If Drugs Were Legal

If Drugs Were Legal

Ratings: 7.36/10 from 44 users.

If Drugs Were LegalEvidence from Switzerland suggests that prescribing heroin can reduce crime and increase levels of employment among addicts. While still illegal in the UK, cannabis was downgraded to a category C drug in January 2004. Would drug legalisation really reduce crime overall, and would it make drug use any safer?

Based on rigorous research and interviews with experts, the programme hears the arguments for leaving the most dangerous drug of all - crack cocaine - illegal, and examines how a legal and regulated system of drugs would work.

It is 2015. In the film, an ex-drugs policeman investigates two girls' deaths. The government, persuaded by the vast economic cost of prohibition, has decided to legalise drugs. The UK, along with a coalition of progressive countries from Europe, Canada and Australia, has opted out of the UN treaties which control drugs. Much of the trade from possession to use, and production to supply, has been legalised.

The drama opens with the collapse and subsequent deaths of two girls in a club which is licensed to sell drugs. In the scenario, most drugs are readily available, with government health warnings and lists of ingredients, from various outlets. Drugs of addiction, like heroin, are free but only available on prescription from Swiss-styled heroin clinics.

Cocaine is still illegal. The whole trade is regulated by a new agency, called Ofdrug. The film follows the investigation into the two girls' deaths by an Ofdrug agent who works closely with an ex-drugs policeman. Experts such as former chief constable Francis Wilkinson argued the case for pro-legalisation, while David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance was one of the voices arguing against.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter JC
8 years ago

i am looking at them unedunamacated comens and knoe ther are sum dum cuns who dont unerstan drug/ if goverment say good to me tak drug maybe them wont take me baby agen

9 years ago

I find it amusing that the last name of the director of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation is "Kushlick."

Adam Young
9 years ago

at the head of every major organization whether it's the DEA, or pharmaceutical companies or coca cola, you have people only concerned about profit. the FTA allows genetically modified food, some of which has been proven to damage us while shutting down organic growers markets with swat teams. your more valuable to them sick than you are well. do you really think doctors or the medical industry want to see everybody suddenly get well ? they want us all on drugs, just not somebody else's.

10 years ago

Lol. "Would drug legalisation really reduce crime overall..." Well derrr.
Make something legal, of course you will reduce crime... it's not illegal anymore, so it's not a crime.
The question should be, 'would drug legalisation really reduce the amount of addicts that F*k up their lives because of it." Personally, I've been faced with the choice of 'heavy' drugs multiple times in my life, (legal and illegal) I always had the common sense to say no, BECAUSE of the possibility/probability of it f*king my life up. Jail won't stop the problem IMO, only educate the convicted on how to do it 'better' next time. You have to treat the cause, not the symptoms, otherwise you get nowhere.

ashley valencia
10 years ago

how could u say tht murder or crimes would decrease? do u not knw tht a lot of ppl only commit crimes while on drugs? im always around drug users and when they are fukkd up they dont giv a fuk wut happens or sometimes dont even remember wut they do. so of course they go off n steal or pick fights cuz their thoughts are impaired. so im sure the crime wouldnt go down. somethin to think about.

Rodrigues H
11 years ago

Let´s end up with laws... if it´s not forbidden, there will be no longer criminals. Robbery, murder will decrease by sympathy... don´t you think?!

11 years ago

If people self medicate, Billion dollar companies would fall. Those companies have alot more say than any of us ever will. That is the state of politics, Who can contribute more to my campaign. It is no longer about what is just and right. And it looks like there is no end in sight

11 years ago

Legalization will allow ANYONE to grow their own, which means there will be NO criminals selling it. Anyone with a brain can figure this out on their own. When it is illegal or "decriminalized", criminals will still be involved because it has massive value. Once everything is legal, the value drops dramatically, which means everyone can grow it in their backyards if they so choose. Wakeup people, these things will be used whether they are illegal or not. So why waste money putting people in jail over things they will use anyways. So dumb.

11 years ago

itz fun 2 wtch! lol.......

11 years ago

How about legalizing just weed and shrooms? In my opinion it will act as a catalyst for revolution and break down the profit based capitalist system.

Dujo Perdi?
11 years ago

I swear his is one of the more stupider "documentaries" i watched.
First of all it is biased. The majority of the film consists of "experts" that agree drugs should be legalized, and point out "benefits", while the minority is against it. Even the pathetic attempt of a portrait of this "new world" is biased. The woman in the end is deliberately portrayed as a heartless manipulator stopping nothing short of a murder to accomplish her goals.
Let's start with the concept: What if drugs were legal? Pharmaceutical companies would make a bundle, crime rates wouldn't go down, they would in fact go up, number of drug related diseases and disorders would skyrocket, and the dominant argument pro-legislation is economic benefit? I mean WTF? As this garbage points out the government can't regulate drug use or consumption, but what makes them so sure they can regulate drug production, sales and consumption? This is impossible because it would require massive resources, and the drug use itself would render users incapable of nothing more than basic activities. On a global scale the damage would be far greater from an economic point of view (notice that I'm pointing out to the economy, which is the main argument in the pro-legislation) rendering worker efficiency down by at least 10%. From a health point of view the average life span would be reduced by at least 10 years, resources used to treat drug related conditions greatly outweigh the resources gained by drug trade taxation. I admit this is a great problem in today's world, but the causes run to the system itself. The fast-paced capitalist lifestyle took it's tole on our mental health and we seek relaxation in drugs. THIS IS WRONG AND ST*PID!! Drugs will just create more problems we can't control, and we will end up in deep s***. And don't trust "Steve", what he says is total bull****. You can't have a normal life if you take drugs, sooner or later everything is going to fall apart.

11 years ago

arguments pro legalisation are so much more intelligent than those against

11 years ago

The greatest threat from drugs is the fact that they are illegal. Let doctors handle this. Keep your indoctrinated political opinions and your entrenched judgmentalism to yourself.

11 years ago

Heroin has no ill side effects only physical dependance. Doctors can give exact doses so you have no more overdose deaths thus, no probs in the world from heroin use/abuse.

11 years ago

As much as i hate to admit it...I foresee them legalizing drugs. So many walking around like controlled zombies anyway.

11 years ago

blah blah blah like it matters people who want it will get it either way

11 years ago

I have mixed feelings about legalizing drugs. I watched the documentary and both sides have their points. Alcohol is a sort of drug that causes a lot of pain but you can get it at the local store. Some of the drugs should be legalized, such as marijuana. But, drugs like cocaine should, if legalized should be watched very carefully. I am not sure that the federal government should watch it. I think that state government should.

12 years ago

it's drama and incomplete. rubbish I say. it's time for these people to speak to someone how actually has some experience with drug.

12 years ago

I wish they would at least legalize cannabis already. I could use a smoke right now. :P

12 years ago

@ hate machine:
Hemp has a multitude of uses beyond cotton. I'm not going to detail them here cause it's 2:30am and i'm going to bed, but for a short list, cloth/textiles, paper, protein source (seeds), anything you need high quality low viscosity oil for, health beneficial omega oils, etc . But hemp outstrips cotton on many, many levels. It doesn't require herbacides or pesticides or genetic modification like cotton does, it is drout tollerant and will grow in the poorest of soils (less need for chemical fertilizers). There's a reason that they call it "weed". It can grow much more densely than cotton, yealding greater produce. There must be a reason the there were never any "cotton for victory" films made.
If one were able to grow it without licensure there would be an enormous demand for it, alone for paper production. You will really appreciate this if you have ever worked in a law firm or hospital, who use absolutely repulsive amounts of paper. Imagine the reduction in logging and deforestation.

And @....whoever said that it was good to have all views and let people decide (sorry, don't want to scan back through the extreme amount of banter and pissing matches). I think that many, if not most, people (americans, anyways...) aren't smart enough to decide for themselves. Take our current geopolitical situation, start with G.W. Bush up to today. Do you really think that we would be in the same situation if there weren't FOX news spouting such extreme disinformation? We make our decisions based on our level of education (formal or from experience) so if people are getting their "education" from places like FOX, where does that leave us? Wasting an incredible amount of time and resources fighting ignorance.....while trillions of dollars are wasted, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost and millions of lives are severely traumatized. It's like saying, I can eat poisen with my vegetables because my body will know which one is good for me.
Oh ya, about the doc...... wasn't able to even watch it. It says, "temporarily unavailable". I think I tried to watch it a few months ago with the same result. Considering the responses from the viewers (except the real mccoy) I guess this'll be the last attempt.

12 years ago

One of the best Docs on drugs I've watched, I saw it a couple of years ago on youtube then downloaded the whole thing and burned it to disc... The only thing I don't agree with is why the Government should regulate it... They have proven to be incompetent with even pharmaceutical drugs, they are the ones who launder money for recreational drugs in the first place!

12 years ago

I do not have an issue with the decriminalization of any "drug" I do not want to see it in the hands/controlled of the government... I would like to see any product available to anyone who would like to try it and I do not care about the human cost. Fuck it, if you are so week of mind and have no self control then f--k you, kill your self. We have to stop trying to save everyone the human race would be better off without you.

I have seen three of my friends die dew to drug use and I tell you the rest of the world is better off that they didn't reproduce.

There was a time when the week and stupid did not survive. Why is all human life considered sacred? Don't get me wrong I an all for the protecting of anyone from tyranny and oppression. I just don't see the point of one person telling another person what they should do, act like or believe.

If you take away emotion and the act itself does not harm anyone but the user than ultimately it is a fundamental human right that we be allowed do what we want to are ourselves.

If human race can get to a point where everyone has the same opportunity's and that all have the option of participation within a society that is guided by the free assembly of people for the betterment of all and not dictated too by a governing body or religious dogma, Then we will all be FREE!

12 years ago

Why hasn't the most important argument for decriminalization and legalization been brought up? The unequivocal success in Portugal.

Complete legalization reduces usage. Reduces overdoses. Reduces transmitted diseases. Increases numbers of treatments. Most importantly of all, it removes control of drugs from criminals who do not care about the users. It removes the element that pushes harder drugs - the "gateway effect."

These are all Facts supported by not only the findings of the Cato report on Portugal's decriminalization but by the removal of prohibitions all over the world.

Legalization != Free Market Sales

While Cannabis is obviously safe enough to sell in coffee shops, harder drugs should be regulated through state run pharmacies. Proper drug education needs to be in place to teach not only children but adults about the effects of drugs. Most people believe anti-drug propaganda in all its shapes - swallowing it whole, never questioning. When people find out that what they've been told their whole lives are not only half-truths - but outright lies - they start questioning the other 'truths' about drugs.

So hard drugs should be sold only in proper pharmacy-like shops where actual drug education is in place. Drugs should come with a pamphlet describing all the effects (both the side effects and the effects people take the drug to experience) as well as having information regarding treatment etc.

Laws should be in place so that hard drugs generate revenue for the state in the form of taxes but other than that, drugs should not be able to be sold for profit. With profit you create an incentive to maximize. To cut corners.

Another benefit of complete legalization are of course the clinics - similar to those in Amsterdam - where people can take their drugs to check if they're alright to take.

The scare tactics used in this "documentary" are completely ridiculous and unfounded.

12 years ago

BTW there are more deaths due to legal prescription drugs, which are heavily controled, than by uncontroled illegal drugs. If that isn't a reason to look deeper into the whole system, then you've already lost the "war".

12 years ago

legalization is the only way to control drugs. This simple arithmetic. I contend that drugs are kept illegal because there is too much money to be made when drugs are illegal. In the end the monetary system is the problem... so fear not, drugs will remain illegal and crime and terrorism will continue unabated.

12 years ago

Very awesome :)

XTC Legal = love 4 the world.

Put everything in my own body that i want , 1 rule that i know and understand the full effects of what it does :)

13 years ago

brutal doc..could only watch ten minutes of it..

13 years ago

And how many die from alcohol poisoning every year? I hardly think one death would shackle the legal narcotic market.
By legalizing you prevent it from becoming something you have to become a criminal to get. The criminal environment a narcotic consumer would have to engage in may cause a otherwise lawful citizen to be exposed and tempted to do other crimes as he is drawn into that environment. There is even tonnes of proof that legalization in fact reduces narcotic consume, and does not increase it.

13 years ago

Wow that pretty much sums up how i feel about it well said Epicurean_Logic

13 years ago

Hate_machine wins!

13 years ago

As well as creating black markets it opens up the casual user to a facet of life that they could well do without; that is criminals, guns, non-legislated impure/dangerous stuff etc.

I also believe that the gateway (to harder drugs) theory is in part due to the fact that you have to go down a dark alley, back street or potentially unsafe environment to get a fix!

Quite contreversially i also think that hard drugs should be legislated for the simple reason that desperate people do desperate things when they need a fix, and it seems quite clear to me that if you can buy you're fix legally at a store for a moderate price (say 3 or 4 dollars) you have no need to resort to crime, prostetution or some other socially repugnant activity.

Finally, the criminalization of drug users has an adverse effect on the individual involved who may in all other respects be law abiding, hard working and intelligent citizens.

i have more to say on the subject but await the barrage of dissenting responses before i do so.

13 years ago

Prohibition creates black markets ....

If you need proof look at Americas alcohol prohibition in the 1930's it was the birth of the gangster culture.

13 years ago

i meant shouldn't be illegal

13 years ago

drugs should be illegal... all drugs for everybody, take the stigma out of it and let people do as they please.

Charles B.
13 years ago

Ok. I'll click on all the Jesus banner adds just for fun.

13 years ago

@hugh, couldnt have said it all better myself.

13 years ago

I came to watch the documentary but never got around to it after reading the comments from New Zealander and hate machine, lol. Being Australian (close to NZ) and having lived in Canada (close to US) for 16 years I have an idea where both of you are coming from.

I have to say this though, the media in the US is downright confusing and scary. After watching the FOX news for the first time while in Florida I felt like my head had been opened up and crapped in. I don't know how you guys keep it straight which end you're wiping. I would imagine the more educated American will be the one who doesn't own a T.V.

@hate_machine: the reason you don't see much of an industry for hemp is because it's just re-emerging and has to battle the bias negativity of marijuana. Cotton has had a good 80+ years of industry to improve and perfect itself. That doesn't give cotton an edge though, in the long run it will come down to which crop is more versatile and can generate a larger profit per acre. I'll keep my cotton undies too, but i'll gladly trade my $100 denim jeans for hemp jeans. I owned a pair of those in Australia and they were softer than the denim and never wore a hole in them despite me putting them through hell.

@MetsuShoryuken, what you're saying depends entirely on location. Drugs are hard to legalize for 3 reasons: 1) It hurts certain large corporations profits as you said 2) It's much more valuable illegal. In BC, marijuana takes in over 7 billion annually from small houshold grow ops. That's more than the tourism, lumber and fishing industries combined! 3) For the above two reasons, the public is kept in fear of it so they don't push for legalization. As for your figures, well they depend on strain and again, location (1800/lb here). :)

13 years ago


of course people would still go to work and pay taxes people that do weed and other soft drugs still go to work and pay taxes especially since their work would pay 4 more drugs, u can still buy "years supply happiness for 100€" only difference is if u get caught ull et in trouble. Making them legal would just make the drugs safer and reduce crime

13 years ago

Drugs wont be legalised because happiness and all other feelings are chemicals. If one could just buy years supply happiness for 100€, who would go to work and pay taxes?

13 years ago

BBC really let themselves down here.
A poor doco. But all information is good information ;)
Legalization will only work on a few drugs.
Decriminalization is the best move that can be made to save billions of dollars and stop making criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens.
Ron Pauls debate with that crazy christian Baldwin actor is a classic drug debate. Nice to hear someone up there actually seeing things for what they are and not afraid to speak up!
I think they should do a trial.
Legalize the following to over 18 year olds for 12 months and observe the results;
All natural psychedelic plants (Mushrooms, DMT etc)

Compare the results versus current legal drugs and see how they compare ;)

You see the world so differently after a real trip.

13 years ago

Drugs won't be legalized or decriminalized because of pot. You can't sell someone something that they can grow in their backyard. It'd take money from the pockets of to many industries with strong lobbies. Cotton, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, paper, fuel(maybe), law enforcement. Lot's of people will spend lots of money to keep this illegal.

@Hatemachine...High grade pot sells for 4000-6000 dollars a pound wholesale. Can get nearly a pound off each plant outdoors with lots of water and good light. You would be able to produce the seeds yourself. A male and female plant secluded will produce hundreds of them. Can cotton really compete with that? I have no knowledge of farming, really...but can you seriously net 4 grand(or even close) off a square yard growing cotton?

13 years ago

I am pro decriminalization as well.
Legalization for certain drugs may work but not like in this film.

I have watched hours of TV interviews and debates of this man. I think NEW ZEALANDER has a better understanding than HaTe_MaChInE.
"Ron Paul seeks peace, love and a country that the rest of the world wishes to be part of" He does say this on a number of interviews he does, I think Bill Maher is one of them.

I love when these sites become a battle of opinion. Especially when it is an American view vs outsider view. The media and opinion is so different once you are outside the states and this is hard to understand unless you open your mind and get out there.

Your comments are not really negative NEW ZEALANDER, unless they speak against what the reader believes in.

“Your comments… are laughable, uneducated and sad." SOMETIMES
“Keep up the hate brother and see where it leads.” VERY TRUE
“This is a terrible doco/film for BBC.” I AGREE
” As soon as control is in the hands of a higher power, it is abused.” HISTORY HAS PROVED THIS
“I feel anyone who has not educated themselves by safely experimenting with drugs should not have any opinion on the matter.” MAYBE NOT 'NO OPINION' BUT THEY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND ENOUGH TO BE IN A POSITION TO MAKE FAIR LOGICAL JUDGEMENT

But hey, these are just opinions aye haha

Right, time for a relaxing joint and a beer in the sun

13 years ago

@NEW ZEALANDER - I think you are confused.

Ron Paul voted yes for Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in Afghanistan. It is basically a declaration of war on any terrorist. I believe that not just the terrorist but any country supporting a terrorist should be a target. 90% agree

He is not for free markets. He is a supporter of Austrian School of economic thought. Which is basically Laissez-faire. I agree but i think there should be at least moderate regulation. People should be punished for lieing cheating and stealing... no room for that in a modern market. 90% agree.

Ron Paul seeks peace, love and a country that the rest of the world wishes to be part of. That is 100% your opinion. Not even sure why you would add this.

While Mr. Paul speaks out against the "federal" drug war he has stated many many times that it should be a state problem. Once again I think there should be some federal laws against drug use. I think age limits would be nice. No one under 21 can buy heroin for example. 90% agree.

I don't think I have every had anyone say I had very right wing comments. I bet you just think that everyone that sees your inanity is far right wing.

As for negative comments... sounds like a little of the kettle and pot action.

"Your comments... are laughable, uneducated and sad.
"but I guess that is like most people from your background "
"Keep up the hate brother and see where it leads."
"This is a terrible doco/film for BBC."
" As soon as control is in the hands of a higher power, it is abused."
"I feel anyone who has not educated themselves by safely experimenting with drugs should not have any opinion on the matter."

The sad part is that your negative comments turn out to be the most interesting part of your post after finally sorting out the bantam of information hidden in the multitudes of improvidence.

And as far as you being "the open minded, educated, non hippy"... well at least you didn't misspell open minded and educated.

13 years ago

i wonder if the BBC really thinks it needs to dramatise such issues to make them marketable. or if it is, as said by others above, disinfo or leftist gatekeeping.
cause this drama crap is definetly not done with a primary interest of promoting a clear and concise analysis of the facts.
i personally dont see whats to debate about on this issue. its simple f--king mathematics.
more people die every year from legal drugs than from all the blackmarket, backyard produced drugs combined.WTF!
prohibition is obviously a flawed concept.

im no biological engineer, or farmer. but i reckon if the same investment was made in hemp, as has been made in cotton, it'd be a kick ass crop.
it certainly was for thousands of years.
hemp is so much more resiliant to grow, and versatile in use than cotton. its a wonderful species.

13 years ago

@Chief Super Eagle

Not to blow up your complete bubble, but there is not a single drug legal in Holland. Some softdrugs are tollarated, but they are not legal! So please do your research the statements you make.


13 years ago

"I know of Ron Paul and actually really like and agree with 90% of what he supports."
Wow, your comments are mis-informed and appear very right wing.
Ron Paul, while in the Republican party and as a liberial, was the only one actively trying to convince the nation to return the troops back home as the wars are never ending wars which are due to terrible foreign policies.
Ron Paul actively speaks out against americas war on drugs and seeks decriminilization and an end to the war on drugs.
Ron Paul is against Corporatism and wishes for a true free market.
Ron Paul seeks peace, love and a country that the rest of the world wishes to be part of.
These are Ron Pauls main points - most of the 90% you agree with yeah?
Your comments, especially justifying hate are laughable, uneducated and sad.
Am I afraid of the system? HELL YES! It is failing! It is time for change! Am I paranoid? Not at all, just educated.
This comment page has going off track, I will leave you to your hating - I will not open myself to your negativeness.
Peace from the open minded, educated, non hippy.

13 years ago

i think i have watched every one of the docs posted here...I'm an addict (for documentaries)
this one was kinda campy. but it's a good point. all drugs should be regulated in some way. for medical reasons and/or recreational. depending on witch drug your talking about.
i can't imagine what the government would do about a drug like crack. as for "commercialization" in the US there the are regulations on how and where advertisements can be seen about Tabasco and alcohol.

13 years ago

Hey Vlatko, What has happened to your website. It looks like it is on windows safe mode or something. I hope it comes back to normal soon, it truly is one of the best sites on the net :)

13 years ago

those flaws are all due to the law and past laws on hemp.

there are large hemp cultivating machines and actually there has been since the 1800's. every other country except USA is able to grow hemp and it is lucrative. although of course not as much as cotton, but for me the issue isnt monetary its moral.

13 years ago

@ Epicurus - Hemp is not technically banned... you just have to apply for a license to grow it. With the introduction of GM cotton the impact is way less then 20 years ago. There is no industry for hemp. There are no local buyers for hemp. There is no equivalent Cotton Research & Promotion Program or Cotton Board. There is no hemp support from USDA. There is no major research into hemp pathogens or parasites. I have never seen hemp cultivating equipment at trade shows. Can a supply of consistent seeds even be guaranteed even if I were to get harvesting equipment? Is there accurate info on water needs? My water rights allow for only so many acre feet of water every year. Unless I know exactly how much water the crop needs and when it needs it, it will not survive here.

There isn't 2 billion dollars worth of hemp subsidies.

Hemp is a huge risk for a small farmer. To be perfectly honest, I see no money in it. At least not in the near future.

Even if hemp is completely unregulated, legalized to smoke, and I'm able to grow high THC hemp, I don't really see a shift in the industry here.