The pros and cons of prohibiting drugs

From Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology

In September 2012, a group known as Australia 21 called for a rethink on the prohibition against illegal drugs. Calls of this sort do not normally excite much media interest, but this call received plenty of attention. Largely because of some very eminent people on its board. If the response from Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments is any guide, the call fell on deaf ears. This paper acknowledges the social and financial costs of the prohibition against illegal drugs but argues that prohibition also prevents a great deal of harm. The article explores which policy minimizes drug-related harm, and considers if there should be any law reform. Ultimately concluding the complexities make it impossible say what policy best minimizes drug-related harm.

Abstract

In September 2012, a group known as Australia 21 called for a rethink on the prohibition against illegal drugs. If the response from Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments is any guide, the call fell on deaf ears. In recent years, even scholarly debate about the merits of prohibition appears to have subsided. This paper acknowledges that social and financial costs of the prohibition against illegal drugs but argues that prohibition also prevents a great deal of harm. The multifarious nature of drug-related harm and the differences between people in the weight assigned to various harms makes it impossible say what policy best minimizes drug-related harm.

 

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Article details
Don Weatherburn
The pros and cons of prohibiting drugs Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology August 2014 47: 176-189, doi:10.1177/0004865814524423

 

 

     
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