The Rolling Stones’ leader Mick Jagger knows a thing or two about drugs. His band has nearly been torn apart because of illicit substances, and their founding member Brian Jones famously suffered a drug-related death. Jagger has witnessed both the positives and the cruel heartache that drugs can cause, but, overall, he has concluded that legalising drugs would be one way of making the world a better place.
Jagger was busted famously after he and the rest of the band soon became the target of police chiefs looking for a big-name to arrest to make an example from. Rather than backing down and apologising at the time, Jagger took to the stand after The Rolling Stones’ 1967 drug bust and made a passionate, intelligent and morally sound speech in defence of the rights of individuals to do as they please. Whilst this arrest still makes entering America an administrative nightmare today, even after so many years have passed, this is a subject that he still firmly believes in.
Speaking with the late, legendary broadcaster Larry King in 2010, Jagger gave his thoughts about whether legalisation should be legal and left no stone unturned with his unequivocal answer: “The whole question of legalising drugs is fraught. Somebody asked me this the other day, and usually you try these things out in very small places. Like you’d trial a new product out in a small society or an island somewhere. In England, they always try out new mobile phones in the Isle of Man as they have a captive society,” he says with a wry chuckle.
“So I said, ‘You should try the legalisation of all drugs on the Isle Of Man and see what happens’. I don’t know what would happen,” Jagger said buoyantly to the late host. King then asks Jagger whether he thinks that legalisation will ever happen or if it will remain a pipedream, to which The Rolling Stones frontman retorted: “Human beings seem to have a propensity to want to take drugs in some form. For thousands of years, people have taken drugs, whether it is alcohol which was invented 5,000 years ago, and people have been using that.
“Marijuana all these kinds of things, tobacco, I don’t know how many thousands of years, but, a long time I’m sure. So all these drugs there seems to be a propensity from human beings to want to use them. I think you have to take that as read, y’now. Then what do you do when it affects so many people’s lives in not a good way.
“Then also, you get a lot of violence on both ends of the scale. You get violence in countries producing like we have in Mexico now. Then you have violence at the end with people trying to obtain drugs. That’s the part that speaks to some sort of legalisation as you would hope it would end the violence on both ends of the supply line,” Jagger novelly said.
King then turns the discussion onto Jagger’s past relationship with drugs and asks whether it ever affected his performance, “Probably,” the singer says with a guilty giggle. “I don’t personally like performing whilst taking drugs. I always think it’s better to not be taking drugs, drinking or anything, but that’s not saying I’ve never done it because I have. I learnt after a while, and it didn’t take me that long to realise it wasn’t a good thing. Taking drugs on a recreational level is one thing, but taking them while you’re working on stage isn’t a great idea,” Jagger added.
Jagger’s strong opinion on the legalisation of drugs doesn’t come from any hippy-ish values about drugs bolstering the mind but, instead, comes from a well-researched and rational place. The drugs market is one of the biggest killers, and the people dying are some of the poorest that find themselves in this deadly trap. It’s evident that the war on drugs has failed, so why continue allowing people to needlessly lose their lives through it. That’s without considering the taxation that could come from the markets, which could help society become a safer and better place meaning people won’t need to turn to crime.