Résumé: Earp and colleagues (2021) make a strong case for the complete decriminalization and even the legalization of recreational drug use based on the negative impact of the “War on drugs” on racialized persons. Several other negative implications of this War are also identified such as the growth of criminal groups and the collateral impact on women’s health and wellbeing. We agree with the authors’ clear and compelling stance. The authors desire to remain neutral regarding the positive and negative contributions of recreational drug use to wellbeing, but they nevertheless state that, generally speaking, “responsible drug policy is about more than just drugs: it is about the flourishing of entire communities” (12). Now, this statement calls for clarification about the role of recreational drugs in human flourishing. Are recreational drugs inherently negative such as commonly depicted and reflected in prohibitive policies or do they represent acceptable and even praiseworthy practices? In this short commentary, we further explain the negative association between human flourishing and recreational drug use, which has emerged from early 20th century anti-drug movements in North America. Then, we show and discuss how this rather negative appreciation is strongly biased toward drugs acceptable to the white majority and by market forces as exemplified by the interwoven history of racism, colonialism and capitalism in the USA but also in other countries like Canada. This critical analysis leaves, accordingly, a space to move away from the highly negative image of drugs to a more neutral, liberal, and open-ended stance about what contributions if any drugs make on human flourishing. In this respect, the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada stands as an interesting example showing the need for social support to promote human flourishing.


Rochette Marianne, Ewusi-Boisvert Esthelle, Racine Eric. Legalization of Drugs and Human Flourishing, The American Journal of Bioethics, 2021; 21:4, 23-26, https://doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2021.1891340.