end the war on drugs to win the war on terror

There are many reasons to legalise drugs. British journalist Misha Glenny writes about one that is often overlooked: ending the war on drugs can help governments pursue the war on terror by depriving criminals of a major source of revenue. Legalising recreational drugs also produces fiscal benefits: governments can tax legal drugs and avoid the cost of arresting and incarcerating users of illegal drugs.

The terms may no longer be politically correct but western governments continue to wage both a war on terror and a war on drugs. They now need to recognise what is staring them in the face : that the prosecution of the latter makes it impossible to win the former. ….

The billions spent by America and its allies on war in Afghanistan since 2001 have not destroyed the Taliban. On the contrary, funds from heroin sales have made the group stronger than ever. ….

The movement of cocaine and marijuana through west Africa and the Maghreb has provided various organisations linked to al-Qaeda and Isis with a cash boost. Western governments cannot stop drugs reaching their cities, and their passage benefits some of the worst people in the world.

But the problems do not end there. Homegrown terrorists in Britain and France are often radicalised in prison, after first being jailed for drugs offences or other petty crime. ….

Canada’s new government is set to legalise marijuana for recreational use and Britain should do the same. The crises we face today are so serious that it is not only bad politics to resist drug law reform — it is downright immoral.

Misha Glenny, “To win the war on terror, forget the war on drugs“, Financial Times, 4 January 2016 (metered paywall).

Misha Glenny (born 1958) is a British journalist. His latest book is Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio (Knopf, 2016), a biography of Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, possibly Brazil’s most wanted criminal.

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