Dutch prohibition lesson is unlearned
In 2007, a French teenager jumped off a bridge in Amsterdam. Because he was high on hallucinogens, the Dutch government worked diligently to try and reverse their lax policies on drugs, and as now made ‘magic mushrooms’ illegal. Selling the drug was already illegal, but now growing it for personal use carries serious penalties.
I think the move is both ludicrous and a giant waste of time. The Dutch government had been wise to take on a laissez faire policy on drugs, since it’s been proven time and time again that prohibition does little to affect consumption. Instead, it fuels powerful black markets, which breed violence and more criminality.
I’m not going to debate the relative health hazards of magic mushrooms. They are obviously dangerous if overused, not because of their toxicity, but rather because they can trigger dormant psychological conditions such as schizophrenia. There are rare occasions when some individuals harm themselves when high, but for the most part, these are rare.
What angers me is how people mistakenly believe laws can avert tragedy. Sadly, our attempts at legislating others for their ‘own good’ often causes far more harm than good. Drug abusers are treated as victims, and because the drugs are illegally obtained, the relative safety of the product is questionable. Drug dealers are not obliged to provide untempered products. They follow a different code of conduct from legitimate business, and their victims suffer from often intolerable lifestyles as a consequence.
Human beings engage in destructive behavior regardless of the legal repercussions. We cannot prevent other human beings from doing what they please with their own bodies, even if we feel it is our moral obligation to do so. By making drugs illegal, we only fuel crime and make violence and death profitable. Drug use is a personal choice, not a societal one. The experiment of prohibitionism has continued to fail, and yet, the war on drugs prevails. How many more deaths can we tolerate? How many incarcerated junkies, wealthy drug lords, and overly strained law enforcement officers are enough before we say ‘no more’?
The Dutch government has now reversed a policy that has made their society a positive beacon of hope. The low instances of drug abusers, lower crime rates, and higher standard of living were positive proofs that prohibition is a failure. Now, because some tragically stupid individual plunges themselves into a river and dies, this is being reversed. If the same outrage was placed in the proper direction, we would not allow fellow human beings to suffer at the hands of ineffective legislation.