7 July 2015
A recent article in the Independent highlighted how London is now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade. This begs the question, just how important is prohibition to the 1%, the banking industry and the UK economy?
There is an ambiguity surrounding the rationale behind the prohibition of drugs. There is no denying that some individuals develop an unhealthy relationship with both legal and illegal drugs, especially if they have no loving support network to guide them. As Dr. Carl Hart articulated in his recent Ted talk there is a direct correlation between drug abuse and poverty. Moreover, his findings have shown that “the overwhelming majority of drug users do not have a drug problem.” Here I feel it is pertinent to note that in 2013 in the UK there were only 43 deaths from MDMA compared to 226 from paracetamol.
In any case, anyone with any experience of drug abuse knows that prohibition is ineffective at deterring the most vulnerable in society from developing a problem. If anything it leaves the vulnerable open to further exploitation by a multi-faceted criminal class. Prohibition is dark and sinister and plagues any opportunity to evolve a responsible and humanitarian drug policy. It should be clear that prohibition persists so dogmatically not because our leaders care but because it serves their economic agenda. There is a lot of drug money circulating around London and it is the 1% who profit; this is the trickle up from the most vulnerable in society.
When I speak of the multi-faceted criminal class I am, of course not talking about women like Michelle who was recently in the news for her cannabis cultivation, an activity that is central to her having any kind of quality of life due to her condition; she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Neither am I talking about the many small scale cannabis grow operations around the UK or the unfortunate individuals criminalised for a few grams here and there. With the current austerity cuts also affecting the police you would have thought that these examples of ‘crime fighting’ would no longer be affordable or cost effective. Someone needs to direct our law enforcement to the real criminals, who might be found with powdery noses laundering money on Threadneedle Street, or parking their Porches on Egerton Crescent, SW3. One thing is for certain we need to stop criminalising medicinal and recreational users of cannabis and adopt an evidence based drug policy which also encourages research into the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like MDMA and Psilocybin.
I am not claiming that if prohibition ended tomorrow we would see an end to drug abuse but we would surely see an end to the most wealthy profiteering from the most vulnerable. In the case of cannabis it could contribute significantly to our economy through legal channels. By enabling individuals the opportunity to establish livelihoods through the formation of cannabis related co-operatives (not-for-profit relationships between producers and consumers), the treasury could raise considerable amounts of tax revenues through a variety of licences. These taxes could go directly to harm reduction, proper drug education (that avoids patronising young people) and comprehensive support networks to help the most vulnerable affected by drug and alcohol abuse. These cannabis taxes could also make significant contributions to the NHS. The NHS could grow its own medicine allowing it to take a step back and examine its unhealthy relationship with the so-called legitimate global pushermen, Big Pharma. It is worth mentioning that the US state of Colorado collected over £10 million dollars through the taxation of cannabis in April of this year alone. Just saying…
So it seems plain and simple to me. We either have a legally regulated system with transparent money flows, benefitting all in society or we maintain the status quo, prohibition, which only benefits the 1%.
Isn’t it time for the 99% to acknowledge the profound implications of prohibition and get behind drug law reform once and for all?