Cannabis prohibition is a failure for a number of basic reasons. Firstly there’s the obvious fact that under prohibition the quality, availability and demand for cannabis has increased around the world.
Secondly there is the problem that the ‘deterrent’ causes far more damage to individuals and society than cannabis ever has or ever will. And finally, there are questions which need to be asked about the role of government and the rights of the individual.
All around the world there is an awakening to the idea that the “War On Drugs” has failed. Prohibition simply doesn’t work. As a society we need to understand the implications of this. The assumption is made that criminalising cannabis users will act as a deterrent and reduce it’s use. The facts are in. The conclusions have been reached. This assumption is wrong. Instead of being a deterrent, prohibition acts as a powerful force in the supply and demand market for cannabis. It increases the amounts of money involved and attracts the criminal elements into the market. The increased profitability creates an increased market and results in more use. In The Netherlands where cannabis use is accepted levels of use are about half of what they are in Australia.
Cannabis prohibition creates an environment where cannabis users live in fear. It is an entrenched form of persecution against a specific group of individuals in the community. Cannabis users risk many forms of discrimination. A simple positive drug test can destroy a career without there even being a workplace incident. Societies attitude can lead to isolation and loss of community support for individuals and families. A conviction in court will limit career and travel opportunities. Parents can lose custody of their children. Patients forced to go without their medication lose quality of life and suffer in pain unnecessarily.
If we accept that cannabis prohibition does not work we must ask ourselves ‘why is cannabis still prohibited’? Why are people continuing to be persecuted for their cannabis use. Are laws in place to protect the people? If so, why are we using these laws to damage peoples lives?
Is it the governments role to legislate morality? The potential harms involved with cannabis use are very small compared to risks we happily accept on a daily basis. So why is it that government chooses prohibition as a means of control rather than regulation like they do with so many other ‘risky’ activities? Could it be that as a society we are prejudiced against cannabis in much the same way the 1950’s and 1960’s Australian society was prejudiced against ‘coloured’ people with the White Australia policy?