Before any drugs legislation happened we had highs. We had things like cannabis, and alcohol, and ecstasy and cocaine. The big four as I like to call them. At some point in history they have all been banned or prohibited from general use and every time this has happened, organised crime has filled the gap left by removing the legal, regulated salespeople. Prices go up, but so does the quality of the drug owing to the need to smuggle. More powerful drugs take less space for the same value, so you can fit more into wherever you’re smuggling, thus the more money you can make from it.
This is pretty well established that this is what happens when we ban drugs, its exactly what happened when America prohibited alcohol. People organised, smuggled alcohol regardless, and alcohol got incredibly strong as a result of that. Notice I said people? It’s important to realise these are just your every day people, not the “organised criminals” that you expect to be involved with gangland killings and Breaking Bad style distributors. They are just people who are pitching in a little bit to help other people get drunk. However to the government, they’re criminals, because they’re going against what the government says.
Possibly the best example of this is the episode of The Simpsons where Springfield begins to prohibit alcohol. Homer becomes a booze brewer, brewing booze in bathtubs, and then sends the booze to Moe. At the time its easy to gloss over what we’re looking at and continue to root for our Homer J Simpson; but that’s the kind of person that the government is telling you is evil and involved in organised crime. Using the words organised crime instantly makes you think of evil gangs and and truly terrible acts of violence. This isn’t who Homer is, and this isn’t who most people involved in “organised crime” relating to drugs and alcohol sales are. They’re just people, pitching in, to get other people high and make one hell of a profit doing so.
The same is happening today, with the battle of legal highs. The more we try to prohibit, the more we push the creation, distribution and sales underground. Which results in less control, regulation and safety there is in the industry. It’s completely free and untethered. Which isn’t a good thing.
Legal highs originally were meant to simply recreate the experience of the already banned highs. This is why you’ll hear terms like “synthetic cannabis” the whole point of that drug was to try and recreate cannabis without using the banned substances, THC and CBD. However chemists realised they weren’t limited to just recreating common and popular drugs. They could make them better and stronger.
So they did. That’s why we’re in the position we’re in today of having to do an outright blanket ban – which is hilariously badly written – the blanket ban serves to put a blanket over all the substances and say “NO” to all of them outright. But as with any prohibition, this just forces it underground and like with the already well established and “problematic” (according to the government) set of regular highs. Their prices will go up, their strengths will increase and the problem of legal highs will just grow in a way that can’t be monitored or understood whatsoever.
If we look at a timeline of the events I’ve described above, you can clearly see how prohibition has been the cause of the problem each and every single time. If it weren’t for prohibition there wouldn’t be “organised crime” relating to drugs – making billions every year. If it weren’t for prohibition there wouldn’t be legal highs trying to replace the buzz of illegal highs. Now that legal highs are being prohibited, can you really honestly expect this situation to get better!?
I am a true believer in drug regulation as opposed to drug prohibition. If we regulate substances we not only earn money in VAT from sales, but we can also learn so much. From learning simply the numbers of drug users and amounts of drugs being sold in the country. To far more reaching concerns like what they have taken and how to treat it in case of an overdose. We can promote drug safety if we regulate, but by not regulating we’re leaving drug safety in the hands of drug takers and drug dealers, we’re leaving profits in the hands of organised criminals. We’ve got literally no way of stopping it because its underground and we don’t know that much about it.
Literally the only way forwards from this point is regulation, its proven that you cannot stop people taking drugs if that’s what they want to do. They will do it regardless of your laws and they have been doing it regardless of your laws. Legal High users were an attempt to legitimise the use of drugs – it was an olive branch between drug takers and drug enforcers. It’s just a shame the enforcers took that olive branch and squished it into the ground.