What would legalisation (legal regulation) actually look like?

Discussing legalisation, you may hear something along these lines: “So they’ll be selling heroin in supermarkets, will they?”

Few would endorse this radical free-market view. We believe that currently illicit drugs should be governed in the same way as legal psychoactive substances, such as caffeine, alcohol and medicine. We already have a range of options, depending on the drug in question:

  • Prescription – Substances considered particularly dangerous, such as heroin, could be prescribed to users registered as dependent by a qualified and licenced healthcare professional, and consumed in a supervised setting.
  • Pharmacy – Licenced professionals could provide a point of sale for drugs such as MDMA and amphetamines, providing rationed quantities to those who wish to use them. There might be additional restrictions in place, such as a licence requirement for the consumer.
  • Licenced Sales – Lower-risk drugs could be sold at outlets that obtain a licence under strict conditions, possibly including age restrictions, health and safety advice, and a ban on all advertising and promotions.
  • Licenced Premises – In much the way that alcohol – or, in some countries, Cannabis – is often provided, licenced premises could provide a substance for on-site consumption, subject to strict laws and regulation such as age checks and responsibility for customer behaviour.

These examples implicitly point to the dangers of the illicit drug market, which, due to its illegality, operates without oversight and regulation, under conditions that encourage the worst possible behaviour.

Again, the goal of our efforts is to show that the continuation of our current policies is the radical, dangerous choice.

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