Thursday, 8 March 2012

The War on Drugs - Part 1

I had a little flurry of tweets from several people totally opposed to my position of zero policy on drugs, and felt the need to do some research, in order to let others come in on the debate about strategy and policy. I suspect we would ALL like to see killer drugs eradicated (apart from the dealers) so it will just be a question of how we can achieve that.

I came into politics because of my concern over increasing drug use and therefore I'm not writing this on a position of proving I am right about anything I have already written. If the research and ensuing policy proved me wrong, I would be just as delighted. All I want is for us to at least be winning the war on drugs, whatever that takes.

I remember vividly the horror of the Ipswich street worker murders and the fact that we were told it was impossible to get prostitution off our streets. Well we proved them wrong with our 5 year strategy and although this long established industry has obviously not gone away, we have at least helped many girls get their life back and helped the residents of London road to have their roads free of street workers and pimps.This was done using partnership working to help them abstain from drugs, get away from the men who were pressurising them and find suitable alternative environments in which to start a new life.

And so the negative statement 'we will never get rid of drugs' just doesn't wash with me. Yes we can win the battles, but it will be a slow, arduous multi-faceted, multi-partnered approach and lessons must be learnt and adopted from best practice around the world.

I  intend to be open, honest and look for evidence that does not support my approach as well as those that do so that I give a balanced view. I invite comments from professionals in the know and people that have lived with a drug problem.

I have never taken illegal drugs but I know how hard it was to give up smoking a few years ago (apparently very comparable with heroin) so I do understand the torture involved in an addiction. I therefore come from the premise that help is needed as well as punishment for those who commit illegal acts.

I will start with a statistic that was confirmed to me at our working group meeting this week. That children whose parents take drugs are 8 times more likely to embark on this journey themselves. This alone suggests that we owe it to them to try and work on abstinence of drugs (not merely harm reduction, which was the strategy under Labour).  Many of the last govts policies were based on the premise that 'oh well, we'll never stop it so let's just educate them and tell them about the harm in the hope that we can reduce it, while they do it'.

This is clearly wrong because at best, it sends out mixed messages and, at worst, appears to condone it. Yes, we should educate but our policies must now be with abstinence in mind or the next generation will bring us even more victims, addicts, destroyed families and huge costs.All those that now find it so difficult to get off the nastier drugs must surely wish they never started it so lets make sure that going forward this regret is not felt by even more of our young people.

Would I have started smoking had I been told the dangers way back in the 70's? Of course not. Nor would a website telling me that if I am going to smoke then at least follow the harm reduction rules! That would also have been a green light to my peers and I.

So my first point is We must stop sending out messages that taking drugs is acceptable.

Some are comparing taking drugs, like cannabis, with drinking. I am not accepting this argument here for various reasons;
a) 2 wrongs don't make a right
b) Alcohol is legal and making it illegal will never happen.
c) Wine is a natural substance that is good for you in small measures. One spliff is not good for you, even if you believe it's not bad for you (to be debated later date)
d) Alcohol dependancy is an illness but other than making drinking illegal also, it has no relevance to the war on drugs which is a stand alone issue and requires a different strategy.


The conclusion in 'The Phoney War On Drugs by Kathy Gyngell, an author and researcher suggests that we must;

Reduce the supply of Drugs
Reduce recruitment to drug abuse
Encourage people with drug abuse to give it up

The Netherlands and Sweden have both adopted the approach of enforcement of their drug laws, prevention of illicit drugs and provision of addiction care with successful results. Interestingly it is the UK that has gone into the realms of normalising drug use, not the Netherlands, according to research, and I think that would surprise many.

So I will firstly use some of the information contained within her research and book before moving onto those from the side of 'legalising drugs', somthing I am deeply opposed to but will nevertheless give opportunity to it's believers here.

part 2 coming soon...



44 comments:

  1. Poppy production has increased in Afghanistan and here's my sugestion. http://www.bayercropscience.co.uk/product/herbicides/oxytril-cms/

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  2. Thanks for comment
    So does that mean you believe in eradication rather than legalising drugs?
    What strategy would you adopt and do you know anyone affected by illegal drugs?

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  3. A resource I can suggest for you:

    http://www.drugscience.org.uk/

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    1. Thankyou. I will look at this before I do part 2

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  4. Our FAQ contains common arguments for the drug war and our answers, which you might find helpful. The entire website is also helpful. :)

    http://revisiondrugs.org/faq

    Sarah McCulloch

    Core Team member
    Re:Vision Drug Policy Network

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    1. Excellent. Thankyou, I will read today

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  5. Here's what your coalition colleagues think: bit.ly/LibDrugs

    ...and Kathy Gyngell is a seasoned distorter of evidence with the academic rigour of a toad, but if you must read her book...

    I was motivated to be a drug policy campaigner by the Ipswich serial murders too.

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    1. HI Ewan
      Unfortunately it doesn't matter what stats you read there will always be someone that says its not reliable. I usually look at more than one person and I will here but her book was given to me by a Drugs Action Team member in suffolk after a conversation and it is a good starting point. I will search internet and also put other peoples links here. I dont agree with a lot the LibDems think anyway!

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  6. A few questions.

    What about Portugal's huge success with decriminalization?

    Medical marijuana is prescribed in America for a range of illnesses, do you deny it as any medicinal properties?

    Alcohol is a powerfull drug, rated at the top by Prof David Nutt, yet the majority of people just like to enjoy a glass of wine every now and again. Do you think it should be made illegal and that choice taken away?

    Drugs being illegal doesn't stop people from taking them. They are cut with gods knows what and I would argue that this can cause more harm than the drug itself.

    Gambling can be addictive, do you think that should be made illegal? I don't so because the majority of people are responsible and do it in moderation. Same goes for junk food, if thats all you ate (and some people do) you would become obese and suffer from a range of illnesses. Should that be illegal?

    My point is alot of people that take drugs do it in moderation, have jobs and you never hear from them. It's their body and what right have you got to tell that person no to do that to themself?

    I acknowledge that drug abuse can be horrific, these people need medical help not criminal justice.

    You say that taking drugs is unacceptable, why is that? Do you believe that people can't take drugs in moderation?

    My personal opinion is in the future all drugs will be decriminalised and they will look back upon the persecution of drugs users like we look back at hunting witches.

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    1. The very reason why I mentioned alcohol was because I would like, just for once for it not to be included in the argument against drugs.
      I have not said taking drugs is unnacceptable, i have said taking illegal drugs is unnacceptable, because its the law. so:
      I would like to know if evidence suggests we should legalise drugs, irrelevant on alcohol. i would like to know, if not then do we adopt a zero tolerance policy in courts when they break the law, irrelevant to alcohol. so, as alcohol creates as much or if not more chaos that needs to be dealt with separately here. Otherwise its a bit like saying boxing is legal so therefore we can go around punching people.
      i dont think we should make things illegal but we might want to keep the things that are already illegal, illegal. there is a good reason why no government has made cannabis legal, dont you think? And thats before we've even started with the class A.
      As for Portugal, I will look into but I know that the theory about Netherlands liberal laws worked but in fact they didn't and i will look into that more. hope that replies to you and thanks for taking time.

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  7. Hi Nadia,

    I thought I'd give a few resources to look over from a reform point of view.

    LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) - this is a transatlantic organisation of senior police personnel, judges, prosecutors, and many more who actively campaign for a health based approach over punitive and law enforcement:
    http://www.leap.cc/

    Transform Drug Policy Foundation (and their Blueprint for Regulation)
    http://www.tdpf.org.uk/
    http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm

    and Drug Science - this group of senior and eminent scientists take umbrage at the lack of actual science both in our drug policy, and in the media:
    http://www.drugscience.org.uk/

    -- one of the more concerning comments you make in this blog, you said; "Wine is a natural substance that is good for you in small measures. One spliff is not good for you, even if you believe it's not bad for you (to be debated later date)"

    -- If you make comments like this, the scientific community will really take you to task. Please know it's not my intention to be anything less than cordial and polite, but I wonder if you've taken your science from Daily Mail reports? If so, I would strongly advise you to only ever read and cite peer reviewed sources. I'll give you an example: are you aware that the Mail has received the Orwellian Award for Journalistic misrepresentation (and set the record for factual errors): http://neurobonkers.com/2012/01/29/daily-mail-editor-paul-dacre-wins-the-orwellian-prize-for-journalistic-misrepresentation-just-one-cannabis-schizophrenia/

    You may be aware of the eminent Dr Ben Goldacre. He also takes anyone to task on Bad Science and has addressed the UK's interpretation of cannabis on a few occasions:
    http://www.badscience.net/index.php?s=cannabis

    -- The only point I'm making is that drug policy and discussion often incur the wrath of scientists, and a few of your statements firmly fall into that category.

    And lastly, RE your comments on alcohol, you said:

    "Some are comparing taking drugs, like cannabis, with drinking. I am not accepting this argument here for various reasons;
    a) 2 wrongs don't make a right
    b) Alcohol is legal and making it illegal will never happen.
    c) Wine is a natural substance that is good for you in small measures. One spliff is not good for you, even if you believe it's not bad for you (to be debated later date)
    d) Alcohol dependancy is an illness but other than making drinking illegal also, it has no relevance to the war on drugs which is a stand alone issue and requires a different strategy."

    -- You don't appear to be abreast of actual drug policy. Alcohol is not 'legal' - to correct you; it's not 'controlled'. And this is not playing a semantics game with you. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 addresses controlled and non controlled drugs. Despite repeated calls for the inclusion of alcohol in the MoDA1971, successive governments refuse to do so. If we controlled alcohol, we could begin to minimise harms and literally control the substance.

    This is also the same for other drugs. Instead of punitive policies that have little evidence to support their success [see Prof Alex Stevens]( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEc3_-NCzjw ) -- the aim is to control drugs by regulatory methods and put savings into treatment, education etc. The prohibition of drugs has created a secondary rafts of harms, e.g, Legal Highs.

    With my best. Jason.

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    1. Hi thanks for that. I will look into links and much appreciated. Can I just correct you. At no time did my small mention of alcohol get attributed to 'science'! I merely stating my opinion on why I would like alcohol to not be included in the debate as ler my replies to other people. We always do compare and I really would like us to look at it stand alone. Drinking alcohol is legal. I was keeping things very simple here. I don't mind being wrong but I do take offence at people mocking my opinion. I happen to think wine in small measures is good for you, was brought up on it as all Italians are. I know of no one who has bad experience after one glass of wine but I have received comment of someone having a panic attack after one spliff. I am entitled to state why I have an opinion! I am also not against drugs being used under proper medical conditions if it helps someone in pain or cures their illness. That again is a different argument. We are talking about a widespread use of drugs that needs tackling. I have opened up a debate and I am listening!
      And lastly NONE of my future findings and research will be from Daily Mail or any other newspaper. No newspaper is not biased in some way so info will be from people in the know, use drugs, have had family use drugs, proper researchers. I was given Kathys book by a Drugs action Team officer at the council so I am starting there. Hope that makes sense

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  8. Thanks for all comments so far. Will digest and reply! Thanks for links too etc

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  9. Nadia,

    " I invite comments from professionals in the know and people that have lived with a drug problem."

    Ah, I see. You have no interest in receiving comments from people who have—and continue—to take drugs every now and again, whilst holding down a fairly high-powered job and enjoying a marriage?

    In essence, you have no interest in hearing from people who take drugs but do not have a drug problem?

    That's a pity—because the above is, in my (pretty extensive) experience, a good description of 90% of drug-takers.

    I mean, don't get me wrong: given your statement about why you went into politics, I am not surprised that you don't wish to hear from people whose views are different from your own. It's just a pity.

    DK

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    1. I was actually also asking for people who take drugs. Isn't living with drugs either taking it yourself or watching a loved one take it? You really did make an assumption and your comment was totally unecessary. I think I made it quite clear that I want to hear all views. Participate in that vain, or not at all quite frankly

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  10. I spent a long time structuring and writing a counter argument to this only to be informed by the almighty inter-web that my reply must be at most 4,096 characters, I would still like to have my statement heard so if there is anyway you could provide me with an E-mail address that I can forward my counter to you, so that you could possible take on board and reply to some of the points I raise in Part 2 of your blog it would be appreciated. If this is possible the please feel free to contact me at Patrick.B@Live.co.uk and I Will forward you my statement.

    Thankyou

    P. Bell

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    1. please send to nadiacenci@hotmail.com Many thanks

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  11. And Patrick of course I will. And to all go to nadiacenci@hotmail.com

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  12. Can i suggest you try some drugs.I would stay clear of speed as all it does is stops you sleep and makes your willy (temporarily) shrink

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  13. For anyone who's interested, I was one of the tweeters, my response to this post can be found here.

    http://brackenworld.blogspot.com/2012/03/conversations-on-drugs-with-politician.html

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    1. You lost me a bit on your first paragraph because you called my blog a summary. it is in fact an introduction! VERY different. I wanted to invite comments so that I can let people make their own mind up and summarise in a series of posts. perhaps I will even change my mind. I mention alcohol in my post only to say, I dont want it included in the argument. not because its not important but because i am trying to see if people want drugs legalised. Alcohol is already there. I want to see if people think we should have zero tolerance if it remains illegal. Alcohol not relevant there. If we have made mistakes with alcohol then repeating it with drugs doesn't make it right. So just for once let's have a debate about drugs and a strategy, without comparing it to other things.
      Really take offence at women of low ability having to become a prostitute. if we had more aspirational schools that showed young people where their genius was, and how to have self respect, no-one would do it as easily as you suggest. Plenty of disadvantaged women have not got into drugs and street working. No reason why anyone should. its a matter of self esteem and believing you can have better. We proved it in Ipswich.
      I haven't got a degree, never went to university. Build my business up on being a damn good confidence coach. and a politician out of commitment and staying within the law! I smoked cigarettes. Which reminds me cigarettes are legal but that doesnt stop the criminals making fakes and mixing it with rubbish. very important in the normal arguments about legalising drugs.
      You end by comparing with alcohol again. it seems drug users just have to do that. Defensive? most certainly. Accurate? we wont know until drugs are legalised but by then it will be too late to turn it back to illegal so we need to be pretty damn sure. And I need more than one persons say so to be convinced!

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  14. Recreational drug taker, university graduate, Public School.

    Legalise them.

    There may be pro's and con's locally and we could argue them. (Though I think its unreasonable for you to deny the data from US prohibition simply because alcohol is different)

    But internationally it has to make sense, huge parts of the world which could be affluent are completely ruined by the war.

    At my most extreme (perhaps after a drink) I'd say that essentially your war is on the streets of Ipswich and the populations of Columbia and Afghanistan are just collateral damage.

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  15. thanks for that. I can see your point about collateral damage. After all we know as car drivers that some of us are going to get killed but the benefits to humanity and community outweigh the loss of life (so it must be or we wouldn't continue to drive!) Same with any travel etc.
    However if there is another way then we should do it. The farmers grow this stuff because it's good money and what do they care about us but if we obliterated it then they would have to grow something else. The whole of the world is ruined by the existence of stuff like crack and heroine. this is more where I am at. most wars are with each gang of drug dealers and it has spilled onto our streets for far too long now. Tha'ts the real war.
    As a politician I have heard the argument so many times on alcohol v drugs, so just for once let's have a debate without that being thrown in. it solves nothing.
    I also really want to hear from those that DON'T take the drug and want it to be legalised.

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  16. Alcohol is a narcotic substance and should be subject to the same regulation as all other narcotic substances. You can not leave it out of the debate just because you like a glass of wine!

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  17. I haven't left it out because I enjoy a glass of wine!
    I am asking for discussion on legalising drugs. Alcohol is already legal and also I have had plenty of debate that goes no-where because alcohol is always brought into the arguement. Its quite simple. Do we think drugs should be legalised, why and why not? Lets not compare it to anything else but have a stand alone debate. just for once! I am happy to bring it in at a later stage once we have established if drugs should go down the same route as alcohol.
    This isnt even for me to be convinced but for others to have a chance to look at some good links and make their own mind up. Successive governments have kept it illegal for decades. Now I know they are not stupid so there's some good reason why they haven't yet legalised drugs, especially as they could make good money on it by taxing!

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  18. Nadia
    I agree with you on so many issues. However I felt a need to comment on this one. Alcohol is legal, as are cigarettes. Both cause serious damage to the health and well being of individuals and society. Whilst the hypocrisy exists that some substances are deemed legal and others are not (such as cannabis) it will be a losing battle. I am no way saying either should be banned (cigarettes and alcohol) but it is about perception. Hard drugs are an appalling issue but we need a perspective.
    I am going to stick my neck out! If some were legalised the pushers would push off and the whole kudos of doing something illegal would disappear.

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  19. thanks for that. I can see why some think legalising cannabis will at least bring it in line with tobacco and drink. I totally understand that.
    I'm just not sure that 2 wrongs make a right. And this may very well be one of those areas where there is no wrong or right because until drugs are legalised we really don't know the outcome. There are bound to be unforseen consequences especially with those that make a lot of money out of illegal drugs. They won't give up their profits so easily and will think up different angles. Take cigarettes. legal but fakes brought into country by criminals.

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    1. I suppose it is the nature of humanity that someone will make profit illegally from something(prohibition in the USA comes to mind). Can we ever eradicate criminality? - no! We need to minimise it, but the hypocrisy issue has to be dealt with, I feel. - One man's feast is another man's poison. I agree with one of your posts. It is about encouraging self esteem and self worth and self belief from those vulnerable in going down the path of drugs misuse.

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  20. I think the one thing that seems to be a consensus so far is that its not going away any time soon and that reducing demand from young people for the drugs is the way to tackle it. My question now is does legalising reduce demand or will it fuel it. What will happen long term rather than short term? And also yes we need to raise aspirations and self esteem so that people are high on life not drugs! Some have said its failed so far but i think we've been concentrating on reducing harm rather than encouraging abstinence and thus reduce demand. More next week but thanks for your input.

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  21. Hi Nadia, I would invite you to watch this 14min video from the guys on the front line who have decades of very close experience with the subject

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LayaGk0TMDc

    They have no shortage of first-hand experience, and I believe make a strong case.

    For full disclosure I should mention that I am one of the many millions of people who when younger thoroughly enjoyed going dancing and taking a pill with absolutely no ill effect. Don’t judge the overwhelming majority by the standards of those who are using intoxicants as an escape from their broken lives – they're a very small, but highly visable minority, and drugs are either the root cause nor solution to their problems.

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  22. That was most compelling piece received so far for legalising and then tackling the drugs problem.
    recommend you all watch this.
    Thanks for that. And pointing me to the website for LEAP

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    1. And lastly, a video on drug science and the media etc. Another one that may be of interest to you Nadia.

      http://neurobonkers.com/2012/01/26/the-lecture-that-got-professor-david-nutt-sacked/

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    2. Indeed, when Norman Stamper talks through his experience of the impact of prohibition from the early days when drugs were a very fringe activity, to today with organised crime pushing into every neighbourhood, he makes a powerful witness.

      For your interest this is also a very illuminating short talk on how the drug scene works from the dealers perspective www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_analyzes_crack_economics.html

      Also if you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend The Wire enough http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wire-Complete-HBO-Season/dp/B001BBHG1S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331551158&sr=8-1 easily the best TV show ever made. Definitely not family viewing, and the street slang can take some working out (the wife liked to watch it with subtitles!), but absolutely amazing, funny, thrilling, and incredibly rewarding.
      Written by David Simon, who worked for many years as a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun newspaper and Ed Burns who is a former homicide detective who worked extended drug surveillance cases, it just doesn’t get closer to the street.

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    3. I borrowed the series from my son who raves about it. Have watched first season and just started second!

      Will also watch the link you sent. Thanks

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  23. "I suspect we would ALL like to see killer drugs eradicated"

    Well, yes. But which drugs are they?

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    1. I will answer that in the spirit I think it was alluding to. Yes, all drugs are killers if abused, legal or illegal.
      But some are worse. I put class A drugs into the most worrying. Eg Heroin but I have accepted that many legal things are also dangerous and lethal, like bad drivers!

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  24. You say you are into politics. One thing I have observed is that very few politicians "rock the boat" and that most fear being lambasted by the press and being labeled soft on crime. Perhaps, you may decide to have a public discussion about current drug policies and if they are working or not. Well, they aren't working. If the goal of prohibition is to stop/slow the use of drugs, it is not meeting it goal. The reason is simple: economics. If there is a demand, there will be supply. when pressure is applied to the supply, the price goes up so the profit motive gets higher. In a regulated soft drug market, there can at least be some age controls. Drug dealers don't check for an i.d. Hard drugs need to be treated as a health addiction. How does arresting someone, charging them fines, and possibly putting them in jail help them? If someone is really an addict, they will simply steal to get the money they need. Canada has had very good results with needle exchanges whcih prevent the spread of HIV. It is not a matter of condoning the activity but making it less harmful. The people who feel the people get what they deserve when they inject drugs is hate-derived and unhelpful. Only misery is spread. Now let me address your stance that since something is illegal it should be remain illegal. That is ridiculous. Societies evolve and opinions change. In the USA, it used to be illegal for black to marry whites, it used to legal to own slaves, etc. The reason most countries don't legalize cannabis is due to an international treaty push by Harry Ansliger who was a racist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_J._Anslinger

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  25. Hi
    I am quite happy to rock the boat and have done. Easy for me though as I am merely a councillor not an MP so I have no national policy powers.
    I totally dispute that I think something should remain illegal if it is illegal. I have not said that and far from it. Breaking the law by some has brought new laws and rightly so.
    I just need convincing that in this case making drugs legal is the right thing. I really do have an open mind and so far I am receiving mainly support for legalisation. My only other worry is that once legal we can't turn the clock back so we all need to be sure and try to work out any unforeseen effects from the causes. It needs a good strategy and long term plan thought out before we overturn it.
    I suspect the ones who think it should stay illegal are not going to jump up and down as much as those that want the changes. status Quo is always the more silent .
    So I am hoping that I get a wider range of opinions over the next few days.
    I am also certainly not one of those that think people deserve what they get with drugs. In fact I am heartbroken for those whose lives are ruined, often through naivety and lack of self esteem. That's why I want to do what's right. I am more than willing to stand out in my party for what I think will work. However this is mere playing as I can only lobby our govt the same as you really. I may be able to instigate projects in my town but change law? It needs education of the masses and a strong campaign.
    Thanks for your time. It is much appreciated

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  26. http://stevesimpson69.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/judge-goldsack-continues-his-personal-war-on-cannabis/

    Why should cannabis users OR growers be subject to this kind of abuse when people who egotistically, irresponsibly and life-threateningly drive their posing machines with no regard for ethics OR the law?

    Prohibition of cannabis (and other drugs) is not based on ethics nor sound psychology but on prejudice.

    It also doesn't work. Repeating a behaviour that doesn't work but still expecting it to is a universally-agreed definition of mental illness. By that sound logic, the law and politicians/police/allies who support it are definitely mentally-ill. It's been 90 years of repeated failure.
    Why support them, Nadia, if you've not even got a vested financial interest (like most police do)?

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  27. Hi
    Because I have principles, as do most politicians believe it or not! and only minority police are on the take! It's easy to make that part of argument but not correct!
    As I have said, I have an open mind but at the moment, I don't believe we have been doing the same thing over and over again. We have certainly not tried laws that support abstinence, rather than harm reduction and my next blog will cover that.
    When we have exhausted other ideas, and that hasn't worked, then I will see the merits of trying legalisation. My worry is that, do we really think the Mafia and criminals are just going to go away if we legalise them? No, they will either find a way to continue or commit other crimes (kidnappings may go up, arms deals may go up, fake rags may go up). We will have created a new problem under unforeseen circumstances too. Bound to.
    So I have yet to be convinced on legalising NOW but I understand where people Are coming from. This is a small but important shift in my thinking as , we can all have an important discussion, rather than being in one camp or the other.

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  28. I think it’s quite clear that your principals are not in question, and you’re genuinely questioning a core part of our criminal justice system. Damn few go into politics for the money, so I’m not one of the cynics. Unfortunately the principals often conflict with practicalities, much like King Canute commanding the sea to turn back.

    On the practical side we can try to name any time in any place in the history of the earth, and anyone anywhere any when successfully got rid of one of the vices – drugs, gambling, prostitution?
    It has never, and will never happen. Policing can never make the situation better. In Soviet Russia there was a police state. The forces of law and order could use arbitrary arrest, could direct any sentence they wished from the supine courts, and if necessary could execute anyone who got in their way. Yet even the Soviets were unable to enforce prohibition. Why? Because there is a demand for vices, and if we use interdiction to reduce supply, that just pushes up the price and improves the margins tempting in new suppliers. If a concerted effort is made to interrupt the flow of drugs, quickly suitcases full of drug money wend themselves into the right hands, and as well as a drug problem, your police are utterly corrupt. Prohibition – a guaranteed fail.
    Given that the vices aren’t ever going away, do we want them run by the businesses or gangsters? Do we want gambling run by the Gambino family or Paddypower – pick one. Al Capone or Oddbins – choose. It’s a stark choice, but it’s the only choice we have. Gambling is a mugs game, and people get have always and will always get hurt, but it is NEVER going away, and our choice is between people who pay taxes & stay away from schools, or scumbags who enjoy hurting people. Pablo Escobar (who was fond of car bombing innocents) or GlaxoSmithKlien. Pick one. With the experience of prohibition in the 20′s behind us, the choice is crystal clear.
    Prohibition in the States was the making of the Mafia, and they haven’t gone away since. But that is mostly because there’s still a very profitable role for them supplying other vices – drugs, gambling & prostitution. Who drove them out of gambling in Arizona – the cops? No, Disney corporation and others like it that came in with the actual ability to run an entertainment business. Much like Budweiser in the liquor business in Chicago.

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    1. I am becoming ever more convinced. Yours is one of several good replies. Thankyou
      And you are certainly right in your first paragraph. We most certainly do not go into politics for the money.
      So as the saying goes. You had me at hello!
      I suppose I am finding it hard to imagine the detail of legalising. Would there be an age min like alcohol. Would drug dealers still target children to get them started and then sell them stuff cheaper than legal. We can't afford to give it away for free so can we sell it cheap enough to stop 'fake' drugs. Perhaps you have some idea there. Still loads of links for me to read so summary conclusion a little way off yet!

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    2. Well Transform but together a blueprint for regulation http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Transform_Drugs_Blueprint.pdf

      I’ll fully admit that I haven’t read it, but I imagine that Section 3 “The practical detail of regulation” Pages 31 to 66 would likely have the nuts & bolts you’re interested in.

      In principal we’d need to remove the profit incentive as much as possible both from gangsters, and where genuinely harmful drugs are concerned private companies also (I doubt we want the East India Company pushing opium again).

      In essence the drugs the vast majority of people want could be sold in the local shop with age checks, and the chemically addictive stuff only by prescription, with mandatory counselling.

      Where the chic of prohibition has been removed drug consumption always reduces. That may sound unlikely but alcohol consumption in the States spiked in the 20’s – they were called ‘roaring’ for a reason, and in the Netherlands teenagers view weed with disdain. Still, if at the end of the day allot of young people take some medical grade ecstasy and dance the night away, it’s a sight less dangerous than playing a game of rugby, martial arts, horse riding or mountain biking, none of which we’d bat an eye at.

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  29. “My worry is that, do we really think the Mafia and criminals are just going to go away if we legalise them? No, they will either find a way to continue or commit other crimes (kidnappings may go up, arms deals may go up, fake rags may go up).”
    Well the repeal of prohibition is instructive. Chicago became much safer, there wasn’t a spate of kidnappings, and indeed many of the profiteers became pillars of the community. I’m reminded of an example of legalisation from a cop -
    “Blue lamp time now troops. 1989 or thereabouts I was on a murder investigation. The victim liked to avail himself of the “Ladies of the night”. A colleague and I were tasked to trace and interview Julie A. Did the usual precursor PNC check. Julie was being locked up EVERY OTHER DAY. POCD, Prostitution, Robbery (punters) Theft shop, HSG etc etc. Then BAM, NOTHING for two years. It had stopped dead. That meant a few possibilities. She was dead, left the country or was in prison. Prisoner index N/T.
    So we went to the last known address in Warrington. Julie answered the door much to our surprise. She invited us in and we explained the reason for our visit. She was nothing to do with the inquiry. I asked her why she had gone from being such a prolific offender to NO ARRESTS virtually overnight. The reply was that she didn’t do thieving, prostitution or robbery anymore because she didn’t have to. She then showed me her HEROIN CIGARETTES and said and said “YER CAN’T NICK ME FOR THESE BOSS” Julie explained that she was attending a clinic in Warrington where the Doctor in charge a Psychiatrist was running a Home Office pilot scheme prescribing all manner of Class A drugs under controlled conditions. She went on to say why bother to commit crime to pay for drugs when she could go to Dr ****** clinic and get them for FREE.
    The concept of that hit me like a sledgehammer. I thought how many other “Julies” are out there if given the same opportunity would simply give up offending. They only offend to finance a drug habit. How many victims would be saved from loss or physical harm?”

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