No Crime Plan Without Legalising Drugs

By Leanna Ganga
April 18, 2017

MarijuanaImagine a society where all drugs are legal and persons can openly purchase any drug of their choice from licensed and regulated distributors, just like they already purchase cigarettes and alcohol.

One may think of such a society in a state of what sociologists call anomie and deviance, with lots of intoxicated people committing criminal acts and the majority of citizens being addicts. This thinking, however, would be inaccurate.

Empirical evidence demonstrates human societies have always had cultures of intoxication and used mild to strong hallucinogens. For example, from ancient civilizations to pre-20th century USA, and even pre-1960 Trinidad, the evidence shows that marijuana/ganja was used for recreational, medicinal, religious and other purposes. Dr. Peter Hanoomansingh, for example, documented a time in Trinidad and Tobago when you could still buy ganja over the counter. In these eras, there is strong evidence that we did not have societies plagued by violence, corruption and other drug-related problems, which many researchers indicate is a direct consequence of the war on drugs.

As Raffique Shah mentioned in his column recently, many of us know people who use drugs occasionally and are functional, contributing members of society including lawyers, doctors, and students. However, persons from upper and middle-class communities are not targeted for drug use as are members of the lower classes. This also relates to the inherent racism of the drug war that predominantly targets brown and black persons.

The rationale for a society without drug dealers and, therefore less crime, is spelled out by Johann Hari in Chasing the Scream: The First and Last days of the war on drugs.

In his book, there are several well-documented experiments across the globe with reported successes including legalizing and decriminalizing drugs from marijuana to heroin. These experiments have been carried out in places such as Washington, Uruguay, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Colorado. These experiments resulted in lower crime rates, decreased addiction, help for drug addicts, taxes from drugs sales to build schools and launch anti-drug educational campaigns, thereby freeing up the criminal justice system to focus resources on other pressing issues.

Drugs being illegal keep gangsters and corrupt officials in business. If drugs were legal, there would be no need for drug pushers, or for people endangering their lives to purchase drugs.

Without drug dealers, there would be no need for constant police raids which mostly target lower class and predominantly black communities. As Hari demonstrates, the global drug war fuelled by the USA, was founded on racism. This same system of racial and socio-economic hierarchy has been imported to our own war on drugs.

A second war is the war for drugs. Since drug dealing is illegal, the theft of drugs cannot be reported to authorities. To protect their livelihoods, and also to instil order, drug dealers use violence and a culture of terror to maintain order. As the anthropologist, Phillipe Bourgois illustrated in his ethnography amongst drug dealers, this involves committing brutal acts to establish a fearsome reputation, the result of which can lead to more violence. The illegal drug trade also gives rise to other problems, some identified by former AG Ramesh Maharaj, such as sex crimes, drug addiction and drug-related corruption of law enforcement and public officials.

One way to address all these issues is to legalize drugs, an admittedly arduous task which would require much research and policy planning.

I propose serious discussion and consideration of the legalisation of marijuana which could address some of the issues facing us today. There also exist legitimate arguments highlighting the various medicinal uses and other benefits that should be considered. Moreover, the declogging of the courts and prisons can also be accrued with the decriminalisation of drugs. It has been reported that in Trinidad and Tobago three-quarters of all cases in the magistrates’ courts involve marijuana possession. Attention should be paid to all these arguments.

Decriminalisation of drugs would result in the reduction of criminal records but it still does not address its illegality and its resultant culture of violence. Legalization, takes this industry away from the underground economy.

The argument I present here is this: legalize drugs to reduce the crime rate, especially violent crimes, gang warfare, drug possession, illegal firearms, white collar crime and corruption in Trinidad and Tobago. Also, if drugs are made legal, more control can be placed to ensure better quantity and purity of these substances.

It is impossible to address the current crime situation without taking steps to legalize drugs.

9 thoughts on “No Crime Plan Without Legalising Drugs”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly, having lived in some of those countries and witnessed it first hand.

    But in T&T the religious leaders will crucify you or anyone that dares to treat anything rationally. The Global Commission on Drug Policy has been writing about this for a long time.

  2. Alcohol is a legal drug responsible for the highest number of traffic accidents, promiscuity (removes inhibitions), broken homes -marriages and child abuse, number of health issues. Addicts do all they can to keep their addiction secret.

    We do have a massive drug industry led by big Pharma who would applaud the idea of unfettered access to all kinds of drugs via their drug cartel aka drug stores. It would mean more profits for them because druggies fund their business. Without druggies no business. Every year there are all kind of illegal drugs hitting the market.

    It is a fact that marijuana is legalized in Colorado and some states soon to follow, Canada by July first will decriminalize marijuana. Jamaica has decriminalize to some extent. Yes there is a pattern here and TNT will soon follow whatever happen to the north of us.

    Marijuana has been around for as far back as I can remember. It is not new, my uncle, neighbour and even the pundit used to smoke marijuana. Once the police came for the neighbour, he covered himself with oil bolted through the door, I guess he was an easy slip, they could not hold on to him.

    Cities in North America have drug centers where druggies can get free drugs so they don’t have to use dirty needles and get hepatitist. The experiment has worked because those who want to quit have trained people willing to help them. Unfortunately with drug the addicts they get clean and go back to their habit in moments of weakness or depression.

    Legalizing will not solve the problem. I was in Mexico where alcohol is the chief item on sale at Wal Mart there were alcoholics all over the place. No the problem is not going to be solved by easy access to mind altering drugs. The best the government can do is to decriminalize marijuana meaning a guy with 4 joints or less does not get a criminal record. It is a waste of the court time and police time to prosecute. If they have more than 4 joints, they pay a $100 for each additional joint.

    Government and big Pharma sees the sale of illegal drugs over the counter as big business and an opportunity to get taxes and put an end to the drug dealer on the street corner. The government with a host of grow opts, lab technicians could produce marijuana at various TCB grade level. Thereby ensuring marijuana with dangerous TCB level do not reach young people under 17 years old.
    Nuff said.

  3. Marijuana was decriminalized in Canada many years ago. Legalization is presently being considered, but some Canadian cities already have marijuana shops selling to the public for medical use.The police basically ignored recreational users with small amounts of the herb. Chasing recreational users is a waste of police resources and a burden on the courts. T&T should have decriminalized marijuana a long time ago. It is a major step to legalize all drugs, without first easing the restrictions on marijuana on an experimental basis to allow for a period of adjustment. Serious consideration should be given before any attempts are made to legalize other hard drugs since new ,dangerous ones are released on the market quite often.
    There are experimental programs in some major cities involving heroine and safe user sites. These are necessary first steps before any before any suggestions to legalize should be considered.
    It is sad to see young people in T&T being sent to jail by conservative judges for smoking a joint in public, while accused rapists are given bail by the same judges. The preoccupation with marijuana use in T&T is hypocritical. Alcohol is widely promoted and excessively provided in every government function.

  4. We keep talking about marijuana and only marijuana. While that is the easiest to consider what about all the others.

    I had friends from the US stay with me in the past who went to the pharmacy and bought everything they could afford. There one worry was would they get stopped and have it all taken away on arrival in the US. In other words we sell very prohibitive stuff now legally in the pharmacies. What would any other drug do??

  5. Why marijuana became illegal

    Published on Apr 20, 2017, 10:00 pm AST
    By Noel Kalicharan

    The “war on marijuana” has been waged for close to one hundred years, cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, made criminals out of millions of otherwise law-abiding persons, denied life-saving medicine to millions more, without making the smallest dent in its availability.

    Three men orchestrated the war: William Randolph Hearst (newspaper magnate), Andrew Mellon (former Treasury Secretary and one of America’s wealthiest bankers and industrialists) and Harry Anslinger (appointed by his uncle-in-law Mellon to be the first Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s newly reorganised Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, forerunner to the Drug Enforcement Agency). Throw in the DuPont Chemical Company, whose main financier was Mellon Bank, and you have the prime players.

    Full Article :

  6. Sometime in the late 80’s over a programme hosted by Winston Maynard on Radio Trinidad named,”You Are On The Air, on Wednesday nights.”In fact it was he who begun Radio Talk Show in T&T with two shows the other was the Sunday morning “Bring Yuh Music And Come.”
    On one of the nights my contribution was that Drugs must be legalised with one proviso that before that is done the State MUST begin a National education programme from kindergarten to Univeasity, over one to two years. In fact over the entire country over all the media, Banners Posters etc, Cinemas can only be granted a license to operate, when the owner agree to show the education documentaries about the harmful effects of these drugs that affects both the addicts or maybe addicts and the society as a whole before they show the movies.
    I remember that during World War 11 you had to see News of the World in every cinema before.
    The documentaries and education materials would include prominent citizens who unfortunately became victims of drug abuse and recovered both national and international personalities that will give testimonies of the HELL EXPERIENCES THEY passed through. Keith Smith (now in transmission) as an Editor of the Express newspaper in a centre spread published his experiences as a recovering COCAINE ADDICT it was entitled “To HELL And Back.
    With the eventual legalization of all these drugs Worldwide CRIME will be taken out of the drugs.


Comments are closed.