Guest Comment by Geoff Fischer
“Prohibition doesn’t work”. This claim has been repeated so often that people have come to believe it is true. Yet all the evidence shows that prohibition does work. When a manufacture, trade or use of any commodity is prohibited the supply and consumption of that commodity declines. Demand also declines, because the social disapprobration implicit in legal prohibition discourages casual or experimental use of drugs.
“Organised crime takes over the manufacture and distribution of any prohibited commodity”. This is a truism. If trade in a particular commodity is prohibited by law, then people who engage in that trade are by definition criminals. However the reality is that organised crime is attracted to the commercialisation of any kind of human vice, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal. Both globally and locally criminal gangs are involved in the business of legal prostitution and gambling. The reality is that unpleasant people become involved in unpleasant activities, and the people who have been involved in the legal trade in synthetic cannabis to this point have been at best amoral, and at worst thoroughly nasty types. The reality is that New Zealanders are being asked to pander to organised crime by legalising every form of human vice, and no society can afford to do that.
“We need to control demand. Supply side control doesn’t work”. This claim is disingenuous. The liberals who argue against control of supply are the same people who try to justify “moderate” drug use on the grounds of personal gratification and social utility. They don’t want control of supply because they want to satisfy the demand. They themselves do nothing to counter the demand for drugs.
“Regulation is better than prohibition”. Regulation puts the stamp of social approval on drug use, and creates the false impression that regulated drugs are “safe” drugs. It gives a wide range of people and institutions (including merchants, regulators, politicians and the treasury) a financial stake in the drug industry, and thereby a motive to maintain and expand the trade in drugs. It provides a basis for the self-justifying tautological liberal catch-cry “It (prostitution/gambling/liquor/tobacco/synthetic cannabis) is a legal industry and therefore should not face any form of discrimination or hostile bias”.
“Users will suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when drugs are prohibited” That is true, but it is not a valid argument against prohibition. Once social evils have been tolerated and allowed to take root in society, the process of returning to a more normal state of existence will involve considerable individual suffering and significant social costs, but the suffering and the costs of allowing the evil to continue unabated will be much much greater.
Geoff Fischer is a father to 4 sons, with 3 grandsons and 2 granddaughters and counting! He divides his time between his home in Rotorua, his work on various industrial projects around the North Island, and his favorite tramping grounds in both islands.