General public views on drug legalisation

Following my essay in this week’s Sydney Morning Herald about the need to legalise and regulate all drugs, the paper publishes three letters in response:

I agree with Antony Loewenstein (‘‘Legal drugs will make us safer’’, July 8). The fact that drug manufacture and supply is left to criminals does not make sense and is detrimental both to drug users and society in general. The costly war on drugs will never be won. But Loewenstein only pays cursory attention to the obvious question: if legal alcohol is still the most destructive drug, then how will that reality transfer to legalised substances like cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ice? It would have been useful to get more pointers on this particular problem, since he is obviously well educated on the issue of drugs legalisation. – Carsten Burmeister, Balmoral

Legalising drugs is just plain wrong. The last thing society needs is delusional drug affected people roaming the streets in a stupor. You only need to visit inner city hospital emergency rooms to see the impact of ice and other hard drugs. The threat of violence and increased motor accidents are genuine concerns. This is not a progressive idea. It is regressive. – Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

Loewenstein may well be correct, but his suggestions for how the newly legal marketplace will work (magic mushies at the bottle shop) made me laugh. In my neck of the woods, furious residents get the pitchforks out over things as innocuous as boarding houses. How will they feel about their corner shops selling ice? – Russell Edwards, Drummoyne

The next day the paper published yet more letters in response to my essay:

I agree with Antony Loewenstein (‘‘Legal drugs will make us safer’’, July 8). A point that he didn’t make in his article was that legalising drugs will force out the drug dealers – the middlemen – who make vast sums of money selling drugs to users, as well as their suppliers, local or international. This, in turn, will reduce drug crimes. Also, if drugs are made legal, they will be not be contaminated, resulting in fewer hospital admissions from toxic mixes and overdoses. This will free up many hospital beds for patients with other medical problems. – Penelope Zylstra, Woollahra

As a throwaway line, Loewenstein says ‘‘alcohol is still our most destructive drug’’, which raises the question: why? Because it is legally available of course. And if all other drugs were legalised as well they would no doubt rival and eclipse it. For 35 years it has been illegal to drive with alcohol in your system. And yet people still do, mainly because it is legally available around the community. People in traffic now are angry, violent and unstable. Imagine what things will be like if they are out in the traffic, having ingested their newly legalised available drugs. Even though, no doubt, it will be an offence to do so, it will be creating an even more catastrophic problem on the road. – Jennifer Giles, Elizabeth Bay

The day after that, the Melbourne Age published one letter responding to my article:

Indeed, Antony Loewenstein (8/9), the “war on drugs” is surely one of the most counter-productive policies ever undertaken, its outcomes being ever increasing human and financial costs, and the only beneficiaries being the criminals producing and selling the drugs. Prohibition just doesn’t work.

Richard Fone, Camberwell

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common