Blueprint for Regulation

After the War on Drugs
Stephen Rolles
Transform Drug Policy Foundation
November 2009

blueprint-sThere is a growing recognition around the world that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been a widespread fear of the unknown—just what could a post-prohibition regime look like?

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For the first time, ‘After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation' answers that question by proposing specific models of regulation for each main type and preparation of prohibited drug, coupled with the principles and rationale for doing so. We demonstrate that moving to the legal regulation of drugs is not an unthinkable, politically impossible step in the dark, but a sensible, pragmatic approach to control drug production, supply and use.

Global drug policy is rooted in a laudable and justifiable urge to address the strong, and very definite, harms that certain non-medical psychoactive drugs can create. This urge has driven a prohibitionist global agenda based on viewing drugs as a ‘threat’, an agenda that gives clear and direct moral authority to those who support it, while casting those who are against it as ethically and politically irresponsible. However, both experience and research suggest that the most effective way of minimising drug harms is through regulation, based upon normative, legal frameworks, rather than prohibition. With this report, we are seeking to engage with such arguments, and to replace moral absolutism with an ethics of effectiveness. In particular, we are looking to show in very practical terms how drug legalisation could be managed, and how a post-legalisation world might look.

By proposing a menu of workable options for the regulation and control of drug production, supply and use, we hope to end the polarisation and deadlock around the drug law reform debate.

It is clear that whatever the precise form legal regulation and control takes in a post-prohibition world, the social and economic challenges relating to drug use will be different, and vastly reduced in scale. We will no longer be squandering resources in an unwinnable battle against problems largely created by the failed War on Drugs itself. Instead, we will be able to focus on effectively and humanely addressing both the destructive consequences of problematic use, and its underlying causes.