Title: The Irish War on Drugs: The Seductive Folly of Prohibition (2008)
Author: Paul O’ Mahony
Chapter: 9 – The failure of Irish Prohibition
This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the drug problem in Ireland over the past thirty years. The main premise of the book is an argument that international and national law should be based on a realistic appraisal of human nature and that a scientific view of the human psyche explains both the value and irresistible attraction of mood-altering substances and the stubborn resistance of the youth to the prohibitionist message. In a nutshell, O’Mahony argues that a non-coercive harm reduction approach based on the right to use drugs could have major benefits.
O’Mahony opens the chapter by shortly discussing the consequences of the prohibition of drugs in Ireland and compares the prohibition laws with those in the United States. He argues that prohibition creates a wave of ‘inherent’ drug-related crimes that didn’t exist prior to prohibition, such as possession. However, in spite of the Irish ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric, the prosecution of those found in possession has been quite tentative, in comparison with the United States.
He presents an idea which resonates with a lot of people. O’Mahony states that the major problem, in Ireland, is the damage caused to the reputation of the law, rather than the harm done by criminalising individuals. He calls it a ‘mocking disregard’ for Irish law. It is ‘manifestly detrimental to the social fabric when prohibition laws drive a wedge between ordinary citizens and the police. It erodes the willing consent of the people to be being policed.’ O’Mahoney makes a well-informed point here. It’s basic human nature. For example, if you ban children in a school from eating chocolate, the children are more than likely to do it anyway because they enjoy it.
O’Mahony then introduces Nadelman’s costs of prohibition . Nadelman described a number of additional, costs of prohibition in a...