Writer Stephen Rolles first challenges several prohibition axioms including the belief that ending prohibition would increase drug use. He argues that the harms of prohibition are not only greater than the harms of drugs, but increase those harms.
He then describes the circular logic of the War on Drugs thus:
The criminalisation of drugs has, historically, been presented as an emergency response to an imminent threat rather than an evidence based health or social policy intervention.11 Prohibitionist rhetoric frames drugs as menacing not just to health but also to our children, national security, and the moral fabric of society itself. The prohibition model is positioned as a response to such threats,12 13 and is often misappropriated into populist political narratives such as "crackdowns" on crime, immigration, and, more recently, the war on terror.Later in the article, Rolles presents the five basic models for regulating drug availability proposed by the long-established UK lobby group Transform:
This conceptualisation has resulted in the punitive enforcement of drug policy becoming largely immune from meaningful scrutiny.14 A curiously self justifying logic now prevails in which the harms of prohibition—such as drug related organised crime and deaths from contaminated heroin—are conflated with the harms of drug use. These policy related harms then bolster the apparent menace of drugs and justify the continuation, or intensification, of prohibition.
- Medical prescription model or supervised venues—For highest risk drugs (injected drugs including heroin and more potent stimulants such as methamphetamine) and problematic users
- Specialist pharmacist retail model—combined with named/licensed user access and rationing of volume of sales for moderate risk drugs such as amphetamine, powder cocaine, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)
- Licensed retailing—including tiers of regulation appropriate to product risk and local needs. Used for lower risk drugs and preparations such as lower strength stimulant based drinks
- Licensed premises for sale and consumption—similar to licensed alcohol venues and Dutch cannabis "coffee shops," potentially also for smoking opium or poppy tea
- Unlicensed sales—minimal regulation for the least risky products, such as caffeine drinks and coca tea.