DRUGS should be legalised because there is a “human right” to use them, according to a new book by an Irish criminal law expert.
Paul O’Mahony also said the war on drugs had “failed catastrophically” in Ireland, and across the world.
The Trinity College psychologist and criminologist said it was a “scandal” that enormous resources were being used to enforce prohibition. He said this policy had not only failed to lower drug use, but may have contributed to its increase.
In his book, The Irish War on Drugs, the Seductive Folly of Prohibition, Mr O’Mahony said the campaign for abolition needed a clear, rallying idea, which would cut through complex arguments.
“What is required to achieve a tipping point, a revolution in thinking, is a bold, inspirational idea to which people can subscribe as a matter of self-evident principle.
“Only the concept of a human right to use drugs can fulfil this role of providing a meaningful, inspiring and unifying idea which can guide the transition to a fully non-prohibitionist system.”
He said there was a human right to use drugs, so long as it did not negatively impact on the rights of others.
He said such a right was consistent with legal and constitutional concepts of individual freedom and human rights.
“Recognition of the right to use drugs is warranted in moral and legal terms and is in accord with the scientific understanding of human nature.” He said the appetite for mood-altering substances and new experiences was “normal” from a physical, psychological and social point of view.
Mr O’Mahony said prohibition had failed to acknowledge the differences between less and more dangerous illegal drugs and the fundamental similarities between illegal drugs and legal drugs, such as alcohol and prescribed drugs.
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