The drugs debate has long been dominated by the question of whether drugs should be prohibited or legalised, and of what kind of regulation is likely to minimise harm. While advocates of prohibition warn of the dangers of drugs and suggest that legalisation would make it worse, pro-legalisers insist that drug use is inevitable, and that prohibition only makes it riskier. But neither side has much to say about whether drug use is morally desirable, and if not, why not? The ongoing debate about reclassifying cannabis, for example, hinges not on whether dope turn users into degenerate hippies and dropouts so much as its effects on their mental health. Is this a reasonable argument for greater restrictions, or should we be free to choose our own poison, whatever its ill effects?
If drugs could be made completely safe, would their use be all right? Is there any place for drugs in the good life? Are drugs a means to expand our horizons and experiences, or a harmless recreational choice? Or are they a pernicious influence? Should politicians use the law to send a moral message?