the cause of a great deal of crime. With drugs being made freely available addiction is sure to, at least initially, increase. What happens when an addict loses his job, or just simply runs out of money to buy more drugs?  Rich people may survive okay, but what about the less affluent? What choices will they have?

However, I'm pretty sure your plan could be refined, to arrive at a workable solution, but only up to a point.

Okay, now let's get back to those gangsters.

Let's say your plan may be able to, if not eliminate, at least reduce drug usage among adults, but what about the kids? At what age should kids be allowed to legally purchase drugs? 12? 16? 18? 21?... I believe the legal drinking age in America is 21(?) should drug sales also be limited to those over 21?

There! Right there is the market niche those gangsters will fill! Particularly in view of the fact that these gangsters will be able to freely, and legally get hold of drugs to resell to kids. In fact, isn't a huge percentage of elicit drug traffic already directed at our kids?

I'm betting that, already, it's prob'ly easier for kids to get possession of hard drugs than it is for them to get a beer!

Legalizing the sale of hard drugs could just backfire by making it even easier than it already is for kids to get access to drugs, and that scares the snot out of me!


Kids are the crux of the problem when it comes to ridding the drug trade of the gangster element. As long as there is a segment of the public denied legal access to drugs, there will be an element ready to fill that niche. 

Of course, there is also the problem of people who get into trouble through drugs (just as people who use alcohol legally end up getting into the system). If a court then denies them the right to buy drugs, there is another way the gangsters can insinuate themselves.

But certainly, we can greatly reduce the size of the drug marketplace.

 how do you define a drug addict here? It can't be anyone who simply tests positive on a drug test, as plenty of people take drugs occasionally without ever becoming addicted. It is the same difference between  someone who has a couple of beers on a Friday and an alcoholic. We also already have tons of legal addicts. Look at people on strong opiods. They are often just as addicted to the drug as someone on heroine.

"There! Right there is the market niche those gangsters will fill! Particularly in view of the fact that these gangsters will be able to freely, and legally get hold of drugs to resell to kids. In fact, isn't a huge percentage of elicit drug traffic already directed at our kids?"

that is not true. When prohibition on alcohol ended the organized criminals did not just switch to selling their alcohol to children. Now days we do not have large scale organized criminals buying alcohol from the shop to sell to kids. There is simply no market for it as those who are underage can simply ask their older friends to get alcohol for them.The fact is that most people have an aversion to dealing with organized criminals when there are safer options on the table.

You may be right Dude, but whatever, I'm not in a position to offer any argument. I must admit that my definition of what drug addiction is, is pretty much derived from depictions in Holliwood movies, and my personal experience with illicit drugs is zero.

I grant you that there are plenty of people out there who are addicted to 'legal' drugs, and that's the way the pharmaceutical companies like things to be. I suspect that the drive to legalize drugs is due to the fact that they want a slice of that pie too.

Another question this raises for me is, What about prescription drugs? Over here, the large scale theft of prescription drugs (mostly from State hospitals and clinics) constitutes a big percentage to the illicit drug market. Should prescription drugs also be 'de-scheduled' and sold like OTC medicines? What measures can be put in place to protect drug consumers from themselves?

My contention that drug peddlers are targeting kids comes from crime stats over here. This is Africa, things are different here!

Our large scale organized criminals don't buy alcohol from the shop to sell to kids either. They steal it and then sell it to the kids. The alcohol and drug trade among school kids is a booming enterprise. (BTW our legal drinking age is 18, the age of consent is 16, and a 13 year old can get an abortion at a State clinic without her parents consent or knowledge.) The club scene is all about drugs, with the bouncers as dealers, and Cops as suppliers. Cops have almost a monopoly on the drug trade. Their war on drugs consists of busting and prosecuting their competition, (usually Nigerians) then selling the drugs they 'confiscated' in the bust.

Over here, one thing you can be sure of, if there's a crime, the cops will be on the scene before it's even called in.

You guys are amateurs, you don't know what real crime is.

Whatever, I do tend to agree with you that decriminalizing recreational drugs would go a long way to controlling the trade, and making it safer.

Unseen- Which do you think would be a better model towards drug legalization, free market(like the direction America seems to be heading on cannabis) or government run(like how Uruguay is heading on cannabis) .

Right off the top (meaning without thinking about it too long and hard), I'd say treat all abusable Rx or street drugs like we treat alcohol in those states where you can just buy liquor off the shelf in the grocery store or a private liquor store (not like those states with state-operated liquor stores). 

I would normally agree with you, but i think drugs may be a special case. It is just if feel that the last people you want to give the sale of drugs to are ones who have the most financial incentive to get as many people addicted as possible.

It is only the production of it than can blow up in your face. But that is true for a few other drugs also.

Decades ago, the city of Vancouver, BC, began treating addiction as an illness rather than a crime.  They set up a clean shooting centre where a nurse can ensure you get your heroin without overdosing or getting HIV.  The result was that they still had drug addicts, just like before, but the spread of HIV was cut in half for the city, and a lot of money was saved from not chasing junkies around, filling up jail cells, and wasting court time.

"I would also legalize discrimination against drug users."

Disagree.

"I would allow landlords to require drug tests"

No need. Remember the primary cause of harm lies in the prohibition laws - not the drugs themselves. You wouldn't have clandestine bake houses because there would be no need for clandestine. Instead landlords can prohibit dangerous activities and explosive chemicals, etc. If tenants behave themselves and pay their rent, why discriminate?

"I'd allow employers to do drug testing, just like they do now."

There are BIG problems with drug testing currently. Being high at work is obviously something employers want to limit, but drugs tests measure the presence of drugs in the system - NOT physical impairment. THC can remain in the system for SIX WEEKS while the high lasts just a few hours. Do you think it's OK to fire someone for smoking a joint (on their OWN time) weeks before the drug test? 'Cause that's what happens now. The MAJOR problem in the workplace is alcohol. Fire someone for showing up drunk but not for having a few beers the night before. (As a digression, I can't understand why sportspeople are sanctioned for taking recreational drugs. Steroids, sure, but most recreational drugs impair performance. Instead of being disqualified, users should be given a head start :-)  )

NONE of your examples are justification for blatant discrimination. How about maybe granting a mortgage only to those with some savings and a good credit rating. Without the problems arising from prohibition, addicts could easily qualify, and probably do every day.

Removing prohibition is necessary so that the REAL problems with drugs can be brought into the open. Education is the answer and, under prohibition, speaking truth in formal education is not possible. People need to see that, once you're addicted to drugs, you no longer get high. It becomes nothing more than satisfying withdrawal - just like cigarettes. You're spending thousands for NOTHING.

I have a strong libertarian streak. I think landlords and employers should be free to get what they want as far as employees or tenants as long as there's no racial bias or sex bias. 

Landlords and employers are entitled to their beliefs, even if they are wrong beliefs, and part of being entitled to them is that they be free to act on them. 

If I'm given the right to use heroin or meth without government interference, doesn't it make sense that if I'm an employer or landlord I should have a similar freedom? And won't it add to the diversity of the available real estate and employment that there be some housing and jobs where drugs are allowed and others where they are forbidden? Why should housing and jobs be homogeneous in this regard?

Do you think that employers and landlords should be allowed to determine who you can fuck?  How about what church you attend?  I mean, it seems that you believe that their right to their beliefs includes their right to impose their beliefs upon their tenants/employees.

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