As an advocate of liberalisation of drugs policy, one of the questions I often get asked is exactly what sort of system would I want to see for how drugs could be distributed if they were legalised.
I respond along the lines of requiring a proper regulatory framework and I have my own ideas about how this could work but the exact nature of how this could be implemented is subject to debate even amongst those of us who advocate liberalisation.
As I type, Steve Rolles of Transform Drug Policy Foundation is at the Houses of Parliament to discuss a new document they are launching today entitled: "After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation" which attempts to set out the issues and options relating to this.
I am only about a quarter of the way through it at the moment but so far it is making a lot of sense to me and seems to be a very detailed account of the options available for regulation under a legalised scheme. It is also realistic about what it will take to get there with reference to the UN conventions and international treaties that make it nigh on impossible for most countries to legalise at the moment.
There is also a recognition that in order to get there, we need to bring people from all sides of the debate with us. It accepts that most advocates of "The War on Drugs" are well intentioned and worried about the harm that drugs cause in our society. The point the document makes over and over again is that the war has failed and is actually causing harm. I think the idea of trying to persuade the most trenchent critics of liberalisation is the right one.
It also repeatedly makes the point that we need to separate out the harm caused by the drugs themselves and the harm caused by the fact that they are illegal in order to demonstrate precisely how legalisation would reduce it. Confusion around this is something that I come across regularly. Many people think (or perhaps assume) that things like HIV transmission, burglary to fund a habit, overdoses, poisoned supplies etc. etc. are just an inevitable result of people taking drugs. The truth is that all of these and more are consequences largely of its illegality and they could be hugely reduced (perhaps even in some cases eliminated) under a properly legalised and regulated framework.
It is certainly a thought provoking document, whichever side of the debate you are currently on and I will try and post a more detailed review once I have finished reading it.
You can download it yourself via this link. Please note that the link is to a PDF document.