Not very much. In 2015 in America, 50,000 people died from overdose of drugs (all drugs). In 2016, some 595,690 people have died from cancers.
If you want to be cold about it, the cumulative effect of cigarettes, fried food and unhealthy lifestyles kill more people, more effectively and far more pleasurably than any narcotic can.
The harm it can do to one person is not high. The taking of drugs is a social choice, just like how drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating unhealthy food or going to the gym is a social choice. They are all addictive. Amsterdam has decriminalised the consumption of certain classes of recreational drugs and instead of seeing crime rates increase, it has gone the other way. Partly because it is no longer profitable for the drug barons.
I think, if you want to pay good money to kill yourself – go for it.
Those who partake in drugs are not always those whom are poor. Especially in a place like Singapore. Take a look at the papers and you’ll observe many of them are actually well-to-do professionals, those whom can afford it and enjoy this secret and exciting lifestyle.
The real danger – is in the criminal networks that support the manufacture and logistics of narcotics. They are very rich, very powerful and the nature of their business requires them to be ruthless.
They also offer good career opportunities.
People become criminals partly because of what society moulds them to be. Some are born into broken families. Some do not have moral guidance when they grow up. Many are unable to secure an income from just employment.
The drug barons know this and will exploit this person’s weakness entirely. To me, the drug baron is no more than a bastard employer who takes advantage of an employee’s situation and gets him to do work that is extremely risky and not worth the money he makes.
To the drug mule, this is but a career choice. No more illogical than choosing to be an industrial diver or a career soldier, except that he doesn’t have the skills to be a mercenary soldier or a diver. (And that is why equipping people with skills so that they have the means to be gainfully employed is so important…but that’s another article)
Then there is also logistics and turf to defend. And the defence of these is quite likely going to be through violence and corruption. Paying the employees to commit these crimes is going to be cheap, as compared to the profits the bosses are making.
The ironic thing is, the better the policing of anti-narcotics is in a system… the more profitable it is for the chief. The street prices of the drugs are going to rocket, but the staff are not duly compensated for the risk.
The only way to end this madness is to kill their demand and supply.
In Singapore, recreational drug consumption is highly unpopular. It has a poor stigma and too many people are scared to death of its effect anyway, so that’s good.
And here, I come to the point of this article…
The other way to disable these criminal organisations, is to extinguish its supply of manpower – the drug mules. These are the couriers that are central to the success of the narco industry. Deprive them of their staff and it will be extremely difficult to operate.
For now, you still cannot download a packet of cannabis through the internet or have it delivered to you safely by drones. It is still necessary to have a courier deliver you your order.
I feel truly sorry for the young man whom was passed a sentence of death recently. Society did fail him, but not in the way that some alternative opinions say; we did not fail him by enforcing the law on him.
We failed him when he was a young boy. It could be his neighbours, could be parents of his young friends. Maybe it was one silent individual whom knew of his background, but kept silent. No one would want to go into criminal enterprise, if there were safer, less riskier alternatives. Perhaps he didn’t have the means to acquire these alternatives.
Perhaps it really is far easier to raise strong children than to fix a broken man.
Justice has since then delivered a difficult decision on Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali. It was a decision sought with the help of his defence lawyer, the state prosecutors and its decision was made through difficult judicial reasoning.
I will leave you with a final few words to think about whether or not a pardon should be passed on Ridzuan’s life.
Think about the many other potential new-hires to the narco organisations, what would inspire them? What would embolden them? What would make them more confident in signing up for a career in high-risk delivery?
Think about the expansion of these criminal networks and what kind of harm they could do to a society; the corruption, the illicit activities, the other crimes that it could lead to. Take a look at some of the countries around us and see how futile, how difficult it is to end this war on drugs.
We can perhaps learn something from our friends at PETA; when the buying ends, the killing will too.