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The war on drugs versus the case for liberalisation.

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Introduction A high controversial issue, of significance importance, is non other but the prohibition of psychotropic substances and the justifiability of drug laws which applied in many countries. From the era of the American Colonies until the era of Civil War, colonists, including the eminent champion of individual freedom George Washington, grew "hemp" in their premises. Nowadays, "hemp" is referred to as "marijuana". Yet, only few people can realize that hemp, opium poppy and coca are ordinary plants and far fewer people can realize that by the transformation of those plants into dangerous and prohibited drugs we may give up fundamental rights. The proposition of a right to use psychotropic substances of one's own choice has been advocated by economists in favour of free markets, by philosophers on grounds of liberty rights and autonomy and by journalists on "consequentialist grounds of harm-minimization"1. The declaration of a war on drugs can only be recognized as a war against individuals, since drugs cannot be arrested, prosecuted or punished. As a result, an estimate five million regular users of illegal substances in UK must face a civil war. A war, in which according to Douglas Husak, the enemy and the special significance of the enemy is not adequately identified. The material area of drug use and human rights remains "sacredly" undiscovered as only in rare occasions is expressly mentioned; it is mentioned once in the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988. On the one hand while governments fight the jihad against drugs in order to eliminate the enemy, they legalize certain drugs such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. On the other hand Muslims, and Mexican Indians, who disapproved alcohol consumption on culture and religious grounds but favour the use of cannabis and opium, they are stigmatized as a world devoid of poverty and sin. In order to explore further the question whether or not a right to the freedom to use drugs must be recognised, this essay purports to ...read more.


Thus, traffickers with the participation of specialists in money laundering have developed certain tactics to insure the efficient and safe delivery. The cost impact of the whole process falls entirely upon drug users who want to acquire drugs with a day to day increasing price. Usually drug use can exceed the pool assets of users leading them to criminal activity, loss of employment, unstable family life, loss of education and imprisonment. Users of illicit substances"face a harsh stigmatization and discrimination which can result in eliciting shame and guilt in them. In addition, the prohibition lead with a mathematic accuracy to the development of black market in drugs, making "pure" or "clean" drugs unapproachable; forcing users to associate with drug dealers and thereby to promote criminal activity. The consequence is a marginalization of those users, who under the fear of being exposed, they remain lonely riders to an unknown destination. Drug Use as Feature of Privacy and Autonomy This part of the essay is going to examine whether or not drug use can be considered as a private behaviour similar to other daily activities. Privacy can be defined as "a right to be left alone", as set out under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A broader conception extends beyond the exclusively personal sort of information and includes anonymity and restricted physical access. Taking on some features of autonomy within the definition of privacy, individual is able to afford the required legal and social space in order to develop the spiritual, cognitive and moral aspects of an autonomous human being. It is crucial for the political dimensions of a society to respect the fundamental right of privacy, to protect the individual freedom and the rights of association, and do not impose unjustified limitations, via governmental control, upon thoughts and actions. Therefore, it could be argued that by showing that drug use is an autonomous activity which does not differ from daily activities, it is possible to be recognised as a private behaviour. ...read more.


excludes current drug users from its protection. In addition considering the Turn in Pusher programme in 1960s in USA, under which children were encouraged to report parental drug use, it could be argued that the war on drugs threats the sanctity of the family. Conclusion It is fundamental that personal privacy goes hand in hand with personal liberty. Drug use, as we examined above, is clearly an issue of personal privacy. Tragically, we tend to surrender our fundamental rights in order to avoid the victimization and marginalization resulting by the continuity of the war on drugs. Governments adopt an unjustified paternalistic behavior in relation to mental illness by defining morally unacceptable behaviors as diseases. The right to use psychotropic substances for one's own choice must be linked with the principle of autonomy and with the fundamental rights of property, self- medication, the right to control my own body and the right to die. Even if one wants to see addiction as virtually certainty and not fiction, he remains responsible to inform himself about the substances he consumes. For example, if he becomes addicted, he is responsible for the addiction because he either knew or ought to know that addiction was a possibility. Nevertheless, autonomous individuals are free to use their body as they wish and for their own purposes. This thesis is already accepted by society in nondrug domains; for example many countries have not enacted a speeding or helmet law for motorcyclists. If we accept that humanitarian health concern justifies the prohibition of drugs, one can raise the issue of the absence of any equivalent war on cigarette addiction which are responsible for more premature deaths than heroin, AIDS and alcohol. As Szasz observes we live in a society in which people have legal access to loaded guns but not to sterile syringes and where there is zero tolerance to drugs but not to nuclear waste.22 Considering the maxim of a liberal society, it is the time to recognise that individuals themselves are responsible for their welfare and that moral and ethical considerations cannot be erected by governmental laws and policies. ...read more.

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