From very modest beginnings forty years ago, illegal drugs have become a major concern in every country. Led by America, governments have introduced prohibitionist policies, but even the most grotesque legal sanctions have failed to make any impression on the problem and the streets of our towns and cities remain awash with drugs.
The international drug industry is second only to the arms trade in value, and it pays no tax. It has spawned corruption which threatens the stability of nations, and its scale makes it ineradicable.
Evidence of the failure of prohibition is everywhere. Anybody who wishes to can buy drugs. The price has never been lower. Drug-related criminal activity costs the nation billions of pounds a year and clogs up the courts and our prisons. Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent trying to prevent drugs reaching our shores, with very little success, and the NHS spends millions of pounds on drug-related illness.
Only by taking the money out of the drug trade can the world hope to make progress, and the only way to take the business away from the criminal gangs is to make drugs legal. Simultaneous international legalisation of all drugs, with robust measures to control access to them, will not be easy to achieve, but it holds out the best chance of taming and controlling the menace of drugs.
About the Author
Max Rendall - Max Rendall, MB, B.CHIR, FRCS, was Senior Lecturer and Consultant Surgeon at Guy's Hospital and Medical School.