We shouldn’t favour the human rights of drug users over ordinary citizens.

  • There is no conflict between the rights of drug users and other citizens – the choice to take drugs is personal, and need not affect or concern anyone else.
  • Human rights are universal; whether or not one is a drug user, abuse of authority harms us all. When governments utilise moral panic and fear about drugs to ride roughshod over rule-of-law and due process, the damage spreads beyond drug users. It emboldens authorities to disregard the rule of law often for their own ends.
  • The illicit drug trade has created entire regions effectively governed by organised crime, whose culture of coercion and violence make human rights a distant and unrealistic concern.
  • Professor David Nutt, former head of an advisory board to the UK government, memorably wrote that “there is not much difference between horse-riding and ecstasy” in terms of danger. As consenting adults, we retain the right to engage in all sorts of harmful and risky activity without government intrusion – why should drug use be any different? As a society, we can disapprove and discourage without recourse to law.
  • The right to take drugs is not explicitly protected but falls under other broadly accepted human rights, such as to privacy, health and freedom of choice and belief.

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