” The lunacy of Brazil’s drug policy is striking ‘: Luis Roberto Barroso. Photograph: Apu Gomes/ AFP/ Getty Images
In a occurrence still before the Brazilian supreme court, I voted for decriminalising the possession of marijuana for private consumption. The suit has been suspended and no date has been set for its resumption. I also proposed to open a broad debate on the legalisation of marijuana, embarking upon- and then, if successful, cocaine. The topic is extremely delicate, and the outcome hinges on a decision from the legislature.
Drugs are an issue that has a profound impact on the criminal justice system, and it is legitimate for the supreme court to participate in the public debate. So here are the reasons for my views.
First, narcotics are bad and it is therefore the role of the state and society to discourage consumption, treat dependents and repress trafficking. The rationale behind legalisation is rooted in the belief that it will help in achieving these goals.
Second, the war against narcotics has failed. Since the 1970 s, under the influence and leadership of the US, the world has tackled this problem with the use of police forces, armies, and armaments. The tragic reality is that 40 years, billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of prisoners and thousands of deaths afterward, things are worse. At least in countries like Brazil.
Third, as the American economist Milton Friedman argued, the only result of criminalisation is ensuring the trafficker’s monopoly.
With these points in intellect, what would legalisation achieve?
In most countries in North America and Europe, the greatest fear of the authorities concerned is users and the impact drugs have on their lives and on society. These are all important considerations. In Brazil, however, the principal focus is necessary objective the dominance drug dealer exercise over poor communities. Gangs had now become the main political and economic power in thousands of modest neighborhoods in Brazil. This scenario avoids a family of honest and hard-working people from educating their children away from the influence of criminal factions, who intimidate, co-opt and exercising an unjust advantage over any lawful activity. Crucially, this power of trafficking comes from illegality.
Another benefit of legalisation would be to prevent the mass incarceration of impoverished young person with no criminal record who are arrested for trafficking because they are caught in possession of negligible quantities of marijuana. A third of detainees in Brazil are imprisoned for drug trafficking. Once arrested, young prisoners will have to join one of the factions that control the penitentiaries- and on that day, they become dangerous.
Moreover, each place in prison expenses 40,000 reais( PS9, 174) to create and 2,000 reais a month to maintain. Worse still, within a day of one man being arrested, another is recruited from the reserve army that prevail in poor communities.
The insanity of this policy is striking: it destroys lives, makes worse outcomes for society, is expensive, and has no impact on drug trafficking. Only superstition, prejudice or ignorance could induce someone think this is effective.
For these reasons, I believe we should consider alternative means of combating narcotics , not least better planning, expert engagement and greater attention to the experiences of other countries. We should consider the possibility of dealing with marijuana as we deal with cigarettes: a licit product, governed, sold in certain places, taxed, and subject to age and ad limiteds, alerting notices and campaigns discouraging consumption. In the past two decades, cigarette intake in Brazil has more than halved; opposing in the light of day, with ideas and datum, has brought better results.
We cannot is to ensure that a progressive and cautious policy of decriminalisation and legalisation will be successful. What we can affirm is that the existing policy of criminalisation has failed. We must take chances; otherwise, we risk simply accepting a terrible situation. As the Brazilian navigator Amyr Klink said:” The worst shipwreck is not setting off at all .”