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{We’ve had a lot of guest content lately, so here’s another ‘Wildcard Wednesday’ for the week, albeit on Saturday.  And so we introduce to you Rens van der Windt, who works for}

Rescue the UK economy with prostitution and drugs!

There are two multi-billion markets that the government in the UK isn’t taking advantage of: prostitution and drugs. Politicians need to put their prejudices aside and solve the economic misery by unleashing this enormous stream of income. Now these industries lurk in the shadow of Britain, but they should be sent into broad daylight! Bringing an end to the war on prostitution and drugs would make a lot of moral and fiscal sense.


At the Transform Drug Policy Foundation they look at legalization as a win-win situation as the government would save the huge sums spent prosecuting prostitution and drugs, but also raise money by claiming tax on these. They think that prohibition itself is the main cause of drug-related harm. Humane regulation and government control is the answer. Currently there is no code and money is the only arbiter on the black market. Government regulated watchdogs can insure that supplies are clean but now, on the black market, customers can receive very nasty surprises when they purchase their drugs.


A similar view is shared by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP). In Britain prostitution is technically legal but it is practically impossible to carry out lawfully because of other rules. For instance, if more than two women work in one property the owner of the property can be charged with brothel keeping. Women that are working on the streets can also be charged with soliciting and loitering. The ECP thinks that if prostitution was decriminalized a fortune would be saved on imprisonments, prosecutions, investigations and surveillances.  If there are watchdogs they can gather for the protection of prostitutes, they can work in a much safer and healthier environment. They would feel much safer to report attacks on them as they would no longer have to fear the retributions. There is no good explanation for wasting heaps of public money on criminalising sex workers.

How much can the Treasury earn?

The drug market is worth about £5.3 billion. The government spends about £3.55 billion on reactive drug-related offences and £1.1 billion per year on drug enforcement and treatment.

Because there are not many drug dealers or pimps that fill in their quarterly earnings reports it is quite difficult to put a figure on how much this industry is worth. However, in 2007 a very rough estimation was given by the Home Office. There is a market behind the six most commenly used illegal drugs (heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy) of between £4bn and £6.6bn. (eurusd: $6.34bn to $10.46) This figure is the equivalent of about 41% of the alcohol market in Britain. Similarly, prostitution is valued as a £1bn industry and this is according to a further report conducted by the Home Office in 2008.

Every day, dealers and pimps do thousands of untaxed transactions. The amount of tax revenues from commercial sex and drugs is huge. According to CLEAR, a group pushing for reforms of cannabis laws in Britain, £1.4bn can be earned every year from marijuana alone if  consumers pay £1 in tax per gram. Apart from VAT, newly formed firms need to pay corporation tax. Legalization of the two industries would cause an enormous boom in jobs. Which in return will create a sizeable increase in income taxes.

How much does the Treasury spend?

Enforcing strict anti-narcotics laws and prohibition is the government’s main approach to the drug trade.The taxpayer in Britain is billed for £3.55bn on reactive drug-related offences. This is not even the only cost to the taxpayer, as  £1.1bn per year year is spent on the UK’s strict drug enforcement and treatment. Decriminalisation would relieve the Government from a number of costs, such as detaining drug offenders, policing and law enforcing. Also policemen will have a lot more time to focus on other matters.

The drug market is worth about £5.3 billion. The government spends about £3.55 billion on reactive drug-related offences and £1.1 billion per year on drug enforcement and treatment.

Austerity measures

In the meantime, the government claims there is no money and so costs must be cut. Britain tries to reduce the budget deficit, by adopting austerity measures. Billions of pounds less will be spent on vital public services. Advisors of the Department of Health, Home Office and Ministry of Defence state that alcohol is more harmful to society than ecstasy but using the former is legal and the latter is not. Prostitution and drugs have existed for a long time and people will continue to buy and sell wares and services in these markets anyway. It is better to make a profit out of it as adults should have the own right to use (or abuse) their bodies as they wish.

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