Calling all drug legalisers!


by Guest    
1:30 pm - January 30th 2012

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contribution by Stuart Rodger

Drugs policy is back in the headlines once again, and, this time, those of us who favour drug policy reform were in for some light relief.

Early last week, tycoon Richard Branson appeared in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee’s new inquiry into drugs policy to denounce the war on drugs as having ‘totally failed’ and called for a major re-think of policy.

You can get involved in this issue too.

Branson is one of a number of high-profile public figures who shared a platform with the likes of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, to produce the Global Commission on Drug Policy Report, published in June last year.

Put simply, drug prohibition exacerbates and creates the very problems it tries to solve. The market for drugs is so huge, and the human desire to become intoxicated so powerful, that prohibition is nothing short of unenforceable: officially, some 35% of the British population have taken illicit substances .

Another frustration is that every drugs policy debate sets off from the simplistic, conservative drugs-are-bad, just-say-no, approach.

But people ought to be free to do whatever harm to themselves they wish, provided they do not harm others, and provided their decision is fully and correctly informed. It is a scandal that someone can be legally incarcerated for occasionally wanting to get intoxicated.

Another serious problem is the staggering degree of media and government misinformation on drugs.

The Commission’s report produces a graph which compares the actual degree of harms – as reported in The Lancet – with the level of seriousness with which they are treated within the drug control regime: the sheer disparity between the two has to be seen to be believed.

Ecstasy – a Class A drug which regularly features in newspaper scare-stories – appears second to the bottom of the table, as one of the most harmless drugs of all.

Those of us who support reform therefore have a responsibility to make it more politically desirable for politicians to pursue what many of them know is the correct course of action.

The committee are still collecting written evidence for their inquiry, and have done a call out for submissions from members of the public.

You have until the 7th February to make your submission.

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2. So Much For Subtlety

But people ought to be free to do whatever harm to themselves they wish, provided they do not harm others, and provided their decision is fully and correctly informed. It is a scandal that someone can be legally incarcerated for occasionally wanting to get intoxicated.

So you are all for allowing people to take Thalidomide?

It is a scandal someone has been arrested for making a gesture at a football match. It is hardly a scandal that someone who breaks very well known, clearly sign posted laws on the possession of illegal substances is jailed. Not that anyone is jailed merely for possession these days.

3. Stuart Rodger

Well, provided people were fully aware of the risks of taking Thalidmode, yes, yes I would allow people to take such a drug. Such a move would be perfectly consistent with the liberal harm principle.

Everyone would think it was authoritarian in the extreme to deprive people of the freedom to drink or smoke. The same principle should apply to drugs. It is an appalling violation of a basic human freedom.

On another note, I have also written an article about how the legalisation, regulation, and taxation of drugs would be a far more effective way of dealing with the fiscal deficit than David Cameron’s immoral, counter-productive programme of cuts. You can read it here:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/stuart-rodger/how-drug-legalisation-could-save-britains-economy

I’ve never really understand how a free market in drugs would work in practice.
It’s past midnight now, so would I be able to buy some heroin now if I wanted some?
Could I send someone down to get it for me? Ask a taxi to bring me some – or could you have drugs delivery like you have pizza delivery?

And if there were to be certain opening hours for the places that sell it – what about the dealers who would have it ready for sale 24/7 at only a small mark up?
Could you buy as much as you liked and there be no restrictions on resale?
Would you be free to turn your pure cocaine into crack and sell that on?
Could you make bathtubs of crystal meth?

What about people under 18? Would they be allowed to buy drugs and if not … what?. The amount of drugs taken would surely rise quite markedly.
I might even experiment with some drugs if I knew they were safe and you didn’t have to get them through criminal dealers.

@ SMFS,

“It is a scandal someone has been arrested for making a gesture at a football match. It is hardly a scandal that someone who breaks very well known, clearly sign posted laws on the possession of illegal substances is jailed. ”

There’s no logic in what you say. Even if you are simply playing with the word ‘scandal’, it could be argued that the legislation about racism is by now clearly sign-posted. Even if it were not, it is hardly the case that a law is good, as long as it is well known. Although, certainly, the law must be clear and made known, it must also be just, which the drug laws are not. The state has no business intruding into the privacy of its citizens, as it does with these laws. A crime should, by my definition, involve one person harming someone else or their property. Drug taking is, at worst, a vice, i.e. it involves someone harming himself. Although that may be immoral, it is not for the state to impose morality. If someone’s drug taking leads to them actually harming someone else, such as by robbing to feed an addiction, then by all means punish them for the crime of robbery. Prohibition does not prevent drug abuse and causes many other problems, just as alcohol prohibition did in the USA.

Conservatives such as you, presuming this is how you define yourself, should clarify your thoughts. Do you, or do you not, want the state imposing its version of morality on you? If so, I guess this is in the hope that the state’s version of morality may one day be the same as yours, and the boot will return to the other foot. If, however, you do not like being dictated to by fabian-style social engineers, a surer course of action would be to reject such state power entirely and reconcile yourself to the principle of liberty.

the highly addictive, crime causing killer drug alcohol – if discovered today – would be placed with class a drugs like heroin and cocaine within a month…
…just imagine the headlines in the run up to prohibition, especially when the first kid dies of an overdose! (which happens now anyway – kids do die of “alcohol poisoning”)

once prohibited, alcohol would be controlled by crime gangs within days or at most weeks, within a few years, it would be as freely available as it is now, in our society, but the difference is it would be cut with methanol, chloroform, pesticides, industrial solvents etc – anything really, as long as it makes you feel drunk, is cheaper to manufacture, and maximises the tax free profit for said crime gangs!

then you would have turf wars between the gangs over who controls this city, that continent…

then brown paper envelopes stuffed with alcohol money would find their way into the hands of corrupt politicians & police, who to hide the fact that they are from then on bought, would be likely to be the most vocal supporters of prohibition, & the most zealous pursuers of ordinary people who get intoxicated.

because of the above facts, the per user death rate will increase by a significantly large amount.

it goes without saying, the rich would only rarely be pursued/prosecuted.

by the way, the reason why i call alcohol a drug, is because it directly inhibits the re-uptake of the GABA group of neurotransmitters.

neither do i place alcohol in the “that’s different” category i have heard from people in a pub who moralise about currently prohibited substances, usually from reading dodgy tabloids…

7. Stuart Rodger

@damon

People do have understandable concerns about the risks of a commercialised market in drugs. But I think the market for drugs would be as regulated as we want it to be in a democratic society. Far from side-lining the health implications of drug consumption, we could impose the same regulations as we have on the likes of alcohol and tobacco – with health warnings on the packaging. In the unregulated anarchy of the illicit trade, however, dealers are free to keep completely silent about these risks.

The duty level would be a delicate balancing act: high enough to discourage use, but low enough to wipe-out the black market. It can be done, though, as we can see with the tobacco and alcohol markets.

I’m emphatically not in favour of selling heroin in off-licenses, though. My model for legal regulation would be to legalise (and regulate, and tax) soft drugs and medically prescribe hard drugs. This is why the word ‘legalisation’ is quite problematic, and often very misleading.

I think the evidence suggests that the scale of drug use would barely rise at all. That’s the point about prohibition: it’s completely futile. Whenever decriminalisation has been experimented with – and I’m thinking specifically about Portugal, as documented in Gleen Greenwalds CATO Institute study – use of soft drugs rose only very slightly, and use of hard drugs collapsed.

SMFS: I strongly approve of people taking thalidomide for the otherwise drug-refractory cancers that it’s actually used to treat. I also have nothing against men, post-menopausal women and sterile women taking it recreationally, if that floats their boat. If women who are or could be pregnant were to take it, that suggests they are either ignorant of its side-effects, or that they really like the idea of having a deformed baby. The first would be easily resolved by education; the second is outlandish nonsense. So, overall, it’s a rubbish analogy.

TT has pointed out your inconsistency when you mention laws. Currently, it is against clearly signposted and fairly long-established laws (in both cases, laws enacted during the last century) both to make racially inflammatory statements and gestures in public, and to possess controlled drugs without a prescription or licence. You would presumably like to see the first category of laws repealed; I’d like to see the second category of laws repealed.

9. So Much For Subtlety

5. Trooper Thompson

There’s no logic in what you say. Even if you are simply playing with the word ‘scandal’, it could be argued that the legislation about racism is by now clearly sign-posted.

And the laws against racism are wrong. But the point here is a little more subtle. This is a gesture. Not racism. No one was harmed. It is not even certain that the gesture took place, or that it was racist in intent. Liberal Britain has long since died if someone can be picked out of CCTV and jailed for a body movement.

Although, certainly, the law must be clear and made known, it must also be just, which the drug laws are not. The state has no business intruding into the privacy of its citizens, as it does with these laws. A crime should, by my definition, involve one person harming someone else or their property. Drug taking is, at worst, a vice, i.e. it involves someone harming himself. Although that may be immoral, it is not for the state to impose morality.

Drug taking obviously hurts other people. Talk to the families of drug users. This is not a privacy issue. But I prefer the consistent approach you have to most of the alternatives.

Do you, or do you not, want the state imposing its version of morality on you? If so, I guess this is in the hope that the state’s version of morality may one day be the same as yours, and the boot will return to the other foot. If, however, you do not like being dictated to by fabian-style social engineers, a surer course of action would be to reject such state power entirely and reconcile yourself to the principle of liberty.

By all means, I think we can agree on the maximum freedom as being the outcome most likely to leave the rest of us alone. But we have these drug laws. We also have people who are deliberately violating them. They need to be jailed. There are social costs imposed by drug use. Far more so than, say, by racist abuse. We regulate virtually every drug known to mankind within an inch of its life. Why not those that people enjoy?

Daz

the highly addictive, crime causing killer drug alcohol – if discovered today – would be placed with class a drugs like heroin and cocaine within a month…

I am sure it would. And yet alcohol provides a lot of social benefits and it has been part of our culture since we learnt to walk upright. That is not true of Class A drugs like heroin or cocaine.

once prohibited, alcohol would be controlled by crime gangs within days or at most weeks, within a few years, it would be as freely available as it is now, in our society, but the difference is it would be cut with methanol, chloroform, pesticides, industrial solvents etc – anything really, as long as it makes you feel drunk, is cheaper to manufacture, and maximises the tax free profit for said crime gangs!

Well oddly enough that was not the experience of Norway or Iceland or Canada. All of whom experimented with prohibition. Many of whom have kept strict rules on alcohol sales through government monopolies – and you haven’t lived until you have queued up at the tiny window in a Canadian government office with your forms filled out in triplicate – only between the hours of 10 and 3 – to get your single bottle of wine. Which amounts to a de facto ban.

Countries that do not enforce prohibition and have large criminal communities plus lots of psychopaths have a problem with enforcement. Countries that don’t, don’t. Simple as that.

Stuart Rodger

People do have understandable concerns about the risks of a commercialised market in drugs. But I think the market for drugs would be as regulated as we want it to be in a democratic society.

As it is now. We have an entirely democratic de facto ban.

I think the evidence suggests that the scale of drug use would barely rise at all.

What evidence is this? The experience we have of drug legalisation in places like China and South East Asia is that use increases enormously.

That’s the point about prohibition: it’s completely futile. Whenever decriminalisation has been experimented with – and I’m thinking specifically about Portugal, as documented in Gleen Greenwalds CATO Institute study – use of soft drugs rose only very slightly, and use of hard drugs collapsed.

That is precisely not what has happened in Portugal. For a start, it has not been decriminalised. Drugs have been taken out of the legal system and given to administrative tribunals with punitive draconian powers unfettered by lawyers or human rights issues. They did this at a time when the Taliban imposed a ban on opium and so all over the world opiate use declined. But over all drug use is up in Portugal. As you would expect. You are totally misrepresenting the Portuguese experience with drugs. Read Greenwald’s study.

john b

I strongly approve of people taking thalidomide for the otherwise drug-refractory cancers that it’s actually used to treat. I also have nothing against men, post-menopausal women and sterile women taking it recreationally, if that floats their boat. If women who are or could be pregnant were to take it, that suggests they are either ignorant of its side-effects, or that they really like the idea of having a deformed baby. The first would be easily resolved by education; the second is outlandish nonsense. So, overall, it’s a rubbish analogy.

It isn’t really. Nor it is certain that it could be resolved by education. The makers might like to push it through an advertising campaign. After all, no human being is being harmed by thadilomide are they? Just foetuses who aren’t people and have no rights. So why not free reign?

SMFS, amusing…

yes alcohol has been used for thousands of years – & also abused. how many families have been wrecked by family members who become at best anti social, at worse murderous because of their alcohol consumption?

i am asking that because i know a lot of people who have been on the receiving end of sometimes extreme violence (physical, sexual and psychological) as a direct result of a spouse, parent, child or friend abusing alcohol. if you look in your own circle of friends and family you might be able to say the same!

why do you seem to gloss over that?

also, other drugs like cannabis, opium, magic mushrooms etc have been used in various cultures for thousands of years. if it is acceptable to gloss over the horrible negative effects of alcohol abuse in favour of a few pints down the pub or a glass of wine in front of the telly, why demonise & criminalise others who use different drugs? is it because of what you have been told about other drugs by dodgy politicians, prohibitionists and others who have a vested interest in the continuation of prohibition?

there was a royal commission in Australia that looked properly at drugs in 2006, which identified alcohol, while legal & unclassified, as very harmful indeed!

First of all, you have to persuade our policy makers that they can float free from a US-dominated international consensus. Ours are not normally that “brave”.

Also, in order to address this at legislative level you first have to overcome those special interests who profit from the current situation. They’re making a lot of money and they really will resist any relaxation of the law.

First off, if you don’t think the crims involved aren’t lobbying then there’s no hope.
Also, the police get an awful lot of toys, funding and career boosting from drugs, they will fight all the way.
The security services also take a cut. Do you seriously think Iran-contra was the only time when the profits of drug running bootstrapped activities ?
Prisons would empty if drugs were legalised. That’s not gonna please certain groups.

And these, even including the first, are all legit lobbies. they have respect in whitehall, they’re establishment. People who want to legalise drugs are automatically “dirty f…ing hippies” who won’t be listened to. That is not the counsel of despair, but rather, oxymoronically, a hope that you have better arguments than just plain common sense. Cos the opposition arguments don’t make sense and they’re winning.

So you are all for allowing people to take Thalidomide?

If they want too – how many people do you think would? Whats it gotta do with you anyway?

“I’ve never really understand how a free market in drugs would work in practice.”

@4 Damon

You haven’t? I find that hard to believe as that’s the kind of market we have right now. Go down to your local pub and sit for long enough and you’ll see the retailers of any drug you could wish for, no i.d or any checks needed for purchase..as long as you have the money they can supply you. They are free to add anything they want to the substance before you buy, well it is a free market isn’t it. There are no regulations on the content of the drug, it’s safety, it’s price, or age restrictions, hell even the playground is a good place of sale. Got a complaint about the product? The only trading standards you would probably see is at the painful end of a baseball bat. Now that’s a totally free market if ever I saw one.

Everyone who advocates drug policy change wants to put a stop to the free for all we have had for the last 40 or so years and create regulations to control these substances properly. Restricting the venue of sale (ie not playgrounds) to responsible outlets, with age checking. The distribution of pure (not street) heroin to addicts via prescription and the supervision of use. The sale of raw coca (not cocaine) leaves for tea making and chewing. Coffee shops or dispensaries for cannabis etc.

If anyone would like to see what possible future regulation would look like then Transform have an excellent publication called Blueprint for Regulation http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Transform_Drugs_Blueprint.pdf

14. Stuart Rodger

”Since Portugal enacted its decriminalization scheme in 2001, drug usage in many categories has actually decreased when measured in absolute terms, whereas usage in other categories has increased only slightly or mildly.None of the parade of horrors that decriminalization opponents in Portugal predicted,and that decriminalization opponents around the world typically invoke, has come to pass. Inmany cases, precisely the opposite has happened, as usage has declined in many key categories and drug-related social ills have been far
more contained in a decriminalized regime”

From page 11 of Glenn Greenwalds study. http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf

Jo @13, I maybe should have said ”the controlled market” – not the free market.
My point was, how would the criminal dealers and world wide Mafia organisations be able to subvert this control? They would certainly want to. They would still be producing tons of cocaine down in South America and would still be shipping it to Europe and North America. That a few countries were doing this legalised control would mean that there would still be a lot of illegal stuff around in ”the neighbourhood”.
Heroin users might be able to be put on a programme, but recreational drug users will just want their drugs anonymously and readily available.
When you’re in a club and you want some cocaine, where are you supposed to get it?

Maybe being a small time ”dealer” could also be legalised, as if you could make a modest living being a legal drugs facilitator in the nightime economy, it would be a better job than working in a supermarket or warehouse.

@SMFS: As it is now. We have an entirely democratic de facto ban.

Is it an “entirely democratic ban”, or are the British public ignorant of the facts surrounding drug taking and scared out of their wits by our conservative media? A serious debate about drug policy in the UK has never reached a mainstream audience, which means most people dismiss the idea of legalisation out of hand. Also, has the British public ever actually VOTED to retain a ban on drugs? No. So by definition it is not “entirely democratic”.

I am in favour of legalising drugs for many of the reasons set out by others in this comments section, but the debate is certainly not a straightforward one. Much of the tax revenue lost at the point of purchase eventually feeds its way back to the government in the shape of VAT when drug dealers spend their income. It is therefore not a simple case of “look how much tax revenue is being squandered”.

Furthermore, with a serious problem facing the government in terms of employing low educated youngsters, selling street level drugs is a viable source of employment. Never underestimate the importance of the informal economy in keeping people fed, housed and off the government pay roll. That might sound ridiculous but it is true.

It would be career suicide for a politician to back legalising drugs.

@ 9 SMFS,

“Drug taking obviously hurts other people. Talk to the families of drug users. This is not a privacy issue. ”

That depends on the definition of hurt, and it is equally true of excessive drinking, gambling or marital infidelity. Indeed it could be true of anything that someone does excessively without regard to other responsibilities. I don’t deny that these things cause hurt to other people, especially the family. But such things do not constitute in themselves criminal acts against anyone. As I said above, if someone perpetrates a criminal act (by my definition, i.e., harming someone else or their property) that is linked to the perpetrator’s drug use, then that crime should indeed be punished, but the drug use is a matter for mitigation or aggravation and no more. Personally, I do not consider “I’m sorry, my drug habit made me do it” as any kind of mitigation for an act of robbery or theft, and criminals will stop claiming it when judges stop falling for it.

And it most certainly is a privacy matter, unless you believe the state owns you body and soul?

“By all means, I think we can agree on the maximum freedom as being the outcome most likely to leave the rest of us alone. But we have these drug laws. We also have people who are deliberately violating them. They need to be jailed. There are social costs imposed by drug use. Far more so than, say, by racist abuse. We regulate virtually every drug known to mankind within an inch of its life. Why not those that people enjoy?”

This seems a very weak argument. Laws are not unquestionable, certainly not laws foisted on us during the ‘Progressive Era. Give me Victorian values, any time! As for the ‘social costs’ of drug use, I don’t doubt that there are, but there are also ‘social costs’ incurred by the regime of prohibition, which are arguably greater.

As for your comparisons to racism and the laws used against it, I expect I share your dislike for such laws, where they infringe upon the liberty and property of the individual, and do not involve any act of aggression against someone else’s person or property, and I do so using the same weights and measures I use with the prohibition of drugs, distinguishing between criminality and (mere) immorality. In neither case am I condoning any particular act, nor demanding that society should look with favour upon misanthropy or vice. The question is whether, and under what circumstances, the criminal law should be invoked? Where this is not appropriate, there are other measures available, such as education (about the harm of drinking, drug-taking, gambling) or boycotting (racist-owned businesses) etc.

However, for your part, if you justify drug prohibition on a poorly-defined notion of ‘hurting others’, or ‘social costs’, or that, well, the laws are clear and we must obey, you will struggle to build a convincing argument against all manner of social-engineering, nannying and snooping.

My point was, how would the criminal dealers and world wide Mafia organisations be able to subvert this control? They would certainly want to.

Presumably in the same way they do now, by donating fuck-loads of money to pro-war on drugs politicians in the states.

19. So Much For Subtlety

10. Daz

yes alcohol has been used for thousands of years – & also abused. how many families have been wrecked by family members who become at best anti social, at worse murderous because of their alcohol consumption?

I have no idea. I doubt all that many. Alcohol rarely does more except make people’s inner arsehole public. However millions of lives have been improved and extended because of alcohol consumption. So it is swings and roundabouts.

also, other drugs like cannabis, opium, magic mushrooms etc have been used in various cultures for thousands of years.

And if they want to continue to do so in their own countries it is no problem to me.

there was a royal commission in Australia that looked properly at drugs in 2006, which identified alcohol, while legal & unclassified, as very harmful indeed!

The Boomers efforts to demonise the drug their parents liked in favour of the drug they liked knows no boundaries.

HelenGB

First of all, you have to persuade our policy makers that they can float free from a US-dominated international consensus. Ours are not normally that “brave”.

A consensus that arose out of the Opium Wars. You think that the problem in China was the fault of the Chinese government for trying to ban opium?

First off, if you don’t think the crims involved aren’t lobbying then there’s no hope.

We have zero evidence of criminals lobbying to keep drugs illegal. It is a fantasy.

Also, the police get an awful lot of toys, funding and career boosting from drugs, they will fight all the way.

They get them anyway. People don’t like crime.

The security services also take a cut. Do you seriously think Iran-contra was the only time when the profits of drug running bootstrapped activities ?

If anyone wants proof that drugs affect brain function I think I have found it.

Prisons would empty if drugs were legalised. That’s not gonna please certain groups.

No they wouldn’t. Because no one goes to prison for drug offenses.

Stuart Rodger

From page 11 of Glenn Greenwalds study. http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf

See Figure 14 of that report. What do you know, in 2001 heroin related offenses dropped right across Europe. Portugal as well as the rest of the EU. You might think that the Portuguese de-criminalisation had nothing to do with it. You might think that in fact it was the Taliban. Wait. Give the Portuguese time.

Notice what you do not cite:

In theory, the Dissuasion Commissions are able to impose on offenders found to be addicts a wider range of sanctions under Article 17, including suspension of the right to practice a licensed profession (doctor, lawyer, taxi driver); a ban on visiting high-risk locales (nightclubs); a ban on associating with specified individuals; requiring periodic reports to the commission to show there is no ongoing addiction or abuse; prohibitions on travel abroad; termination of public benefits or subsidies or allowances; or a mere oral warning.

So by all means, I would totally support this. Let any policeman in Britain simply deem someone to be a drug user. Let a government-appointed panel, acting without appeal or lawyers, impose a series of strict conditions of their behaviour – including an end to all their benefits – if they continue to use drugs. I think it is an excellent idea. Cheap, fast and utterly indifferent to their human rights.

20. So Much For Subtlety

16. J Cox

Is it an “entirely democratic ban”, or are the British public ignorant of the facts surrounding drug taking and scared out of their wits by our conservative media?

Sure. Everyone else is dumb and only you are smart.

A serious debate about drug policy in the UK has never reached a mainstream audience, which means most people dismiss the idea of legalisation out of hand. Also, has the British public ever actually VOTED to retain a ban on drugs? No. So by definition it is not “entirely democratic”.

We have had election after election. People have had plenty of opportunities to vote on drug laws. They do not vote for legalisation. As you make perfectly clear just a few paragraphs below this. Let me quote you to yourself:

It would be career suicide for a politician to back legalising drugs.

Because the ban is entirely democratic.

I am in favour of legalising drugs for many of the reasons set out by others in this comments section, but the debate is certainly not a straightforward one. Much of the tax revenue lost at the point of purchase eventually feeds its way back to the government in the shape of VAT when drug dealers spend their income. It is therefore not a simple case of “look how much tax revenue is being squandered”.

This is bizarre to the point of terminal stupidity. Whenever anyone spends their money, they pay VAT. If they bought Sony playstations instead of smack, they would pay VAT. And then their Sony dealer would pay VAT again when he bought his new Mondeo. Are you seriously making the case that the government is better off here?

Furthermore, with a serious problem facing the government in terms of employing low educated youngsters, selling street level drugs is a viable source of employment. Never underestimate the importance of the informal economy in keeping people fed, housed and off the government pay roll. That might sound ridiculous but it is true.

No it isn’t. Because it is stupid. It is not viable because they have to pay for those drugs through crime. Which destroys a huge amount of value to no benefit to the rest of us. It impoverishes the community.

Trooper Thompson

That depends on the definition of hurt, and it is equally true of excessive drinking, gambling or marital infidelity.

True. And I think all three are dubious.

But such things do not constitute in themselves criminal acts against anyone.

You mean you don’t think they should. Because drug use is by definition a criminal act.

And it most certainly is a privacy matter, unless you believe the state owns you body and soul?

That the government prohibits me from buying heroin is a long way from the government owning me body and soul.

This seems a very weak argument. Laws are not unquestionable, certainly not laws foisted on us during the ‘Progressive Era. Give me Victorian values, any time! As for the ‘social costs’ of drug use, I don’t doubt that there are, but there are also ‘social costs’ incurred by the regime of prohibition, which are arguably greater.

I do not think my argument is strong, I admit. I do not agree the costs of prohibition are greater. The costs of a gutless, weak kneed refusal to enforce the law properly is high. But it would be high anyway. Drug use is not a cause of problems, but a sign of them. The sociopaths who think they are above the law might have found a different career path if not for the drug business, but I doubt it. They would be in jail anyway. No one is forced to take drugs. No one is forced to steal and murder to pay for it. Sociopaths choose to do so.

However, for your part, if you justify drug prohibition on a poorly-defined notion of ‘hurting others’, or ‘social costs’, or that, well, the laws are clear and we must obey, you will struggle to build a convincing argument against all manner of social-engineering, nannying and snooping.

It is not poorly defined. We can look out the window and see the costs. We can look at countries and their recent pasts like China and see the damage. I don’t need to build a case. The British people are solidly on my side. They over whelmingly want to see the law enforced. It is the spineless wonders that rule us who are unwilling to do so.

Cylux

Presumably in the same way they do now, by donating fuck-loads of money to pro-war on drugs politicians in the states.

The evidence for this being nil. Drugs clearly harm the brain. There are no, or few, Mr Bigs in the trade. They are mainly small time dealers. Who aren’t funding anyone.

@20 The current status quo is giving cartels the resources to build their own submarines – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12461089
Now if you think these cartels would be happy with the destruction of their market that legalisation would represent, you’re bonkers. Do we really need to wait till the first volcano base gets smashed before we realise what the war on drugs is creating?

22. the a&e charge nurse

Handing out free wraps of heroin to 8 year olds would be better than the insane, evidence free drug policies we have at the moment.

Decriminalization is long overdue, why oh why do we persist with a policy based on Daily Heil editorials?

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 a&e

“Decriminalization is long overdue, why oh why do we persist with a policy based on Daily Heil editorials?”

Because the general public feeling would make attempts to decriminalise anything other than cannibis political suicide. I agree with you (actually I’d go further and say just legalise drugs, so we can tax them and apply trading standards), but it seems that those Daily Mail editorials, those unrepresentative articles about occasional people dying “following taking ecstasy” out of the thousands who do so every Friday night, those lectures in school about drugs ruining your life, and those Very Special Episodes of TV shows that make drugs out to be more evil than the show’s main villain… these seem to add up in many people’s brains to a permanent belief that Drugs Are Bad, Conversation Over.

Add in the people who are informed about drugs and still want them to be illegal, and our side is heavily outnumbered. And the stupid, destructive policy will continue until that changes.

I live in a Lab/Lib swing seat. A few years ago a Labour flyer claimed that the Lib Dems wanted to legalise heroin, and then said something like “Labour believes that heroin is a dangerous substance that destroys lives”. That was it, that was the whole fucking argument. Most of the time, anti-drug types don’t even need to address the facts, they just scream “DRUGZ R BADZ!!111″ and then enjoy the glow they get from pretending to be tough on drugs.

@19 SMFS, pmsl

alcohol improves & extends millions of lives does it?

here are a few more pearls of wisdom about the hard drug alcohol…
ethanol (commonly known as alcohol, street names booze, grog etc) is mildly poisonous in and of itself, otherwise why use high % alcoholic beverages as a sterilising agent. it doesn’t just inhibit the re-uptake of GABA in the brain, as a solvent it also has a habit of partially dissolving synapses, therefore it causes brain damage. as a mild poison, it is actively metabolised by the liver, but its metabolites are deadly poisons like acetyl-aldehyde & formaldehyde – commonly known as embalming fluids. the act of metabolising ethanol causes liver damage, the act of ingesting it brain damage!

just begs the question, how much do you abuse it, i have to ask :)

that ROYAL COMMISSION in Australia was chaired by a panel of judges that heard depositions from doctors, police, neuroscientists, psychologists, drug counsellors, drug awareness charities, criminal justice lawers etc – hardly the boomers you are trying to stereotype & dismiss.

*extention of 24*

that royal commission’s findings were compiled into a list based on harm to self and society.

no surprise, heroin at number 1, with a harm index of 3.2 (5 been instantly deadly, causing massive crime waves, so addictive you only need to look at it to be hooked – 1 is harmless in every way imaginable)
then it was cocaine, then barbituates, methadone, alcohol, amphetamines, benzos, tobacco, cannabis etc. way down at the bottom of the list was ecstacy, lsd, & psylocilbin (1.2, 1.1 & 1.1). two things you notice about how police, doctors, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, criminal justice lawers etc rate drugs, is it makes their classification by politicians at best incompetent & arbitrary, at worst downright malicious!

another thing, what killed Leah Betts, ecstacy, or half a gallon or so of water consumed in 1/2 hour? are you prepared to bet your life it wasn’t water? why did she think you had to consume that much water? que a quote of the home secretary (Micheal Howard aka prince of darkness) at the time “if you use ecstacy, you MUST drink lots of water” which was peddled in various ways in the newspaper her father bought – the Daily Mail!

there is a more recent example of that occurance with meow, actual deaths from meow, zero – combined with the hard drug alcohol (a recognised killer), a few, which probably aren’t even remotely stastistically significant…

So Much For Subtlety@ 19
“Alcohol rarely does more except make people’s inner arsehole public.”

This is so far from reality it is bordering on fantasy. I suggest you take your pro alcohol glasses off mate and have a look at reality. Just today the Guardian published a piece about the human cost of alcohol abuse. http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2012/feb/01/alcohol-abuse-crisis-point-britain?INTCMP=SRCH
Liver disease due to the over consumption of alcohol is the fifth biggest killer in the UK, soon to outstrip strokes and heart disease within the next ten years. You really are in denial about the potential harm of alcohol.

We have zero evidence of criminals lobbying to keep drugs illegal. It is a fantasy.

These criminals you speak of are some of the richest people on the planet, these are the ones with fingers in all pies, oil, finance etc… and drugs. Over the last 40 years trade in controlled substances has become the most profitable business on the planet.
Try reading “The Candy Machine How Cocaine Took Over The World” by Tom Feiling, it gives a complete historical account of the cocaine trade and who funds it, along with showing the amount of political clout they have around the world.

The proceeds of crime act in the UK was set up to take the assets from the richer drug trafficker. The police get a percentage of the value of goods and money seized, so yes they take their cut. There’s also the other side of the coin that isn’t so widely publicised that you probably won’t believe and that is the back handers and bribes that the police/border control/customs etc take to look the other way when a shipment comes in or a large cannabis grow is found. If you don”t think it goes on then you have your head firmly placed where the sun don’t shine.

..Because no one goes to prison for drug offenses.

Yes ok, tell that to the thousands of small time personal use cannabis growers in prison right now, some of whom where growing the plants to use as medicine for ailments that pharmaceuticals do nothing for. In case you didn’t know it doesn’t take a prison sentence to ruin a persons future. A caution for example remains on a criminal record for good and can prevent someone getting life insurance, a job, a mortgage, entry in certain countries….in short in can consign a person to a life on benefits for making one mistake.

I will only say one thing about Portugal and their drug policy and that is, if their policy had failed so much why the hell don’t the we hear the public screaming for prohibition to be brought back? Coming up for 12 years now and the only negative voices heard are those of the alcohol lobbys voice the Association for a drug free Portugal…funny that isn’t it?

We have had election after election. People have had plenty of opportunities to vote on drug laws. They do not vote for legalisation.

Show me where in the last 40 years there has been a candidate in the UK (that had the remotest chance of winning) that supports drug policy reform? They are in the hands of the financial sector and the bankers and I’m afraid the bankers are making too much money (with all the money laundering going on) to allow governments to advocate drug policy reform. That’s why they wait till they leave office before telling the truth about the harm the drug war is doing. The public have never been asked to vote on drug policy, it was imposed on the world at the behest of the US.

The reason it would be political suicide for anyone in public office to back any evidence based change in the drug laws isn’t because the public wouldn’t vote for them it is because their own peers and the media would hound/smear/discredit them until they resigned…case in point Prof David Nutt.

When you say drugs harm the brain, what drugs are you referring to? There are all different types and they all have different effects on the brain….come to think of it the only one that actually damages the brain is alcohol…Google it, the evidence isn’t hard to find…if you’re willing to be open minded about it.

@ 20 SMFS

“True. And I think all three are dubious.”

Dubious? What do you mean by that? You think they should all be prohibited? You would at least be able to claim consistency, if you demand all vice to be stamped out, although, of course, it wouldn’t be all vice, just the ones you don’t like.

“You mean you don’t think they should. Because drug use is by definition a criminal act.”

I said: “But such things do not constitute in themselves criminal acts against anyone.” You’re not noting the last two words in that sentence. Or is it that indeed you do believe the state owns you body and soul? In which case taking drugs would be some form of vandalism of state property? In any case drug use is not ‘by definition a criminal act’. Possession of or trafficking in controlled substances is the criminal act. There is no law against taking anything.

“The British people are solidly on my side. They over whelmingly want to see the law enforced. It is the spineless wonders that rule us who are unwilling to do so.”

Hold on! You’re claiming that the British people support the drug laws as they are, because, err, they voted for them. If that is the case, then the public must support the “spineless” enforcement of them by the same token. You’re hoist on your own petard.

The rest of your arguments are so weak, it seems cruel to attack them.


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    Calling all drug legalisers! http://t.co/QI5jPomW

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    Calling all drug legalisers! http://t.co/QI5jPomW

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    Liberal Conspiracy – Calling all drug legalisers! http://t.co/QZZP4l7i

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    guau, no había caído en cuenta de que esto lo escribió mi amigo Stuart http://t.co/He6rFKsi

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    Calling all drug legalisers! http://t.co/QI5jPomW

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