Pubdate: Thu, 26 Mar 2009
Source: Economist, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 The Economist Newspaper Limited
Author: Walter Kemp


Sir -- We read your leader and briefing on how prohibition has failed
to halt the trade in illegal drugs ("How to stop the drug wars", March
7th). We agree with your assertion that a massive criminal market is
an unintended consequence of controlling drugs. Indeed, the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has called attention to this issue
in a recent report to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. However, we
reach a different conclusion to you and find that legalisation is not
the solution.

Drugs are controlled because they are harmful, they are not harmful
because they are controlled. Legalising the use of drugs would be
tantamount to losing a portion of every generation to addiction.
Choosing between public health and public security is a false dilemma.
Governments should, and can, do both. To reduce supply, more resources
are needed to eradicate poverty and not just illicit crops. To reduce
demand, more attention should be placed on drug prevention and treatment.

To tackle drug-trafficking, states should use international agreements
against organised crime and corruption. The fact that certain
transactions are hard to control does not mean that they should be
made legal. I doubt that The Economist would support the legalisation
of paedophilia, human-trafficking or arms-smuggling as "the least bad

Walter Kemp

Spokesman and speechwriter United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

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