Friday, 10 June 2005

Drug bust in Bali

Recently a young Australian woman (Schapelle Corby) entered Bali with marijuana in her luggage and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. She said it was planted there without her knowledge. Maybe, maybe not. Whether she's innocent or guilty isn't really the point as far as I'm concerned. Consider instead:

  • Even if her story isn't true, it could have been. Would you want to get 20 years in an Indonesian jail because someone planted stuff in your luggage?
  • A 20-year jail sentence is way over the top for an amateurish attempt to smuggle marijuana (and other drug smugglers have got death sentences!). I'm not a marijuana user, but as far as I know the stuff's no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

Seems to me it's quite rational to avoid taking holidays in places like Indonesia because of this kind of story. Sure, it probably won't happen to you; but if it does happen to you, you'll regret it powerfully.

Speaking as a libertarian, I don't believe that buying, selling, or using drugs should be illegal in any case. It's your life: what you do with it should be up to you. It should be illegal to force people to take addictive drugs, and it should be illegal to give them to children. That's all.

As The Economist has repeatedly pointed out, criminalizing the drugs trade has been a disaster, just as criminalizing alcohol was a disaster when it was tried in the USA. It just becomes a tremendous boost for organized crime.

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