When Public Panic Prevails: The Similarity between the Treatment of Soft Drugs and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The paper takes a strong stance against paternalistic laws, especially the responses by various governments to the COVID-19 pandemic. It ties together pandemic measures to drug policy, under the general umbrella of paternalistic law.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis illustrates the great potential of coercive public health powers to infringe on civil liberties and the fragility of human rights when faced with danger to health. The paper advances the case for demonstrating greater respect for peoples’ autonomy to take health risks before establishing coercive measures, which curtail civil liberties to prevent or reduce the spread of infectious diseases. It likens the war on drugs to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, given the public panic that accompanies them and the paternalistic considerations that underlie them, and claims that people should not be deprived of making their own choices in both cases.