Legalise and Regulate Illicit Drugs

Guest writer Mick Hall with a contribution to the discussion on the drugs issue. Mick Hall is a long time left wing activist and he blogs at Organized Rage.

Legalise and regulate illicit drugs: Let's talk about it not push it back into the closet.

One doesn't have to be an advocate for drug use to understand the war on drugs has been a complete disaster, one need only search out the hard facts. It delivers users into the hands of criminals and in the process criminalises millions of people who in all probability would never come into conflict with the criminal justice system.

We can prance around the edges as some of the commentators to the Quill's No Dope thread attempted to do, or take the bull by the horns and legalise and regulate what are now illicit drugs, most of which have been proven to be less harmful than legal products like alcohol and cigarettes.

By the way we could make a start by not using language like junkies and heroin zombies. We have seen in recent years how such derogatory language has been used to demonise the section of society the media calls 'the underclass.' It's very revealing when drug addicts are portrayed in the media more often than not they will be from that class, when in reality they come from all sections of society and all walks of life.

Dehumanising language like this is used by the ruling elites to justify their war on drugs. A war which has enriched, or provided jobs for a raft of so called respectable people. From the Bankers like those at HSBC who laundered hundreds of millions of dollars for the drug cartels, the police, the spooks who now have illicit drugs in their remit, the legal profession who defend, prosecute and sentence those caught in the prohibition trap, the jailers who incarcerate them, and the multitude of businesses which swim in the imprisonment industries wake, and finally the drug treatment business which gets larger by the day, despite having an appalling lack of success. In truth the list is endless.

On the latter, have you ever wondered why smokers are portrayed and deemed as having a mere habit, while drug addicts allegedly have mental health problems and are in need of the psychiatric wing of the medical profession, when in reality both are addicted to a powerful drug?

If anything it should be the other way around as the life expectancy for the smoker is clearly much shorter than a heroin addict, who were they to be given access to pharmaceutical product could live to the same average age as their fellow citizens. It is the lack of clean drugs which mainly kill the heroin addict not the narcotic, while for the smoker their drug of choice is pure poison.

By pointing this out I am not demanding the prohibition of cigarettes, but highlighting the sheer hypocrisy and crass stupidity of the war on drugs.

People take drugs for a host of differing reasons but mainly because they enjoy them. Thankfully few come to harm if they manage to keep out of the clutches of the law, which in itself is yet another sound reason for legalisation and regulation.

I am not an advocate of drug taking, far from it in fact, but human beings often need an outlet to smooth over the pressures of life. Some bite the altar-bar, go down the pub, or both, watch a football match; others take illegal substances. We need to show some respect, and treat people like adults and allow them to make their own choices and cease being judgmental because the man in the big house demands it.

Óglaigh na hÉireann

As to the IRA and its ridiculous, infantile and nasty war on drugs, it should have made them a laughing stock. In reality what they were doing was aping the behaviour of the very forces of reaction they claimed to oppose. It was Richard Nixon who first declared war on drugs in 1971, at a time when he was attempting to bomb the Cambodian and Vietnamese people back to the stone age. That alone should have forewarned the Irish Republican movement to steer clear. But no, they thought by joining Tricky Dickey's crusade they would be on the side of the angels. Even when Ronald Reagan opportunistically took up Nixon's baton in the 1980s, and used the war on drugs as a sideline to help fund the Contras and the other counter-revolutionary forces in an attempt to halt the rise of progressive forces in south and central America, the IRA still did not pull back.

It's impossible not to be contemptuous when senior commanders of the IRA ordered volunteers to shoot and maim working class youngsters for little more than behaving like the teenagers they were.

I can understand they may have feared drug users, or their dealers might become easy pickings when the police and security services were trawling for touts and thus threaten the security of an underground army, but the same could be said about anyone who carries out a criminal act, or come to that takes protection money from criminals. The hypocrisy displayed here is best demonstrated by the fact at the same time the IRA was waging war on drugs they ran or taxed pubs and drinking clubs and presumably also the fruit machines within them.

To claim as the IRA did that they brutalised both users and dealers to protect "their communities" is rank hypocrisy. It makes a truism of the war on drugs is a war on our own children. In many cases one cannot help feeling the IRA's war on drugs boiled down to little more than there can only be one king of the dung-heap. As Napoleon Bonaparte once pointed out: 'Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.'

The future

It is my opinion that if drugs were legalised and regulated, in time fewer people would take them. This would be especially true of narcotics like heroin, although I am less sure about cannabis which is widely used as an alternative to alcohol. What I am certain of, if legalised those who have developed problems due to their drug taking would search out help much earlier and hopefully some of the money currently being wasted on the war on drugs which runs into billions will be channeled into this field.

Throughout much of human history drugs which are illegal today were widely available to all without any stigma attached, and were commonly used for a host of differing maladies. Opium was used for both pleasure and to treat chronic pain and to this day it is regarded by the medical profession as the finest painkiller known to humankind. Sadly since the war on drugs was proclaimed many doctors are fearful of prescribing it in adequate doses, even to terminally ill patients, in case they are accused of malpractice.

During the 19th century an Opium derivative, Laudanum, was used to treat a variety of ailments which varied from diarrhoea to nausea. It could be brought over the counter in pharmacies as too could morphine. In 1926 the law was changed and it along with morphine/heroin had to be prescribed by a doctor.

This system worked reasonably well until the late 1960s when there was a media generated campaign to ban doctors prescribing heroin to addicts. This did not happen immediately but the law was made more restrictive in 1968 and again in the early 1970s, about the same time Nixon was declaring war on drugs. Prescribing heroin to UK addicts all but ceased, although a tiny number of doctors linked to psychiatric hospital departments were still allowed to prescribe if they linked it to a research program. Once psychiatrists got involved, also brought into play was the mad, bad, or sad, 'theory' of addiction endorsed by many GPs and so beloved by the mainstream media.

Today the treatment of drug addiction within the NHS is one of the few, if not the only disease, where the medical profession negates its responsibility and allows the Home Office to dictate the terms of the treatment their patients receive. Which for the majority basically boils down to a daily prescription for small amounts of oral methadone, a highly addictive synthetic opioid.

It is hardly surprising for problem drug users its been down hill ever since.

In recent years more sensible heads have begun to place themselves above the parapet and refuse to be intimidated or shouted down, often by those who have a vested interest in keeping illicit drugs illegal. Most recognise the war on drugs, like the war on terror, has become a costly disaster and it's only fitting within the USA, the home of prohibition, more and more people are questioning whether its time to legalise and regulate. Cannabis is now freely available in some US states, having been decriminalised after public referendums. Which in itself shows how much public opinion has changed and how out of touch today's ruling political elites have become.

It is time for a change and to those who say legalization and regulation will only make matters worse I would say this. With the current status quo in place, its difficult to see how things could get much worse. Millions of people across the world are imprisoned for drug offenses, some entombed for a lifetime. Billions if not trillions of dollars have been poured into the war on drugs yet today more people take illicit drugs than when Nixon first declared war on drugs. What we have today is not even a holding operation.

Our public institutions have been corrupted by the massive amounts of drug money floating around the system. We caught a glimpse of this when HSBC were exposed as the bank the Cali drug Cartel loves the best. Few doubt other banks are also up to their necks in money laundering drug money. After all, the trillions the cartels make is not made into haystacks now is it?

Finally with legalization and regulation the problem drug user would become a public health issue, not as now victims of the criminal justice system and a totally unregulated market.

Whats not to like?


  1. Friends, Romans and TPQ-ers if you have about 2hrs to spare, watch these two video's... Reefer madness and The Truth About Heroin ..

    I've said before here legalize the lot. And the money rasied for selling drugs goes to sending backstreet alchemist' who sell 'E, smack, acid..., to uni to become pharmacist's (they already ready have a 'flair' for chemistry)..

    And the guy's who sells weed. Maybe send them to uni to study... agriculture. They have green fingers ( not sure if the pun is intended)..Other growers could go into buisness and open trade links with the couple of south American countires where it's ok to smoke ..and they could also tap into the market in north America too ..

    Then there are those who have entrepreneurial skill's...They'd look at the plant and go "Hmmmm" 25,000 different by products from that one green plant"..

    There needs to be an open and honest frank debate about the war on drugs..

  2. Was there ever a war against drugs as such Mick? I reckon it was more a war over the control and supply of drugs ie., gangsters v wankers, a good post Mick a cara and for sure a subject many do not want to really engage in,taking drugs for one reason or other seems to be part of human evolution,and as you well know if there is a demand there will always be a supply, so in many ways in makes sense to regulate that supply,one thing for sure we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and hope this goes away,there is noting as sickening as watching someone you love die a slow death through smoking related cancer legalised murder for profit and government revenue,there is now a concerted effort to tackle the harm that cigarettes have and are doing, nations are in the process of "weeding " users of them maybe an honest approach can help future generations make educated decisions on the use of such products, demonising them as you say only drives them further down, one thing for sure it will need to be an open and honest approach to the misuse of drugs that will solve this problem not bullets or prison.

  3. Thats the stuff legalise the whole lot. Then the likes of eddie haughey can make lots of more dosh. There was never a war on drugs just a phoney war. If perhaps the west was as strict as other countries in asia and the middle east are we might not see the proliferation of drugs? Hang the dealer perhaps???? I know it would put me off dealing if there was a risk i would get the rope. Its laughable that people think that if we 'regulate' drugs, and that means trusting corrupt regimes in the west to look after the regulation properly-in case you havnt noticed the london regime is privatising everything it can. What happens when they decide to privatise these drugs? When some business man takes over he wont be discouraging people not to take drugs thats for sure.
    I firmly believe western govts have quietly encouraged the taking of drugs especially in the more deprived areas they rule because they tend to be the areas that rise up when the government is squeezing them. Drug them up and you tame them down. Mao Tse-tung banned the use of opium when he saw the effects it had on his people-opium users proved to be unreliable and gave up easily, which isnt good if you want to lead a revolution! If only the brits had realised its potential 100 years ago we may not have heard of connolly,pearse etc.
    Forgive me if i prance around this issue of normalising drugs but heck if i am sure lots of skanks get a kick out of paedophilia-will we be asked to normalise that next just because the 'war' on paedophiles isnt working?????

  4. Good read – good insights Mick Hall. NB An injecting centre utilising harm min and harm reduction in Dublin would be a big start for Ireland. Injecting centres accommodate all kinds of illicit usage not just IV. Engaging with clientele assists them to get into help services ranging from medical through to psych through to shelters and more permanent accommodation. If an individual wants to keep using you can counsel them to make it as contained as possible. Video I made ages ago – harm min harm reduction message. (if u r trying to stay clean don’t watch – too triggery – nothing u wouldn’t know about)

    I think communities do need to safeguard their area from dealers but must admit am very dubious re how it is/was enacted in Ireland… Extortion Robin Hood numbers for the cause etc justifying grabbing drug profits Its all bs and people get taken out sooner or later. Kneecapping I am fine with but I am all for marking out the dealer’s house with paint Used to see it all the time in the inner city in Sydney. Worked a treat – they had to. leave. And people used to paint up signs like Stay away from our kids and put the dealers name etc haha choice move! This was in public/social housing estates where addiction and dealing is rife.

    More radical action done by others to safeguard their community and kids don’t worry me. Do it I say do it. Because dealers r targeting the young and the youngest they will get to shift the drugs around before they get them using/get a habit.
    Re the terminology junkie and so forth. Yeah suppose it is demeaning but trust me when u got a habit u know what u is – a junkie. A cop killed me in the guts when I was coming around from a ‘drop’ heroin od on the footpath and called me a ‘filthy junkie’ I was 16 and not one of those ambulance officers tried to protect me from his further physical assault on my skinny drug fucked body. One never forgets that sort of humiliation and labelling like you are human shit. I was arrested of course but thanks to a trannie in the cells advice I pleaded with the judge to get me help and did months in a ward with alkies Ah the life of a ‘junkie’ Thrilling (not)

    We don’t go calling big fat arsed people shovelling cakes in their gobs “Porkers” “Gutsface glutton” “sugar fix addict” etc. to their face (I do mentally lol) but street addicts r fair game for abuse from all strata’s of society. The wealthy can maintain their addiction without too much drama. It’s all a game you know and the few and there are not that many that make it out to straightdom can call it for what it is Utter hypocrisy… For decades

    I scraped my way from the gutter, crept around with shame and fear in case someone found out about my 14 years of using and made it through to so called civilization only to find the air is more fetid in straightdom than it ever was on the streets. Now I couldn’t give a flying fuck who knows but one thing is society never forgives or forgets if u been an addict, done time etc NEVER.

    LISTEN UP PPL - The po po men are in on it, the customs officials r in on it, the pharmaceutical companies are in it, the ra was/is on it – follow that cocaine trail boys… Everyone is freaking in on it. I am only interested in protecting the vulnerable from succumbing to addiction and assisting those who want to get clean or contain their addiction to manageable levels. The rest can go to hell in a hand basket. Legalise the shit and watch the crime rate drop.
    PS as for the other article on the Quill you referred to – their interest was primarily in the para’s role in shifting the illicit not addressing much else and so on…

  5. Wolf tone

    The Eddie Haughey's of this world have long been in the drug trade. There English equivalents long ago got the British state to go to war in defense of the opium trade, (Opium wars with China) and the modern variety are both the main drug financiers; and launderers of drug profits.

    As the the hangers and floggers in the far east and Iran, its the sickest PR window dressing, almost all of these nations are either major growers or enables of the drug trade. It is not a coincidence some of the main transits routs go through these nations. The far east to Australia, and Japan then onto USA, Iran via Turkey to Europe.

    With respect politically you seem all over the place, you rightly claim to have no confidence in those who rule over us, yet you allow them to set your thinking on illicit drugs.

    You fail to understand the most unregulated market on earth is the growing, manufacturer and sale of illicit drugs.

    Why not deal with the issues I raised, then we might have a useful debate



  6. dont buy your heroin of the prince philip

  7. Mick I think the embedding of delusionary understanding of illict v licit is so thorough and also a degree of ignorance is there. Many would rather stick to the old us and them stuff. It is usually when a person loses a loved one to addiction or experiences something (being mugged) related to addiction that consciousness is heightened.

    If illicit was regulated and legalised... Thousands of people would still be alive actually and the whole market drug trade would implode and crash. But this logic is heard as support of usage and all the knee jerk reactions kick in...

    A film that is useful in illustrating a different approach to addicts/drug dealing by cops on the beat is Thru a blue lens Filmed in Vancouver. Australia Canada & Switzerland lead the world in harm min and harm reduction U would think the world would have learnt by now but they haven't.

  8. @ grouch there is prolific abuse of alcohol and illicit amongst the elites... They just have the money to hide it better Lots of liver & vein damage and nasal passage mucus membrane destroyed.... Seen it with me own eyes when working in healthcare. Hard to feel the degree of compassion I feel for the non elites I must admit but addiction is hell for all. The Royals would deal you a 'hotshot' lol (death dose) By the way the Vatican has its share of coke users too Busted was a load of coca en route there. No surprise really...

  9. @ Frankie re movies - we recidivist addicts used to watch them in detox/rehab Was in so many and failed them all for years so know those movies inside out Reefer Madness is a good example of propaganda I kinda stop larfing about it all after friends started dropping like flies I recall the lst funeral of a friend (17 y.o) & the looks of searing grief on her parents faces... Have lost count of all those who died Its just too awful but it was the hep c and hiv that flattened most of us... I cleared the hep c after years of illness. Wot a f..ker of a disease. No-one to blame but me ignorance back then - hanging out I shared a needle. Such is life. I have a deep aversion to vinyl therapy chairs, Stemetil/anti nausea meds, Salvation Army meals and detox wards which has stayed with me to this day lol A good book to read is Magnificent Addiction by shrink Dr Kavaungh. He was an addict.

  10. Organised Rage

    If former european colonies are up to their necks in the drugs trade and supplying the western nations then i would say thats good karma.If Iran,Afghanistan,far east etc were allowed to live freely and be mature nations centuries ago then perhaps they couldve been enabled to build their economies to respectable levels without having to delve into the drug business.
    I can speak from personal experience that during the troubles when the IRA was putting manners on these poison pushers i welcomed it. In my home town it was hard to obtain these drugs in fact most people had to go to other towns to get their fix. Alas the ceasefire arrives and it is now common to see youngsters out of their heads in fields and parks and also to see syringes lying about. Also since the ceasefire the upsurge in violent killings due to stabbings etc and the incidents of stabbings full stop seems to have surge in the north and again i just wonder if the wider availability of drugs has any part in this? As a republican i am not proud to see that in my area. How this is 'cherishing all of our children' is beyond me. As a republican i would like to know what causes these kids to delve into drugs rather than to normalise it for them.
    As a parent i would not be proud to witness my kids become dependent on any drug, i would feel i let them down as a parent. I try to encourage my kids to get their 'kicks' by participating in sports,music etc.
    I have sympathy for any addict but please dont force me to sympathise with a pusher-flog them or hang'em high i dont care.

  11. Wolf Tone.Will we hang the bar men alongside them.Oh and the chape feg sellers.

  12. Billy brooks

    I learnt quickly that the friendly bar man is just interested in profits too. Should we normalise more drugs just like the alcohol one ? The last few years people are rightly complaining that cigs were/are a curse on society. We would all agree the should never have been introduced at all. And so rather than learn from our mistakes[normalising smoking] we in our wisdom want to normalise more drugs????? Brilliant. I will say it again we are all weak and have succumbed to all types of drugs in our lives i admit that. Those dependent on drugs dont want to admit they are weak.
    I will ask anyone who has kids, would they be proud if their kid rolled up their sleeve and injected themselves in front of you? If that makes you proud and 'normal' then i give up.
    I firmly believe there are major voices urging legalisation of drugs purely to make profit but they hide the motive. Instead the pretend they are doing it to help society.

  13. @ WolfeTone u r a text book example of the naïve and ignorant who rail against logic in addressing the drug trade and the fallout. You dish out beauties like ‘Those dependent on drugs dont want to admit they are weak’ The reality is those who use and subsequently abuse drugs to the point of addiction are not weak but have used initially for kicks, to blockade trauma, experimental usage etc

    DNA, family of origin etc play a role in how subject a person is to addiction and then there are countless cases of those who with no precipitating factors just got hooked.

    I think Mick Hall has just bailed out because it is pointless trying to engage in dialogue with resistance and embedded delusions with those comments.

    History is full of great men and women who were addicts and could not be described as ‘weak’. I think addiction is a tragedy and certainly not something to sit back and dish out judgements on those afflicted with it. Be grateful you never succumbed to it. It takes tremendous courage to kick a habit and relapse is part of the journey out initially. Being hooked is like wanting a drink of water 24/7 and u r burning up for it. I have never and I mean never seen any addict proud of their addiction and having in the past worked years in the treatment of addiction field that’s a fact. You may occasionally find a novice user showing off their ‘tracks’/stuffed veins but invariably the veins r aok – they just want to project they r into it bigtime – got a fullon habit.

    NB Same sort of bragging can be observed with alcoholics bragging how much they can drink etc Are ye that thick you cannot see it is all tragic attempts at trying to validate themselves. Neither forms of bragging are ever taken seriously – just viewed for what it is. One may challenge the person on this behaviour but no need to – they know they is projecting bravado bullshit…
    I strongly suggest you attend an abstinence model meeting like Narcotics Anonymous Keep your big judgemental mouth shut tightly and just listen…. As for maintenance treatment (ie) methadone – liquid handcuffs old skool and so forth… No-one wants to a ball and chain existence Maintenance treatment keeps the user alive and also gives a break from the using chaos They can then get some quality of life but do you really think it is weakness I will tell ya what it is It is HELL a living hell living like that… As for legalising illicit – I don’t think there will be a big queue of lst time users for hard illicit and if there is there will soon be a big queue to get off the shit.

    Take your tin foil hat off as well – on second thoughts wear it to an NA meeting The members will get a larf and are very accepting of ‘different’ lolz

  14. Mary Marscal

    I have been a smoker and drinker and heck i even dabbled with the weed. I am man enough to tell my kids i was stupid[weak] entertaining these drugs in my life i.e criticizing myself, i hope it will have some impact on how they conduct their lives. Nowadays i get a kick out of making my kids laugh and having a conversation with them. If my kids decide to drink smoke take weed etc i will tell them to be careful and do so in moderation. If these drugs werent available then i would have less to worry about.
    Trust me i dont need lectures on the impact drugs does to a person and i wasnt belittling any addict but merely i was pointing out that if people have/had problems in their lives that has driven them into the arms of drugs then we should be confronting what the causes of their problems are rather than handing them a spliff,syringe etc
    I dont wish to offend so with that i will bow out too but i will still caution people to be careful what you wish for-the grass might be greener on the other side but it could be harder to maintain. No pun intended.

  15. the present drug policy like the drug policy of the good old war years was and is barbaric. Either policy didn't really do anything except shift attention away from a huge problem to a distorted and much smaller one. The so called war on drugs conveniently shift public attention away from white collar crime and huge inadequacies in the system and focuses it on petty crime and degeneracy.- The anti drugie campaigns in Irish cities fostered a feeling of effectiveness and power which was just as illusionary as drugs themselves. I wonder how much anti establishment resentment and potential was wasted by vigilante behavior.