History, not harm, dictates why some drugs are legal and others aren’t

Legal status isn’t based on risk or harm
The Conversation (UK)
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Drug-related offences take up a lot of the resources within Australia’s criminal justice system. In 2016–17 law enforcement made 113,533 illicit drug seizures and 154,650 drug-related arrests. Harm-reduction advocates are calling for the legalisation of some drugs, and the removal of criminal penalties on others. And there’s public support for both. But how did some drugs become illegal in the first place? And what drives our current drug laws? Australia, like the rest of the world, has had a patchy approach to criminalising substances, driven mostly by a desire to maintain international relations – particularly with the United States – rather than by concern for the public’s health or welfare.