Why the UK desperately needs drug use to be legalised

The case for the legalisation of drug use has been made countless times, and I don’t intend to rehash it here. But the UK is suffering immensely due to the gang culture and violent crime — specifically knife crime — that is on the rise as a result of increased drug use. Hundreds die every year now, with most being young people, and the problem isn’t going away. It’s time for radical solutions.

Dave Olsen
Jan 9, 2019 · 4 min read
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Gang culture is emerging in the UK as the country’s public services are left barebones due to poorly-targeted austerity measures. Youth clubs, which were havens for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, have been left to rot. That, along with a number of other factors such as poorer education funding in the inner city and a greater number of people living in poverty, has led to the gang violence that reigns supreme in Britain once more.

This new gang culture is fuelled by drugs, both more potent drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and MDMA and less harmful drugs such as cannabis. However potent these drugs may be, their unlawfulness isn’t preventing any deaths as a direct or indirect result of the substances. All it is doing is costing the state huge sums of money for policing and imprisonment, as well as contributing the new wave of knife crime.

This trend is incredibly apparent in the UK, but it exists in every country around the world. The US is ridden with drug problems, particularly in the East. Here too, the result of drugs is clear: gang violence. From MS-13 in New York to the Lenox Street Boys in Boston, gangs are a developing cancer in American society, and so they are too in the UK.

Drug trafficking gangs are everywhere in Britain, not just the huge population centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, and Glasgow. Rural gangs have been growing immensely in Britain in the past few years. Although rural gangs exist in other countries too, seldom has the trend been this exaggerated.

That’s causing massive problems in terms of policing, because, despite the densely-populated nature of the country, rural trafficking networks are much more difficult to break down than those in cities. And yet, if drug use was legalised, there would be no need for any of this.

The number of deaths due to knife crime and dangerous drug use would decrease significantly. Perhaps more significantly, there would be fewer young people entering the world of illegal drugs, leading to a healthier society and a healthier economy. No doubt the drug dealers would still find a way of bending the law and creating other issues, but at least the drug problem itself would be solved.

Moreover, if legitimate companies were able to sell drugs with regulation from central government, the danger of consuming unknown substances would disappear, saving yet more lives.

But, you may say, if young people are the ones most at risk, then surely legalisation wouldn’t really help at all.

Here is the radical part of my plan: drugs — at least less harmful ones such as cannabis — shouldn’t be restricted to just 18-year-olds or above. There are no official figures to back this up, but it is something I know to be true. More than 1/2 of all 16-year-olds have taken illegal substances, be it cannabis or cocaine, be it repeated use or just on one or two occasions.

The problem age group probably ranges from 14 to 21, and focuses around the 16–19 year band in particular. Therefore, drugs must be legalised for people of younger ages. This should undoubtedly be with controls, such as going to the police to ask for a licence to purchase drugs (potentially for the whole population, not just the youth), or only being able to buy them with the consent of a parent/carer. There is probably also a good case for legalising only the less potent drugs for under-18s or under-21s.

But however it happens, whatever the exact system is, drugs must be legalised, and must be legalised for younger people too. If we can’t take a common-sense measure for the sake of political fear and correctness, then society really is in a sorry state (see most of my stories!). It’s a choice between spiralling costs and deaths, and having the will to fight a tough and bruising political campaign. Which will it be?

News and ideas worthy of discourse.

Dave Olsen

Written by

Politics nerd, policy wonk | Founder, medium.com/politics-fast-and-slow | Editor, politika.org.uk | twitter.com/dave_olsen16 | Policy Paper: https://rb.gy/7coyj

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

Dave Olsen

Written by

Politics nerd, policy wonk | Founder, medium.com/politics-fast-and-slow | Editor, politika.org.uk | twitter.com/dave_olsen16 | Policy Paper: https://rb.gy/7coyj

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

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