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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Essay length: 4021 words

Law in association with the criminalisation of certain drugs.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

LAW 206 Assignment (a) 1.0 - Introduction The criminalisation of the use of certain drugs over the last century has been a result of economic, political and cultural factors, rather than an assessment of its potential harm to society.1 This has resulted in statutes that are counter-productive in controlling the drug problem. Criminalisation aims to protect individuals and society from the myriad of harms that drugs cause. Yet, prohibition has created more harm to society through an increase in health problems and crime. The public, politicians, police and media are inextricably linked, and together they emphasise the importance of drug prohibition. A society can only exist when there are shared norms and values, and politicians in particular consider the intoxication of illicit substances as a threat to social decorum and order.2 Therefore, drug use and its prohibition must be assessed 'as part of a larger and more inclusive social framework.'3 2.0 - The Counter-Productivity of Criminalisation The statutes pertaining to the criminalisation of drugs over the last century have been counter-productive in relation to its impact on health and crime. The covert nature of drug abuse facilitates the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, while the unpredictable levels of purity increase the possibility of lethal overdose.4 This causes a detrimental effect on the health of this section of society. Secondly, the criminalisation of drugs creates a black market, increasing organised crime and forcing users to find ways of financing their habit. Mukherjee reveals, that 90 per cent of drug addicts specified 'money for drugs' as their main reason for committing property crimes.5 Furthermore, drug users often become drug suppliers in order to fund their habit. Therefore, although laws exist to improve the safety of our community, prohibition actually increases the prevalence of crime. Criminalisation is thus counter productive and detrimental in relation to the health of drug users and the prevalence of crime.

Middle

Secondly, decriminalisation would free up the scarce criminal justice resources and enable the police to focus on violent and property crimes.42 Revenue raised from fines could be allocated more effectively towards education and treatment programs and with the implementation of the part prohibition or the expediency option, the black market would be significantly reduced, or even eradicated.43 The risk of increased marijuana use is a possibility, and experience in markets such as tobacco and alcohol suggest that increased availability does lead to an increase in use.44 However, the Netherlands has a lower rate of cannabis use than both the United States and Australia.45 Furthermore, the available evidence suggests that the 'decriminalisation of marijuana possession [in the Netherlands] had little or no impact on rates of use.'46 A further disadvantage is the possibility of drug tourism, however as discussed above, it is likely to be substantially less in Australia, due to its isolation and lack of shared borders with other countries.47 3.0 - Legalisation Legalisation, as the second alternative to criminalisation, would lift all controls and permit the sale of marijuana on the open market.48 Marijuana would be regulated in a similar manner as alcohol or tobacco. This option enables the government to control the 'quality, price, method of manufacture, cultivation, distribution, importation and exportation'49 of all cannabis products. It is most probable that the advertising of marijuana would be prohibited and that licensed outlets or pharmacies would sell the drug.50 The government could raise considerable revenue through high taxes, and this could be effectively reallocated to education and treatment programs. The cost of the drug, however, must still be low enough to cut out the black market. In addition, legalisation would have a positive effect on employment, creating jobs in the drug administration and distribution sectors.51 The major disadvantage of legalisation is the impact it may have on individual use. However, as discussed previously, increased availability did not increase use in the Netherlands.

Conclusion

http://www.nzdf.org.nz/executiv.htm 37 McDonald, D. et al. Legislative Options for Cannabis Use in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Monograph no. 26, 1994. 38 McDonald, D. et al. Legislative Options for Cannabis Use in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Monograph no. 26, 1994. 39 Brown, D. et al, Criminal Laws: Material and Commentary on Criminal Law and the Process of Law in NSW. (2001), The Federation Press, Sydney. 40 Chadwick, S. Inquiry into the Public Health Strategies Related to Cannabis Use and the Most Appropriate Legal Status, Report of the Health Committee, 2003. www.ukcia/research/NewZealandInquiryAppropriateLegalStatus.pdf 41 Brown, D. et al, Criminal Laws: Material and Commentary on Criminal Law and the Process of Law in NSW. (2001), The Federation Press, Sydney. 42 Hamilton, M. King, T. and Ritter, A. Drug Use in Australia: Preventing Harm, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2004. 43 McDonald, D. et al. Legislative Options for Cannabis Use in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Monograph no. 26, 1994. 44 Bronitt, S and McSherry, B. Principles of Criminal Law, 1st ed, Pyrmont, N.S.W, LBC Information Services, 2001. 45 Single, E. The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalisation: An Update. Journal of Public Health Policy. Vol 10 at 115. 46 Single, E. The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalisation: An Update. Journal of Public Health Policy. Vol 10 at 115. 47 Alternative Systems of Cannabis Control in New Zealand: A Discussion Paper. Drug Policy Forum Trust, Wellington, 1997. http://www.nzdf.org.nz/executiv.htm 48 Chadwick, S. Inquiry into the Public Health Strategies Related to Cannabis Use and the Most Appropriate Legal Status, Report of the Health Committee, 2003. www.ukcia/research/NewZealandInquiryAppropriateLegalStatus.pdf 49 Bertrand, A. Decriminalisation, Journal of Drug Issues, Fall 90, vol. 20, issue 4, at 533. 50 Alternative Systems of Cannabis Control in New Zealand: A Discussion Paper. Drug Policy Forum Trust, Wellington, 1997. http://www.nzdf.org.nz/executiv.htm 51 Bertrand, A. Decriminalisation, Journal of Drug Issues, Fall 90, vol. 20, issue 4. 52 Wodak, A. and Moore, T. Modernising Australia's Drug Policy, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2002 at 59. 53 Wodak, A. and Moore, T. Modernising Australia's Drug Policy, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2002. Elizabeth Herbert - 40328104 1

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