What's the Morality Behind Drugs Policy?

Date: 10 December 2009

Venue: Leeds Civic Hall

Speakers: Dolan Cummings, Darryl Bickler & Graham Aitken

Leeds Salon welcomes Dolan Cummings (Institute of Ideas), Graham Aitken (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) and Darryl Bickler (Drugs Equality Alliance) to debate the morality of drugs.

The drugs debate has long been dominated by the question of whether drugs should be prohibited or legalised, and of what kind of regulation is likely to minimise harm. While advocates of prohibition warn of the dangers of drugs and suggest that legalisation would make it worse, pro-legalisers insist that drug use is inevitable, and that prohibition only makes it riskier. But neither side has much to say about whether drug use is morally desirable, and if not, why not? The ongoing debate about reclassifying cannabis, for example, hinges not on whether dope turn users into degenerate hippies and dropouts so much as its effects on their mental health. Is this a reasonable argument for greater restrictions, or should we be free to choose our own poison, whatever its ill effects?

If drugs could be made completely safe, would their use be all right? Is there any place for drugs in the good life? Are drugs a means to expand our horizons and experiences, or a harmless recreational choice? Or are they a pernicious influence, Should politicians use the law to send a moral message?


Just Say No to this ‘radical rethink’ on drugs, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, spiked, 12 March 2007

Drugs reclassification: smoke signals, by James Douglass, Free Society, Tuesday June 24, 2008

Great moments in the drug war Kulturkampf, by Nick Gillespie, Reason, May 30, 2008

Choosing life, by Dolan Cummings, Culture Wars, 12 June 2009

Britain’s drug debacle, by Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 3 November 2008

Psychiatrists and drug companies are thoroughly redefining normal behaviour, by Christopher Lane, Battles in Print, 25 September 2007

Doping the Masses: Exposing Britain's unholy alliance between alcohol prohibitionists and marijuana reformers, by Brendan O'Neill, Reason, December 1, 2009


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