Letter to Times calls for an end to ‘war on drugs’


11:53 am - June 6th 2013

by Newswire    


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A broad coalition of scientists, politicians and celebrities has today called on the Government to join global efforts to end the failed ‘war on drugs’ and commit to an urgent review of the UK’s outdated drug laws.

In an open letter to The Times newspaper, public figures including Sir Richard Branson, Sting, Russell Brand, Dame Joan Bakewell and Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, highlight the £3bn spent by the taxpayer on a drug policy which “does little to address the root causes of addiction and pointlessly criminalises people”.

The initiative, led by Green MP Caroline Lucas, has attracted cross party backing in Parliament from Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (Labour), Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park (Conservative), Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge (Liberal Democrat) and Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West (Labour).

The Times letter comes as foreign ministers from Latin America gather to discuss a new drug policy report described as ‘game changing’ at a summit of the Organisation of American States in Guatemala.

Meanwhile a Home Affairs Select Committee report being debated in Westminster today warns that Government action is needed “now, more than ever” to consider all the alternatives – and to learn from countries that have adopted more evidence-based drug policies.

A Downing Street petition by Green MP Caroline Lucas has been signed by over 25,000 so far

A ComRes poll found that 77% of MPs think UK drug policies are not effective.

The letter to The Times states:

Worldwide there is growing recognition that the “war on drugs” has failed – having cost billions of dollars and caused tens of thousands of deaths.

In the UK, scientists, politicians, lawyers and police increasingly agree that we need to review existing policy, which costs taxpayers £3 billion a year but does little to address the root causes of addiction and pointlessly criminalises people.

By agreeing to an independent review to determine whether the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is effective or good value for money, the Government can prove its willingness to acknowledge failures within existing policy – and join in the global effort towards an alternative strategy based on evidence.

The full list of signatories:
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
Sir Richard Branson, Global Commission on Drug Policy
Sting, musician
Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East, Home Affairs Select Committee
Dame Joan Bakewell
Professor David Nutt, Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
Sir Ian Gilmore, former President of Royal College of Physicians
Dame Ruth Runciman, UK Drug Policy Commission
Mike Trace, International Drug Policy Consortium
Russell Brand, actor and comedian
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park
Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West
Niamh Eastwood, Release
Danny Kushlick, Transform
Lord Rea
Baroness Butler-Sloss
Lord Dholakia
Lord Ramsbotham

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Reader comments


No Baron Adebowale?

No doubt the governments response:-
Yeah but Leah Betts.

I’ve never understood these arguments, and that petition says nothing really. How are you going to decriminalise cocaine? Maybe you could supply herion on prescription to registered addicts, but what about the rest? I wouldn’t mind giving some drugs a try if I knew that they were safe but I’m put off because they’re illegal and dangerous. If I knew you could get a wrap of good coke for a tenner from the pharmacy I’d definitely give it a try. Maybe even heroin too.

4. James from Durham

What war on drugs? It never even started. If it had, we would have seen the bank accounts of the drug cartels in the dodgy “offshore financial centres” opened up. Governments would have actually gone after the money. It never happenned. Whatever the current incoherent set of policy initiatives is, it is not a war on drugs.

I really hope you’re joking ^Damon when you say that the only thing stopping you from doing cocaine and heroine is because it’s illegal. Of course the government would still educate on the harm of these drugs, just as they do with tobacco. So yes, you could go out and buy some coke, but it’s not as if you don’t already know it can ruin your life. Not to mention the intense stigma attached to someone who chooses to make such a decision, as is growing with tobacco, leading to many people quitting. Even when said this would make drugs so easily available, is anyone really so foolish to think that they’re not readily available anyway? I live in a very rural area of Oxfordshire, am only 16 and already know of 2 drug dealers in my village – if people want drugs, people will get drugs. It’s just a question of where.

6. Charlieman

The calls from public figures and Caroline Lucas’s petition are all “safe”. They ask for “an end to the war on drugs” and for “decriminalisation”. They’re not demands for an unconstrained drugs market.

The limitations inherent in those requests will no doubt be ignored completely by reactionaries.

The public mood is changing slowly, but it is changing.

This is only a matter of time.

But about time too.

8. Shatterface

The public mood is changing slowly, but it is changing.

This is only a matter of time.

My dad thought that in the Sixties: his generation would get into power and, many having taken drugs themselves, would be more liberal.

I thought the same in the Eighties.

The problem is basic hypocrisy: as people get older they assume their teenage discressions were just harmless hijinks while the next generation of teenagers are suffering from dangerous social problems.

The rational case was won years ago but politics is based on fear not evidence.

The rational case was won years ago but politics is based on fear not evidence.

Could you tell us what the rational case is Shatterface? I understand about having registered addicts being supplied with medical quality heroin, but that doesn’t undermine the street dealing completely, as pushers will still want to have some supply to get new people introduced to it. The thing about drugs is that they have to be available on demand 24/7, not only when the clinic is open and for registered users.
And cocaine is a far more social drug so would need to be sold very freely, otherwise if you didn’t have any when you wanted it people would still turn to the dealers. In fact, I’ve never understood – would people be allowed to go and purchase a kilo of the stuff just for the convenience of it and do a legitimate business selling it on? If not there would still be a parallel trade going alongside the legal supply.
I would welcome this liberalisation though, as I wouldn’t mind turning into a drug fiend when I become an OAP. It could be a lot of fun.

I welcome a change to the war on drugs. It is simply not working. Drug offences carry huge penalties, yet there are still people taking drugs and selling drugs. Even in a country like Bali, where the punishment for drugs supply is death, people are still selling drugs. Yet what the government is doing by blanket banning drugs is creating giant criminal enterprises that have enough money to outgun the local law enforcement in countries like Brazil and Colombia.

We all know drugs are bad for us. How many people here seriously need the government to tell us this? If Heroin were legal tomorrow, how many of you would go out and take heroin? Yet what you would do by decriminalising is take away huge amounts of money and power from violent cartels blighting south and central America.

I also think that if you were to legalise the lesser drugs like marijuana, but kept heroin and cocain illegal, you would see a shift away from the use of cocain and heroin to marijuana, simply because you don’t face a jail sentence for its use. Of course that will not solve all the problems, but I think it does make the argument for eventual legalisation of all drugs.

If anything, we have to agree on the fact that the current approach to drugs is not working. Simple. It needs fixing, even if it is to reduce the violent crime surrounding the drug trade.

11. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Now all we need is an end to the phoney war on terrorism

12. Man on Clapham Omnibus

7. cjcj

I’ll drink to that

Anybody interested in policy based on evidence?

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g9C6x99EnFVdFuXw_B8pvDRzLqcA?docId=CNG.e740b6d0077ba8c28f6d1dd931c6f679.5e1

What anyone chooses to buy, sell or ingest is not a legitimate interest of the state. Nor is it a legitimate interest of the state to try to “educate” people as to what may, or may not, be good for them.

14. Charlieman

@9. damon: “Could you tell us what the rational case is Shatterface? I understand about having registered addicts being supplied with medical quality heroin, but that doesn’t undermine the street dealing completely, as pushers will still want to have some supply to get new people introduced to it.”

Damon raises the question about allowed/unallowed heroin. Later on, he asks about cocaine. And I have to ask what is the meaning or reality of “decriminalisation”?

I sympathise with reformers who identify that drug control, as it currently exists, is unhelpful. Is Portugal a good model? I dunno.

There are a few facts to assist opinion forming. Pure heroin and cocaine are blended with random white coloured stuff. Amphetamines and crystal meth are made from second level ingredients which make the end result so damaging to users.

15. Charlieman

@13. pagar: “Anybody interested in policy based on evidence?”

Yes, but.

The Portugal model works on a basis of tolerance and humanity. To deliver that in the UK requires a lot of social change.

“What anyone chooses to buy, sell or ingest is not a legitimate interest of the state.”

I suspect that might be a misinterpretation of Portuguese drugs policy.

I suspect that might be a misinterpretation of Portuguese drugs policy

I’m sure it is.

But, for whatever reason, they’re a lot closer to Nirvana than we are.

17. So Much For Subtlety

5. Ali

I really hope you’re joking ^Damon when you say that the only thing stopping you from doing cocaine and heroine is because it’s illegal.

Why? What is wrong with taking cocaine or heroin?

ONot to mention the intense stigma attached to someone who chooses to make such a decision, as is growing with tobacco, leading to many people quitting.

Sorry but what stigma? The pro-drug media has lauded every drug user to the skies since the Sixties. Keith Richards is always represented as a hero, not a loser, despite completely screwing up his life. Just ask his son. Oh wait, you can’t.

Even when said this would make drugs so easily available, is anyone really so foolish to think that they’re not readily available anyway? I live in a very rural area of Oxfordshire, am only 16 and already know of 2 drug dealers in my village – if people want drugs, people will get drugs. It’s just a question of where.

If people want to rape, they will rape. Do you support legalising that? You do not know two drug dealers in your village. You know two people who are rumoured to be drug dealers. Not the same thing. Unless you have tried their product and know? But it is meaningless as we have long since stopped trying to enforce drug laws. We have more people in prison for TV licence violations than for Class A drugs.

Shatterface

The problem is basic hypocrisy: as people get older they assume their teenage discressions were just harmless hijinks while the next generation of teenagers are suffering from dangerous social problems.

I don’t think it is hypocrisy. Children rebel. Parents protect. The older generation sees the damage done on a continuum. A Bell Curve if you like. Some people tried drugs and suffered no harm. Some people tried drugs and suffer a lot of harm. Most people tried drugs and suffered a moderate amount of harm. While young people may like those odds (and dying in an alley of an over dose is, like, so cool) parents do not. Obviously if they lived to have children they are at the right end of the spectrum. And they will not want their children taking the risk of ending up at the left.

Freeman

Drug offences carry huge penalties, yet there are still people taking drugs and selling drugs.

Rape and murder carry huge penalties but people are still raping and murdering. Does that mean the war on crime is not working and we should try surrender? And of course you are wrong. Drug offenses carry no penalty at all.

Even in a country like Bali, where the punishment for drugs supply is death, people are still selling drugs.

Bali is not a country and we can be sure a lot more people would be selling drugs if they were legal.

If Heroin were legal tomorrow, how many of you would go out and take heroin?

I would!

Yet what you would do by decriminalising is take away huge amounts of money and power from violent cartels blighting south and central America.

No. What you do by not using drugs is taking huge amounts of money away from violent cartels. Or more accurately, what they do by taking drugs is giving large amounts of money to said cartels.

I also think that if you were to legalise the lesser drugs like marijuana, but kept heroin and cocain illegal, you would see a shift away from the use of cocain and heroin to marijuana, simply because you don’t face a jail sentence for its use.

Yeah because people prefer alcohol to heroin. By the way, you just argued that if drugs were legal usage would not go up. Now you’re arguing that if usage was legal it would go up. How do you figure that?

18. Charlieman

What I said @6 appears to have been ignored. What I wrote: The limitations inherent in those requests will no doubt be ignored completely by reactionaries.

@17. So Much For Subtlety went off on some bat shit crazy, plain bonkers rant, and no doubt will deliver more.

Battling SMFS is pointless (there is nothing to win). Have a go at me or Shatterface or Damon or cjcj or pagar.

19. So Much For Subtlety

18. Charlieman

What I said @6 appears to have been ignored. What I wrote: The limitations inherent in those requests will no doubt be ignored completely by reactionaries.

Because it is imminently ignorable. What limitations do you think is inherent in their requests? What is more, what limitations do you think are viable in practice once the law is abolished? We do not punish people now for drug crimes and it has not improved things much. The same people who want medical marijuana want marijuana in their children’s primary school cookies too. How are you going to draw the line if you do not have the courage to draw the line?

Battling SMFS is pointless (there is nothing to win).

And because, like, you will lose.

20. ludicrous pseudonym

@19

I’ll bite. What would you to? Continue the current policy or change it (relax/abolish/enforce/other)?

I highly doubt people who want marijuana legalised for medical use want their children to take it in school cookies, by the by, but if you have a source for your statement…

21. ludicrous pseudonym

while I’m at it…

@18

Surely it would be similar to how we regulate tobacco and alcohol use, or prescription only drugs. After all, heroin is to all intents and purposes legally available for medical use under its proper name of morphine.

22. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

A rational debate on drug policy is almost impossible, largely because of clowns like SMFS who like to spew their ignorance over the internet;

But it is meaningless as we have long since stopped trying to enforce drug laws. We have more people in prison for TV licence violations than for Class A drugs….Drug offenses carry no penalty at all……We do not punish people now for drug crimes and it has not improved things much.

15% of the prison population is in there for drug offences, more than for sexual offences, robbery, burglary, theft or fraud.

So SMFS, are you consciously lying, or are you just really, really dim?

The war on drugs is a war on people, especially people from minority groups.

If you haven’t seen Eugene Jarecki’s documentary “The House I Live In”, then you should. I couldn’t find the actual documentary but here’s a pre-screening discussion held at Harvard University.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkSyZorJFwE

24. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

In my view, a sensible drug policy might look like this;

Marijuana – growing your own for your own consumption would be completely legalised. Factory farming and sale would require a license. (Much like alcohol – beers, ciders and wine).

Amphetamines / ecstasy would require a license to both manufacture and sell. (Much like alcohol – spirits).

Cocaine and heroin would require a license to import and sell.

Prices would remain broadly equal to current street value by stripping off the current premiums the prices contain due to the hazards of illegality and replacing them with duty and taxes (much like alcohol and tobacco).

Users would benefit from cleaner, safer drugs with guaranteed levels of purity, society would benefit from the replacement of criminal gangs controlling the trade by legitimate, taxable businesses. Ten thousand less people in prison would also represent a sizeable saving.

In anticipation of the usual argument; “will nobody think of the children?” – as a parent , I can’t currently prevent my children from taking drugs if they want to for the simple reason that they are freely available despite their illegality. And the harm from using illegal drugs would be greatly compounded by them going to prison as well.

@17. So Much For Subtlety

Considering you indicated that you are stupid enough to take heroin I hardly think your opinions can be taken seriously or that you have the brain power to participate in this discussion.

@24, so you’d need a licence to import and sell cocaine and heroin. How is this going to work at the selling and purchasing end? Can you buy as much as you want? Will every town have outlets? Will there be concessions to sell stuff at clubs and pubs, as that’s often when people fancy having a bit of coke etc. Maybe you could get a mobile drugs van turning up in the evening the same way the burger and kebab vans do.
I’m still pretty sure there’s some mighty holes in the middle of this legalisation strategy though.
You’d probably get parallel illegal distribution still going on as there could be money to made by exploiting some differentials in price and availability. Like the way that corner shops can be more expensive than supermarkets because they are more convenient.

27. Ted, liberal

@SMFS

“Why? What is wrong with taking cocaine or heroin?”

The addiction problems which lead to long term helth ramifications for one thing!

28. Charlieman

@21. ludicrous pseudonym: “Surely it would be similar to how we regulate tobacco and alcohol use, or prescription only drugs.”

That is an option but it is not the only approach to decriminalisation. Pagar mentioned Portugal where there are policies to not prosecute users but big penalties for dealers.

@28

There’s more to the approach in Portugal. Anyone caught using hard drugs more than a couple of times is “guided” towards counselling and other treatments to address the cause of their drug use. Ie it’s not treated as a crime but as a health issue. Presumably if you use but manage to keep yourself together its not an issue. Far more enlightened than prohibition, which only makes crooks rich.

30. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

@Damon

I’m still pretty sure there’s some mighty holes in the middle of this legalisation strategy though. You’d probably get parallel illegal distribution still going on as there could be money to made by exploiting some differentials in price and availability. Like the way that corner shops can be more expensive than supermarkets because they are more convenient.

Corner shops are licensed to sell alcohol just like supermarkets. They’re not a parallel illegal distribution network. Unlicensed dealing would still be illegal; like if I tried to sell illicit moonshine at present.

How is this going to work at the selling and purchasing end? Can you buy as much as you want?

Probably not. Have you ever tried to buy more than two packs of paracetamol from Sainsbury’s? It’s not easy. Perhaps we could issue users with ration cards. Smart ones, of course.

Will every town have outlets?

Perhaps the people could decide. Maybe the local authorities could be responsible for the licensing (much like alcohol) and thus be responsive to the wishes and needs of local people.

Will there be concessions to sell stuff at clubs and pubs, as that’s often when people fancy having a bit of coke etc.

Since illegal drug usage is already rife in most nightclubs that would be sensible. It would have the added bonus of shifting the responsibility of harm reduction on to the purveyors of the drugs. i.e. if you’re going to take the profits from selling ecstasy then you’re going to have to take some basic precautions i.e. the provision of free water, information on safe dosage levels etc.

Maybe you could get a mobile drugs van turning up in the evening the same way the burger and kebab vans do.

Not my personal preference, but if they’re granted a license and there’s a demand, why not? It’s not like it hasn’t happened during the failed war on drugs, after all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Ice_Cream_Wars

31. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

@Charlieman

Pagar mentioned Portugal where there are policies to not prosecute users but big penalties for dealers.

Without wishing to criticise the Portuguese model unduly (it is by some distance more liberal and progressive than our own policy), this has a number of downsides; users are still at risk from poor quality unregulated product, criminal gangs are still in control of distribution, and the state receives no tax revenue whatsoever.

I believe that the duty on alcohol represents about £8billion per year. What if drug duties could raise the same amount or even more, say £10billion? That’s equivalent to either the total housing benefit paid out to Londoners or half a Trident system. Elsewhere on this site there’s been talk of the welfare system being contributory. So come on, let the junkies do their bit too.

32. the a&e charge nurse

[23] here’s a link – it really is a stunning film – some say ‘the drug war is a holocaust in slow motion’ (at 99.10 mins)
http://viooz.co/movies/14234-flight-2012.html

33. So Much For Subtlety

20. ludicrous pseudonym

I’ll bite. What would you to? Continue the current policy or change it (relax/abolish/enforce/other)?

I would enforce the drug laws. Georgia has shown what can be done if we put our minds to it. Since the Cruxifiction of a Butterfly editorial we have not had the courage to enforce the laws. We ought to.

ludicrous pseudonym

Surely it would be similar to how we regulate tobacco and alcohol use, or prescription only drugs. After all, heroin is to all intents and purposes legally available for medical use under its proper name of morphine.

Heroin is not morphine. One is produced from the other but they are not the same. Notice that we regulate tobacco and alcohol very differently from prescription only drugs. Which is it? Will you need a doctor’s note or will it be free to buy on the corner shop?

Either way you will see an increase is use, an increase in unintentional use, an increase in illegal use apart from using – drugging drinks for instance. What are the upsides?

Witchsmeller Pursuivant

15% of the prison population is in there for drug offences, more than for sexual offences, robbery, burglary, theft or fraud.

Bollocks. You only get to this figure by classifying robberies and thefts as drug offenses as they go to pay for some people’s drug use.

buddyhell

The war on drugs is a war on people, especially people from minority groups.

That is odd because when the drug laws came in Britain did not have any minority people worth mentioning. And for a long time, did not have a drug problem. But if you take this view, then all criminal laws are a war on people, especially minorities as virtually all minorities are more likely to break the law.

Witchsmeller Pursuivant

Amphetamines / ecstasy would require a license to both manufacture and sell. (Much like alcohol – spirits).

So drugs with dangerous mental health consequences would be freely available for anyone to buy at the corner shop in fact if not in law?

Prices would remain broadly equal to current street value by stripping off the current premiums the prices contain due to the hazards of illegality and replacing them with duty and taxes (much like alcohol and tobacco).

Which means we would continue to have as much crime as before. How is that helpful to anyone but the users?

society would benefit from the replacement of criminal gangs controlling the trade by legitimate, taxable businesses.

No we wouldn’t. We have seen this with prostitution. In fact the people who control it usually continue to be the same low lifes they were before. And what is more you are not defunding the criminal gangs in places like Colombia and so are still funding their violence.

Ten thousand less people in prison would also represent a sizeable saving.

They will still have to steal and rob to pay for their drugs so that is no net benefit at all.

as a parent , I can’t currently prevent my children from taking drugs if they want to for the simple reason that they are freely available despite their illegality. And the harm from using illegal drugs would be greatly compounded by them going to prison as well.

You can’t prevent them raping other people either. Or murdering them. Does that mean you should stop trying? Going to prison is often the best thing for drug users. Gives them a chance to put on weight and rebuild muscle.

27. Ted, liberal

The addiction problems which lead to long term helth ramifications for one thing!

So chemicals you admit are dangerous should be legalised? Why do you think this? If people really really really want to take Thalidomide, should they be allowed to?

Charlieman

Pagar mentioned Portugal where there are policies to not prosecute users but big penalties for dealers.

I would agree completely with the Portuguese model – once the State has deemed you a drug user, they should be allowed to deny you a jury trial, bring you before a committee of government apointees who can then harass the living crap out of you until you give up – by cancelling your welfare, requiring you to attend detox classes, insisting that you cease from associating with anyone they deem unacceptable, requiring you to move even if they feel like it.

Sounds a little authoritarian but I think it might work.

34. ludicrous pseudonym

@SMFS

“So drugs with dangerous mental health consequences would be freely available for anyone to buy at the corner shop in fact if not in law?”

erm, tobacco & alcohol.

35. Richard Carey

@ SMFS,

like I said on another thread, you moan about the lefties, but when it comes to issues such as drugs, you’re just as collectivist and authoritarian as the worst of the lefties. It’s none of your damned business if someone else takes drugs. It’s a matter of privacy and individual responsibility.

36. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

@SMFS

If you don’t believe me that 15% of the prison population are in for drug offences, perhaps you’ll take note of the official statistics. See page 19 :

http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn04334.pdf?

I’m not holding my breath though. You don’t seem like the kind of person to let the facts get in the way of your nasty little prejudices.

If anyone else is interested in some actual financial projections of taxing cannabis, I’d recommend this from the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit.

http://www.clear-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf

37. Ted, liberal

@SMFS

“So chemicals you admit are dangerous should be legalised? Why do you think this? If people really really really want to take Thalidomide, should they be allowed to?”

WTH Well arent you thick as shit, I said something against legalising drugs.

38. Charlieman

@31. Witchsmeller Pursuivant: “Without wishing to criticise the Portuguese model unduly (it is by some distance more liberal and progressive than our own policy), this has a number of downsides; users are still at risk from poor quality unregulated product, criminal gangs are still in control of distribution, and the state receives no tax revenue whatsoever.”

The example of Portugal was mentioned by pagar and me as one form of decriminalisation. It is evidently imperfect but it proves that governments don’t have to carry on doing the same old things.

My thoughts on how to reform are conflicted. I just think it is dumb to ignore the need for change.

@33

“That is odd because when the drug laws came in Britain did not have any minority people worth mentioning. And for a long time, did not have a drug problem. But if you take this view, then all criminal laws are a war on people, especially minorities as virtually all minorities are more likely to break the law”.

You don’t read so well. Pay attention: the film is about the war on drugs in the US, which also has repercussions elsewhere, including the UK. The war on drugs is a war on people. As for the rest of your reply, it’s a misrepresentation but it also reveals something about your position on people of colour.

Well, if Sting signed the letter it must be right!

41. So Much For Subtlety

35. Richard Carey

like I said on another thread, you moan about the lefties, but when it comes to issues such as drugs, you’re just as collectivist and authoritarian as the worst of the lefties. It’s none of your damned business if someone else takes drugs. It’s a matter of privacy and individual responsibility.

I am not a Liberal or a Libertarian. You are not telling me anything I did not know. Or anything I think I should be particularly ashamed of. However whether or not drugs are illegal is a different matter. They are illegal. The people using them are doing so in full knowledge that they are illegal – and that their use causes massive human suffering up and down the supply chain. They do not care. Drug users are almost by definition sociopaths. And so need to be in jail whether or not drugs are legal.

It is not a matter of privacy and individual responsibility. You may think it should be, but we as a community have decided it is not. And so made drugs illegal. This it is very much my business.

Witchsmeller Pursuivant

If you don’t believe me that 15% of the prison population are in for drug offences, perhaps you’ll take note of the official statistics. See page 19 :

You have given two sources, one of which claims that drugs offenses – whatever that means – make up 15 percent, but the other claims they make up 5% of offenses. Seems a little bit of a contradiction. I would have to see a definition of drug crime for that first source. However your drug lobby group claims that non-marijuana drug criminals make up 1% of all offenses committed. Which is to say, your chances of going to prison for a Class A drug is roughly zero.

42. So Much For Subtlety

39. buddyhell

The war on drugs is a war on people.

Indeed it is. It is a war on people who look at the rest of the community and decide that community standards and the law does not apply to them. They look at the suffering of people in Colombia and elsewhere and decide their two minute high is more important. They look at the pain and suffering of others and don’t give a damn.

We call such individuals psychopaths. And they should be in prison.

As for the rest of your reply, it’s a misrepresentation but it also reveals something about your position on people of colour.

It is not a misrepresentation and of course it is true. Deal with it.

So Much For Subtlety spends hundreds of words telling us about the appalling squalor and horrors of drug use, the dangers of a lonely death by overdose in a dark back-alley, etc. etc. And then he follows it up with this classic:

Freeman: If Heroin were legal tomorrow, how many of you would go out and take heroin?

SMFS: I would!

In terms of pure thickness, pigshit has nothing on this guy.

You may think it should be, but we as a community have decided it is not.

I don’t recall that referendum.

@42

“It is not a misrepresentation and of course it is true. Deal with it”.

Great response. I suggest you buy yourself a dictionary and look up the word “misrepresentation”.

35

‘if someone else takes drugs. It’s a matter of privacy and individual responsibility’

You mean like Ayn Rand?

You have given two sources, one of which claims that drugs offenses – whatever that means – make up 15 percent, but the other claims they make up 5% of offenses.

Well the first figure is the percentage of the prison population, while the second 5% figure relates to all offenses committed in the year period 2009/10. Note:- not all offenses lead to a stay in prison.
So what you’ve actually pointed out is that of offenses committed, drugs offenses are 3 times more represented in the prison population. Which reinforces his argument. Well done.

48. Richard Carey

@ 41 SMFS

“It is not a matter of privacy and individual responsibility. You may think it should be, but we as a community have decided it is not. And so made drugs illegal. This it is very much my business.”

As I noted above, you are an authoritarian collectivist. You have abdicated your own thinking to the amorphous ‘community’. As such, whether drug laws are aggressively enforced, or hardly enforced at all, or abolished completely are decisions of the ‘community’ to which you must bow.

49. So Much For Subtlety

43. Larry

So Much For Subtlety spends hundreds of words telling us about the appalling squalor and horrors of drug use, the dangers of a lonely death by overdose in a dark back-alley, etc. etc.

Actually I don’t think I did. But let’s take that as read.

In terms of pure thickness, pigshit has nothing on this guy.

Your lack of understanding is not proof of my lack of intelligence. You should try to understand before condemning.

Does illegal drug use do much damage? Heroin? Probably not. Amphetamines certainly drive you insane. Marijuana seems to make you stupid. The more modern chemicals have God knows what effect – we simply do not know and are engaged in a massive unregulated experiment in unlicenced pharmaceuticals to find out. But that is not the point. The point is they are illegal. The point is their illegal production produces serious harm from terrorism to psychotic drug gangs. Every snort is paid in innocent blood. We all know this. Drug users know this. They do it anyway. If sugar still came from slave plantations, I doubt any decent person would touch it. Cocaine is not much different. That is the problem – they are psychopaths who are indifferent to the pain and suffering of others. They need to be in jail. Drug use did not make them that way but it serves as a good indicator. If we legalised drugs, I could shoot up to my heart’s content, but neither my character or the character of any drug user alive today would change.

Cylux

I don’t recall that referendum.

I don’t recall a referendum on the death penalty, but there you go. It is almost as if society has some other way to decide on these things.

buddyhell

Great response. I suggest you buy yourself a dictionary and look up the word “misrepresentation”.

Thank you. I suggest you point out what you think I misrepresented. You won’t because you can’t.

Cylux

So what you’ve actually pointed out is that of offenses committed, drugs offenses are 3 times more represented in the prison population. Which reinforces his argument. Well done.

Thank you. Except you have yet to show how they define a drug crime.

Richard Carey

As I noted above, you are an authoritarian collectivist. You have abdicated your own thinking to the amorphous ‘community’.

Thank you. I try. But you are wrong. I did not abdicate anything. I looked at the evidence, flirted with the libertarian response, and then made up my own mind. Which happens to agree with society’s. Society is made up of a lot of people, many of whom are smart. Their decisions are made by debate and consensus and so tend to be well thought out – not all the time, not 100% but as a general rule. It is usually a mistake to assume you are smarter than everyone else.

As such, whether drug laws are aggressively enforced, or hardly enforced at all, or abolished completely are decisions of the ‘community’ to which you must bow.

Indeed. That is the reality of the world whether I like it or not. So what’s your point?

50. Charlieman

@49. So Much For Subtlety: “Drug users know this. They do it anyway. If sugar still came from slave plantations, I doubt any decent person would touch it. Cocaine is not much different. That is the problem – they are psychopaths who are indifferent to the pain and suffering of others.”

The only person who has mentioned psychopaths on this thread is SMFS. SMFS is the only person who compares sugar with cocaine.

SMFS has immense ability to identify and exaggerate huge distractions.

51. So Much For Subtlety

50. Charlieman

The only person who has mentioned psychopaths on this thread is SMFS. SMFS is the only person who compares sugar with cocaine.

That does not mean I am wrong. Is cocaine produced under conditions that the Fair Trade crowd would approve of? Well, by and large, yes – if you ignore the damage to the rainforest and so on. But then does it pass into the hands of incredibly violent drug gangs and terrorist groups? Yes it does. Does the drug trade fund things like Mexico’s drug war? Yes it does. Does it fund groups like the Cali cartel? Yes it does.

The comparison is valid. If you wish to ignore it that is up to you. It does not mean that every time someone puts some cocaine up their nose they are not helping to maim and kill people on the other side of the world. And we all know it. Especially the people who do it.

52. Richard Carey

@ SMFS,

” I looked at the evidence, flirted with the libertarian response, and then made up my own mind. Which happens to agree with society’s.”

Society does not agree with you, because society doesn’t have an opinion. Some of the individuals within society agree with you, many do not, as evidenced by the letter to the Times.

“Their decisions are made by debate and consensus and so tend to be well thought out – not all the time, not 100% but as a general rule.”

You are confusing society and the state, but then, as you are an authoritarian collectivist, this is unsurprising. Society includes everyone, even those evil drug-takers who ignore the legal prohibitions, and all those other people who think the prohibitions should be abolished.

“That is the reality of the world whether I like it or not. So what’s your point?”

Laws can be changed. In this case they should be changed, as they violate fundamental principles, which would be clear to you if you respected the traditional English liberties which made this nation great.

@ SMFS

It is not a matter of privacy and individual responsibility. You may think it should be, but we as a community have decided it is not. And so made drugs illegal.

Err.. no.

You are correct that most people seem to support the prohibition of some narcotic substances by the state but that is because most people are fundamentally stupid.

Like you, they are both communitarian and authoritarian on this issue, lacking the intelligence or will to think for themselves and trusting their well being and prosperity to the state.

But if you accept, as I do, that the only legitimate role of the state is to pass laws criminalising theft from and aggression toward others then it is obvious that prohibiting what an individual may choose to put into their own bodies does not meet that “legitimate” criteria.

In libertarian terms, it is, therefore, an extremely bad law and, as such, should be ignored or flouted by all moral people.

So, SMFS, it is strange that, although you have often demonstrated, on this site, that you are very capable of independent thought, you seem to have a blind spot over this topic. You seem prepared to waive your right to independent judgement based on the mantra that “we have made it illegal therefore it must be bad and we must be right”.

Because it should be obvious to anyone examining the evidence dispassionately that prohibiting drugs is not only pernicious in terms of liberal principle, but it has a catastrophically adverse effect on large numbers of people.

Consider the Afghan slave labourer forced to work in a poppy field and the corpse of the Mexican courier dumped by the side of the road.

Consider the serial shop lifter, jailed yet again, and the teenage prostitute on the street corner, desperate for her fix.

Consider the young heroin users who have overdosed on an unusually pure batch of the drug and the old lady hit over the head with an iron bar at an ATM machine.

What do they have in common?

These people are not the victims of narcotics but of prohibition- the casualties of a “war on drugs”, which cannot be won.

However although it is obvious that it cannot be won, we also know that the war cannot be ended because it is ultimately sustained by the majority of stupid people, afraid of something they don’t understand.

And, on this issue, it seems you are one of them.

It’s not society that makes the law, it’s legislators.]

Some substances are illegal because some legislators made a law that prohibits them.

And the law that prohibits some substances isn’t merely based on harm or harm reduction it’s based on political expedience and puritanism.

55. So Much For Subtlety

52. Richard Carey

Society does not agree with you, because society doesn’t have an opinion. Some of the individuals within society agree with you, many do not, as evidenced by the letter to the Times.

I see. You think the community exists but society does not. OK. A majority of individuals within this society seem to agree with me. Hence the law.

You are confusing society and the state, but then, as you are an authoritarian collectivist, this is unsurprising.

How can I be a collectivist if the State does not exist? Society works in a way that is even better for my case. Instead of ephemeral laws, society has deep seated views based on generations of hard-won knowledge. Society knows that drugs are bad, whether or not they want them banned. Society is, by and large, not tolerant of drug users because they know they are abdicating their family and social responsibilities.

Society includes everyone, even those evil drug-takers who ignore the legal prohibitions, and all those other people who think the prohibitions should be abolished.

So it does. So what?

Laws can be changed. In this case they should be changed, as they violate fundamental principles, which would be clear to you if you respected the traditional English liberties which made this nation great.

Didn’t Churchil say rum, sodomy and the lash made this country great? English liberties did not come along until much later. We have so many violations of fundamental liberties it is hard to know where to start, but we can be sure this is a lower order issue. But even if you got your way and the law was changed, sociopaths would still be sociopaths. Which might be good if they go off and be like Steve Jobs – not all sociopaths are entirely bad for society. But it is unlikely they will. The drug laws are nice for the rest of us because they allow those sociopaths to identify themselves and hence allow us to lock them up where they can do little harm except to each other. They will not change whether drugs are legal or not.

pagar

Err.. no.

You mean drugs are not illegal? Cool.

You are correct that most people seem to support the prohibition of some narcotic substances by the state but that is because most people are fundamentally stupid.

I am not sure calling most people stupid is a winning strategy. I am also not sure it is true. Ordinary folk have deep reservoirs of common sense and decency.

Like you, they are both communitarian and authoritarian on this issue, lacking the intelligence or will to think for themselves and trusting their well being and prosperity to the state.

By all means, let’s abolish the state then.

But if you accept, as I do, that the only legitimate role of the state is to pass laws criminalising theft from and aggression toward others then it is obvious that prohibiting what an individual may choose to put into their own bodies does not meet that “legitimate” criteria.

If. Let me know if you get your revolution. History has been moving in the other direction for a long time and is likely to continue to do so. Liberal Britain is dead.

In libertarian terms, it is, therefore, an extremely bad law and, as such, should be ignored or flouted by all moral people.

Even if you do not like the law, there is no obligation to flout it. Especially one that brings no social benefit at all.

Consider the Afghan slave labourer forced to work in a poppy field and the corpse of the Mexican courier dumped by the side of the road.

Let us consider them. No doubt that legalisation would help them to some extent. Not much as slave labour is common in many parts of the world without drug trade. However that is not the point. The point is the sort of people who smoke drugs *despite* such tragedies, despite the fact they are causing them, are the problem. They are deeply a-social. Sociopaths. They need to be in jail for the protection of the rest of us. If drug laws help us smoke them out, then, fine, drug laws are good.

Consider the serial shop lifter, jailed yet again, and the teenage prostitute on the street corner, desperate for her fix.

Odd that your libertarianism breaks down when it comes to drug use. Let us consider these two people who freely choose to break the law, who have exercised their own freedom to violate the law on an on-going basis. Who have chosen, of their own free will, to take drugs. They have no one to blame but themselves and the solution is to stop breaking the law. They need to make a better choice.

Consider the young heroin users who have overdosed on an unusually pure batch of the drug and the old lady hit over the head with an iron bar at an ATM machine.

What do they have in common?

Sociopathy. The sociopathy of the drug user. Someone who was born without a conscience or had something go very wrong in their life and so they have chosen to inflict misery and death on others.

These people are not the victims of narcotics but of prohibition- the casualties of a “war on drugs”, which cannot be won.

Again all thought of personal responsibility goes out the window. Drug use is not like food – something we need to do to live. It is not even like sex – something we really really do not want to do without. It is a choice. They are not victims of narcotics. They are not victims at all – except the little old lady. They are sociopaths who have chosen to violate every norm known to mankind.

52

Although I agree that the prohibition of certain drugs can cause more negative than positive effects, you are tending to focus on your own political leanings rather than the focus of the debate. Calling those who do not favour legalization lefty and authoritarian does not add to the debate, you would hardly call the Qing Empire leftist.

Most people are aware that behaviours have both a social and individual impact, liberal society itself created the private and public. Less name calling and more substance would be a good idea.

57. So Much For Subtlety

54. ukliberty

It’s not society that makes the law, it’s legislators. Some substances are illegal because some legislators made a law that prohibits them.

I don’t disagree. Except that people do get a chance to vote legislators in and out of office. So they are not operating in a vacuum.

And the law that prohibits some substances isn’t merely based on harm or harm reduction it’s based on political expedience and puritanism.

Indeed. Compare it with the ban on racist speach and discrimination – something that has not been shown to harm anyone. I am sure we could agree that these laws were passed by Parliament – and probably most people never supported them. And that they were based on some cheap political expedience and a deep puritanism.

But how many people want them abolished?

Not because the laws are just. We know they are not. But because of the supposed social harm and the fact that they are not designed to punish words, but to punish a state of mind most people do not like – racists.

In the same way drug use has some degree of social harm but above all, they serve to mark out sociopaths. People like Keith Richards who said that laws were for little people, not him. As such they are very useful. If such people were not busy in prison (in a tiny number of cases) or sleeping all day, they would be out brutalising the rest of us. So drug laws serve us well. When they are enforced.

58. Richard Carey

@ 55 SMFS

“You think the community exists but society does not.”

I said no such thing, I merely alerted you to the fact that society is made up of individuals who think for themselves and don’t all agree, least of all with you.

“How can I be a collectivist if the State does not exist?”

The State does exist. The question makes no sense.

“English liberties did not come along until much later.”

Magna Carta indicates you are wrong, as does the Habeas Corpus Act, which long preceded Churchill.

“We have so many violations of fundamental liberties it is hard to know where to start, but we can be sure this is a lower order issue.”

It is not a low order issue, as it is concerned with self-ownership, the very principle of individual liberty. I recognise you don’t believe in such things, preferring to abdicate your natural self-ownership to the collective.

It also perverts the criminal law, which should be limited to prohibiting one from harming another person or their property, not from regulating personal morality. Not only is this unjust, but it eats away at the necessary principle of individual responsibility for one’s actions.

@ SMFS

I am not sure calling most people stupid is a winning strategy. I am also not sure it is true.

I am not proposing a winning strategy, I am telling what I know to be true. And, if you’re honest, you also know that it is true.

Ordinary folk have deep reservoirs of common sense and decency.

Ha Ha. “I accept they’re stupid but because they happen to agree with my view on this issue……”

By all means, let’s abolish the state then.

Yabadabadoo!!!!

Let me know if you get your revolution. History has been moving in the other direction for a long time and is likely to continue to do so. Liberal Britain is dead.

I agree. Doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

Even if you do not like the law, there is no obligation to flout it.

Agree again. But there is no moral obligation to obey it, either.

No doubt that legalisation would help them to some extent.

If all drugs were legal it would undermine most of the gangsters that are currently involved in manufacture and distribution. When the Volstead Act was repealed in the US in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits overnight because of competition with legal liquor stores selling alcohol at lower prices.

They have no one to blame but themselves and the solution is to stop breaking the law. They need to make a better choice.

I agree that they have to live with the consequences of the choices they makevand I’m not condoning theft or violence, whatever the circumstances. But making drugs unmanageably expensive through prohibition does not help habitual opiate users to lead better lives.

Sociopathy. The sociopathy of the drug user. Someone who was born without a conscience or had something go very wrong in their life and so they have chosen to inflict misery and death on others.

I entirely agree with you that the use of drugs is no excuse whatever for committing real crimes. The mugger of the old lady at the ATM is no less guilty because he has a drug habit but the problem with what he does is the appalling crime, not the drug use.

There is no evidence whatever to indicate that drug use necessarily leads to other crimes even though it is obvious that regular drug users commit a disproportionately high level of offences. Because the reason they do so is not because they are sociopaths, as evidenced by their drug use, but because funding their habit is so expensive.

As I’ve said I’m not, for a moment, excusing their behaviour but, for most, their crimes of theft and violence are a direct result of prohibition- just another of the usual unintended consequences that occur when governments meddle in people’s lives “for their own good”.

Is SMFS confused?

Laws against drugs are OK by definition – because laws are made by lawmakers who society voted for. But laws against racism are not OK because… SMFS disagrees with them.

61. Robin Levett

@SMFS #17:

Let’s look at this claim:

We have more people in prison for TV licence violations than for Class A drugs.

Which would be difficult in the extreme, since TV licence violations are not punishable by imprisonment, but by fine. Let’s not be too picky about that though, since fine defaulters can be imprisoned. According to the “Offender management caseload statistics 2012 tables”, there were on 30 June 2012 a total of 127 people in prison for fine default (Table 1.19). On the same date, there were 10,682 in prison for drug offences (Table 1.9).

Your claim that “drug offences” includes those imprisoned for burglary etc to feed their habit is simply wrong. The statistics record that as burglary. Drug offences are possession and possession with intent to supply.

It isn’t easy to find a breakdown between convictions for possession supply of Class A and of other drugs; but since Class A drugs attract higher maximum and tariff sentences (including a mandatory 7 year term for repeat offences of supply), and Class A drug usage is running at just under half pot usage (CSEW 2011-2), it would be suprising if much fewer than half of those in prison were there for Class A drug offences.

So its a maximum of 127 TV licence offenders in prison (assuming no other fine defaulters were in prison), and a probable 5,000 or so Class A drug offenders. In SMFS’s universe, it seems that 127 is higher than 5,000. Is further comment necessary?

My original post seems to have disappeared into the ether, so if it turns up, apologies for repeating myself.

It is clear that those in favour of legalisation/prohibition of certain drugs come from differing political perspective so name-calling doesn’t really add to the debate.

The fact is, those who take drugs do so for their psychotropic properties or they would just chew grass or drink water. Drugs, therefore, change they way people behave and perceive the rest of society/group of individuals, so we need to be looking at both the impact to the individual and upon those around them.
We also have strong evidence that taking drugs within adolescence can cause mental health problems in later life, so what responsibility do we have towards children and young people in respect of allowing/disallowing access to drugs.

It is clear that prohibition, determined by the state, does not work but that doesn’t mean the only other consideration is a free-market.

63. Charlieman

@51. So Much For Subtlety: “That does not mean I am wrong. Is cocaine produced under conditions that the Fair Trade crowd would approve of? Well, by and large, yes – if you ignore the damage to the rainforest and so on.”

Owing to its illegality, the coca plant is grown in remote locations controlled by gangster or paramilitary organisations. To suggest that plantation workers are treated in the same way as workers on a Fair Trade sugar farm is, at best, naive. And definitely wrong.

64. Richard Carey

@ 61 steveb,

“Drugs … change they way people behave and perceive the rest of society/group of individuals, so we need to be looking at both the impact to the individual and upon those around them. We also have strong evidence that taking drugs within adolescence can cause mental health problems in later life…”

I think it needs to be stressed that abolishing prohibition does not equate to declaring drug-taking good, safe or wholesome. There are many reasons to avoid drugs, beyond the legal issue. Part of the argument for prohibition is ‘drugs are bad, so they should be banned’. Some people counter this by attacking the first part, usually by making comparisons to alcohol and tobacco. Such comparisons can be spurious, apples and oranges.

I would not myself argue against drugs being bad, but rather against the conclusion that therefore they should be banned, along the standard libertarian lines, you’ve no doubt encountered before. Much of the effort now spent to limit drug use is in the form of education and other social interventions. This would surely continue. As for the issue of children/adolescents, the same approach as taken with alcohol would need to be applied.

If you consider alcohol now, it is a free market up to a point, but there are age-related restrictions, high taxes, prohibitions on public drunkenness and driving, and licencing requirements for vendors. It’s certainly conceivable that the same could be applied to currently illegal drugs, although it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

I think it’s also the case there are considerable differences between cannabis and the other most notable drugs, in that it can be grown by anyone. It does not need to be imported or manufactured. Therefore it would be quite easy to loosen the law on that drug, even without changing the status of other drugs, such as by decriminalising the growing of a few plants, which is the case, I believe, in Spain.

The general point I want to make is that we need to distinguish between the state and society. There are many things which are anti-social and deserve to be denounced, stigmatised or frowned upon, but this doesn’t mean the blunt instrument of state power should be used to suppress such behaviour.

We also have strong evidence that taking drugs within adolescence can cause mental health problems in later life, so what responsibility do we have towards children and young people in respect of allowing/disallowing access to drugs.

Wasn’t that only in relation to resin forms of cannabis, which are in and of themselves a product of the trade being illegal?

66. Richard Carey

@ Cylux,

I think you’re wrong on the detail but right on the conclusion. The link to mental illness afaik is due to skunk and other high-strength grass. Due to prohibition, it is harvested ‘young’, i.e. when it reaches a certain bulk. At this point the grass has a high level of a particular chemical, which I think is the one most likely to cause mental problems. If the plant is allowed to ‘mature’ a little, then this chemical reduces, in other words, growing for quality takes a little longer than growing for quantity, but the average drug farmer is not concerned with this. Aside from this issue of the plant’s chemical make-up, prohibition drives a tendency towards stronger and more concentrated forms of the drug, in the same way as alcohol prohibition increased consumption of spirits compared to beer and wine.

@ Richard

I think it’s also the case there are considerable differences between cannabis and the other most notable drugs, in that it can be grown by anyone. It does not need to be imported or manufactured. Therefore it would be quite easy to loosen the law on that drug, even without changing the status of other drugs, such as by decriminalising the growing of a few plants, which is the case, I believe, in Spain.

I think we need to be careful here.

The point, as you know, is one of principle – it is no business of the state to prohibit what an individual may, or may not, choose to take. Once we are distracted into discussing the relative merits, or even characteristics, of different drugs the implication is that the prohibitionists may have an argument.

Many doctors, because they have ready access to opiates, choose to take them on a regular basis throughout their lives without apparent malfunction. I am not suggesting that is a “good thing” any more than is my gin and tonic habit because it is, really, none of my business.

My only gripe would be if they give me bad treatment, or advice, as a result of their actions.

steveb,

The fact is, those who take drugs do so for their psychotropic properties or they would just chew grass or drink water. Drugs, therefore, change they way people behave and perceive the rest of society/group of individuals, so we need to be looking at both the impact to the individual and upon those around them.
We also have strong evidence that taking drugs within adolescence can cause mental health problems in later life, so what responsibility do we have towards children and young people in respect of allowing/disallowing access to drugs.

I don’t think anyone supporting decriminalisation argues that children should be free to consume illicit substances any more than they should be free to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol – children enjoy a different degree of liberty to that enjoyed by adults. Nor does anyone disagree that such substances change behaviour (that, as you say, is the point).

But what consenting adults do to themselves or each other isn’t the law’s business. When their activities do harm to other people the state has a legitimate interest.

69. the a&e charge nurse

[66] ‘My only gripe would be if they give me bad treatment, or advice, as a result of their actions’ – one cannot escape externalities from drug taking, be it the medical cost of treating addicts (and various physical complications like DVT, endocarditis, hepatitis, etc) or the inferior performance of tasks by various workers because they are suffering some degree of impairment from their own drug use.

After all it can be difficult to put the needs of others before your own pleasures sometimes.

Even so, I’m all for decriminalisation.

No-one is arguing that actions resulting from or associated with substance consumption should be free from consequence – – solely that substance consumption in itself is no-one else’s business. If you want to consume heroin, that’s your lookout – if you mug an old lady to get the money for heroin you will be prosecuted for mugging the old lady, and if your performance at work declines then your employer will ask for a chat.

71. the a&e charge nurse

[69] ‘if your performance at work declines then your employer will ask for a chat’ – and it is likely that some employee will medicalises the problem?

It was my addictive personality, or the drugs that made me do it – the treatment infra-structure is dependent, if you will excuse the pun, on such assumptions (although not every body regards problematic drug use as a medical issue).
http://anotherpoliticallyincorrectblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/theodore-dalrymples-junk-medicine.html

@ A&E

Good point.

The flip side of the libertarian view that all men have free will is their duty to exercise with responsibility.

There is no such thing as addiction- only weakness and choice.

73. So Much For Subtlety

57. Richard Carey

It is not a low order issue, as it is concerned with self-ownership, the very principle of individual liberty. I recognise you don’t believe in such things, preferring to abdicate your natural self-ownership to the collective.

It is a lower order issue. Because there are so many other violations of individual liberty.

It also perverts the criminal law, which should be limited to prohibiting one from harming another person or their property, not from regulating personal morality. Not only is this unjust, but it eats away at the necessary principle of individual responsibility for one’s actions.

But the legal code does not even come close to doing what you want it to do. It does regulate personal morality. All the time. You can believe what you want, but if you are serious about changing that, there are many vastly more important issues to deal with first.

Which suggests to me that your libetarianism is a fake. It is drugs you want legal. Not freedom.

pagar

I am not proposing a winning strategy, I am telling what I know to be true. And, if you’re honest, you also know that it is true.

I enjoy so many people around here telling me what is true. You do not know it is true, I certainly do not. You may think you’re a special snowflake, but I am sure a lot of other people do too.

Agree again. But there is no moral obligation to obey it, either.

Yes and no. The law exists for a purpose. You should at least take some of Chesterton’s fence analogy and assume that if the law exists it is not a random event. It has a reason and a cause. You may not know what they are, but they are there. So the precautionary principle would suggest obeying them until you’re sure flouting them would not cause more harm. And we do live in a society where we have to pretend we like our Aunt’s cooking and our asinine cousin’s views on politics are not stupid and so on. That has its own moral value of a sort.

If all drugs were legal it would undermine most of the gangsters that are currently involved in manufacture and distribution. When the Volstead Act was repealed in the US in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits overnight because of competition with legal liquor stores selling alcohol at lower prices.

Would it? Did it? You may be true about the alcohol, but did the criminals go away? The Mafia is still there. It simply found other things to do. The Kennedy family even moved into politics. It did not change them. They did not become nice people. They remained a family of sociopaths. Several women are dead because they were not put in jail. That is the problem – allowing sociopaths to go straight is not necessarily a good thing.

I agree that they have to live with the consequences of the choices they makevand I’m not condoning theft or violence, whatever the circumstances. But making drugs unmanageably expensive through prohibition does not help habitual opiate users to lead better lives.

You are claiming they have no agency, no control, no choice but to break the law. You are denying the central core of your alleged libertarian beliefs. Making drugs expensive has no impact on drug users. They will either continue to use if they can afford it or they will stop. There is nothing preventing them from giving up. But a small minority of people will put their selfish personal pleasures ahead of the well being of others and turn to crime. The high cost of drugs just brings out the inner psychopath. It does not create them.

Suppose a disease destroyed most of the world’s wine crop over the next decade. Tell me, what does a sensible libertarian do when the price of Burgundy soars? Drink less or murder people?

I entirely agree with you that the use of drugs is no excuse whatever for committing real crimes.

Then stop using it as one.

The mugger of the old lady at the ATM is no less guilty because he has a drug habit but the problem with what he does is the appalling crime, not the drug use.

Indeed. The problem is that he is a criminal. The drug laws do not cause crime. Drug users have a choice and most of them, or most potential drug users, choose to obey the law. But the sociopaths among them choose to mug. They probably would have anyway. So it makes no real difference if drugs are legal or not. The muggers belong in prison. All the laws do is give them an excuse for their deviancy that goes down well among liberals.

Because the reason they do so is not because they are sociopaths, as evidenced by their drug use, but because funding their habit is so expensive.

No. Because they have a choice. They can stop using. They can never start. It takes hard work to develop a drug habit. Months and months of hard work. You have to seek out the right people. Learn the right skills. And then get the money. The people who choose this are not passive victims of their habit. They have chosen a life style that appeals to the sociopath within.

As I’ve said I’m not, for a moment, excusing their behaviour but, for most, their crimes of theft and violence are a direct result of prohibition

So yes you are excusing their behaviour. If you didn’t, you would make a clean and clear break between their drug use and their crimes. The two have nothing in common. They do not steal because of prohibition. They are sociopaths and so they break a whole range of laws – including property laws and drug laws.

ukliberty

Laws against drugs are OK by definition – because laws are made by lawmakers who society voted for. But laws against racism are not OK because… SMFS disagrees with them.

Well I don’t agree with them, but I do obey them. And if they are wrong, it is for a whole lot of other reasons.

But I think the main point is that I have neither said drug laws are OK by definition or that laws against racism are not OK. But apart from that, spot on.

74. So Much For Subtlety

65. Richard Carey

I think you’re wrong on the detail but right on the conclusion. The link to mental illness afaik is due to skunk and other high-strength grass. Due to prohibition, it is harvested ‘young’, i.e. when it reaches a certain bulk. At this point the grass has a high level of a particular chemical, which I think is the one most likely to cause mental problems.

As I understand it people have been breeding marijuana to increase the levels of THC or whatever the active chemical is. This is partly caused by criminalisation – if it is illegal, you want a concentrated form of the drug. That is why heroin took over from opium. As you say.

However the question though is what would happen if it was legal? Presumably RJR or whoever would have an interest in stronger forms of the drug too.

pagar

The point, as you know, is one of principle – it is no business of the state to prohibit what an individual may, or may not, choose to take.

So you would not regulate medicines in any way at all? No need for any sort of clinical trials for new drugs?

ukliberty

I don’t think anyone supporting decriminalisation argues that children should be free to consume illicit substances any more than they should be free to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol – children enjoy a different degree of liberty to that enjoyed by adults.

You need to hang out with more drug users. It is a trivial task to find people who actively encourage their children to use marijuana and not all of them are Rastas either. Just as a lot of middle class parents give their children a glass of wine from time to time.

The problem is what do you do about it if drugs are legal? Not very much I expect.

But what consenting adults do to themselves or each other isn’t the law’s business. When their activities do harm to other people the state has a legitimate interest.

Let’s ask Keith Richards’ son if drugs do harm to other people. Oh wait, we can’t. He is dead. You will now have to define harm. If a farmer sells raw milk out the back of his dairy, is that banworthy? If he does not sell the wheat in his field, is that worth a ban? If he says that Black people are unpleasant, is that worth a ban?

By your definition it looks like drug users do harm to others by the dumbed down standards of the Left and thus the State is entitled to ban use.

the a&e charge nurse

After all it can be difficult to put the needs of others before your own pleasures sometimes.

But it shouldn’t. In my experience the best thing a drug addict can do is become a parent. Because in most cases, they do, eventually, put the needs of their children ahead of their own pleasures.

ukliberty

No-one is arguing that actions resulting from or associated with substance consumption should be free from consequence

The Courts are full of lawyers who argue exactly that – and the bench full of judges that seem to agree.

if you mug an old lady to get the money for heroin you will be prosecuted for mugging the old lady

Although there is a push for Drug Courts and the like to make sure drug users will not be prosecuted for mugging anyone. Which is nice for them I am sure.

pagar

There is no such thing as addiction- only weakness and choice.

You are getting there, you really are. Fine. Drug users are weak. They have made a bad choice. What choice should they have made? What should the rest of us do about it?

@SMFS

we do live in a society where we have to pretend we like our Aunt’s cooking and our asinine cousin’s views on politics are not stupid and so on.

Why? That is the attitude that allows our oppressors to succeed. We eat less well and allow idiots to dictate policy.

. Making drugs expensive has no impact on drug users. They will either continue to use if they can afford it or they will stop. There is nothing preventing them from giving up. But a small minority of people will put their selfish personal pleasures ahead of the well being of others and turn to crime.

I take your point on this but the state making taking drugs unnecessarily expensive through prohibition exacerbates the problem of crime. Ask any policeman and he’ll tell you the same.

Drug users have a choice and most of them, or most potential drug users, choose to obey the law. But the sociopaths among them choose to mug. The two have nothing in common. They do not steal because of prohibition.

So you agree that drug use, in itself, is not pernicious providing the user does harm to nobody else? I don’t believe we are far apart on this because that’s all I’m trying to say.

76. Richard Carey

@ Pagar,

I think it’s fair to look at cannabis separately, due to the fact that anyone can grow a couple of plants for personal use if they want to take the trouble, and this is not the case with most other drugs, so it would be relatively easy to decriminalise or legalise this, without the head-scratching about how the drug trade should be regulated.

I understand the principle involved, but it’s all hypothetical and the present government shows no inclination to make any ‘courageous’ policy changes in this area.

77. Richard Carey

@ SMFS,

“… However the question though is what would happen if it was legal? Presumably RJR or whoever would have an interest in stronger forms of the drug too.”

I think it would be like alcohol; quality would prevail over mere potency. To take beer as an example, not that many people drink Special Brew, do they? I think it would be the same.

SMFS,

No-one is arguing that actions resulting from or associated with substance consumption should be free from consequence

The Courts are full of lawyers who argue exactly that – and the bench full of judges that seem to agree.

Lawyers defending their clients? My god!

You’re quite the buffoon, aren’t you?

SMFS,

If [the farmer] does not sell the wheat in his field, is that worth a ban?

Eh?

By your definition

What definition?

67

I agree with the notion of ‘consenting adults’ having the ability to do what they wish but as I have pointed-out upthread, drugs have a psychotropic effect which changes the way people think. So even the most rational, self-interested and liberal thinking person has their ability to rationalise, at best, disabled. Of course, alcohol also has this effect, but because we already have substances which can cause harm to the person and others, isn’t really a good argument for adding more into the mix. What we know is that prohibition in its current form does not work, but then would you risk laissez-faire? We need a proper debate based on evidence and what can be done rather than just repeat the mantra of a particular political stance.

Sorry, but I’m confused about your position. On the one hand you say adults should have the liberty (presumably you meant that instead of “ability”) to do what they wish but on the other hand you seem to suggest they shouldn’t when it comes to activities that risk brain function.

81

Well yes, if you brought existing illegal drugs into the same category as existing legal drugs, which do affect brain functioning, there are quite a lot of controls such as licensing, age restrictions, testing, pharmaceuticals require registered prescribers ect. Indeed it might be argued that the illegal drugs trade is as near to laissez-faire as is possible – no corporation or income tax, no health and safety no age or other restrictions, there is a massive amount of state intervention which is restrictive even with legalized substances.

So, when you talk about legalizing certain substances, do you mean laissez-faire or do you mean that those substances are treated in the same way as existing legal substances which have a psychotropic effect?

83. So Much For Subtlety

77. Richard Carey

I think it would be like alcohol; quality would prevail over mere potency. To take beer as an example, not that many people drink Special Brew, do they? I think it would be the same.

I would think that potency is vastly outselling quality when it comes to alcohol in the UK. Vastly.

ukliberty

Lawyers defending their clients? My god! You’re quite the buffoon, aren’t you?

I have to work on it. So for the record, when you said no one you did not mean actually, literally, no one? You meant no one except for a whole bunch of lawyers and judges who regularly use drug use as an excuse for crime?

ukliberty

What definition?

Your definition of what impacts other people. You said the State had a right to act when it affects other people.

steveb, apart from the law and the police being opposed to illicit substances, yes I suppose the trade is laissez-faire…

So, when you talk about legalizing certain substances, do you mean laissez-faire or do you mean that those substances are treated in the same way as existing legal substances which have a psychotropic effect?

I’m not sure. I’m OK with substances being regulated – aspirin should be aspirin, not something nasty or useless. I’m not particularly conversant with the detail of such things, I’m talking about the principles behind them; do we have the right to interfere (some would say a duty) and if so why, when and in what way? There are many many activities that risk brain function, so if we’re interfering with some things that risk brain function (drugs) but not other things that risk brain function (mountain climbing), why is that? That’s my approach.

SMFS,

except for a whole bunch of lawyers and judges who regularly use drug use as an excuse for crime?

Name them.

Your definition of what impacts other people. You said the State had a right to act when it affects other people.

I said “When [consenting adults] activities do harm to other people the state has a legitimate interest.”

You bizarrely replied, Let’s ask Keith Richards’ son if drugs do harm to other people. Oh wait, we can’t. He is dead. You will now have to define harm. If a farmer sells raw milk out the back of his dairy, is that banworthy? If he does not sell the wheat in his field, is that worth a ban? If he says that Black people are unpleasant, is that worth a ban?

By your definition it looks like drug users do harm to others by the dumbed down standards of the Left and thus the State is entitled to ban use.

I hadn’t in fact supplied a definition of harm – you had inferred my definition of harm (apparently including a farmer not selling his wheat).

Do keep up.

84

It is a fact, whether you agree or not, that substances designed specifically for their psychotropic properties are controlled and supply is restricted by a host of laws. Occasionally substances such as glue and mushrooms, which have psychotropic effects, are able to be ‘consumed’ legally and alcohol is available, but under strict controls.
Therefore, the state is already deciding who can consume what and the circumstances and conditions of consumption, so when we look at lifting the ‘illicit’ status of substances, which can already be consumed, but within the government’s strict guidelines, we need to be clear about how it will work.

I don’t have to be converted to the idea that the war on drugs is lost and that we are wasting a great deal of time and resources pursuing the matter, but I rather think that the views of SMFS are held by a large number of people and those are the ones who have to be convinced.

86. Charlieman

@85. steveb: “…but I rather think that the views of SMFS are held by a large number of people and those are the ones who have to be convinced.”

A lot of people hold similar views to SMFS because they have not been exposed to counter arguments or asked to consider the fragility of human beings. SMFS is obtuse and won’t budge any ground; most citizens are more considerate.

The drugs reform scenario is akin (but not parallel) to gay rights reform in the 1960s. It took a load of lawyers to jump ship from the establishment and say “this is hurting a lot of people who are not harming others”. The drug reform movement is going in a similar direction, and medics, lawyers and *ologists are jumping ship from the status quo. The professionals aren’t jumping very far; they’re just asking for a new debate.

87. So Much For Subtlety

84. ukliberty

You bizarrely replied

Sorry but how is asking you to define harm bizarre if you assert your belief that the State has a right to ban if it harms other people?

I hadn’t in fact supplied a definition of harm – you had inferred my definition of harm (apparently including a farmer not selling his wheat).

Which is why I asked you to define that harm. Using a standard American example of a farmer who was, indeed, held to have engaged in interstate commerce by not selling his maize. I did not infer your definition. I asked for it. That is why I wrote:

“You will now have to define harm. If a farmer sells raw milk out the back of his dairy, is that banworthy? If he does not sell the wheat in his field, is that worth a ban? If he says that Black people are unpleasant, is that worth a ban?”

See the request for a definition? See all the little question marks after each of those sentences? That is not inferring anything. That is asking you to define what you mean by harm.

Which you have continued to fail to do.

88. So Much For Subtlety

86. Charlieman

A lot of people hold similar views to SMFS because they have not been exposed to counter arguments or asked to consider the fragility of human beings. SMFS is obtuse and won’t budge any ground; most citizens are more considerate.

Whatever else you can say, I, like pretty much everyone else in Britain, has been exposed to the counter arguments. In fact it would be hard to find someone who continues to defend the status quo in the mainstream British media.

Your failure to convince is not evidence of my, or most people’s, obtuseness. It is a sign of the weakness of your arguments.

The drugs reform scenario is akin (but not parallel) to gay rights reform in the 1960s. It took a load of lawyers to jump ship from the establishment and say “this is hurting a lot of people who are not harming others”.

Except drug use does harm people. Ask Keith Richards’ son. What is more, it is irrelevant as the problem is not in the drug use, but in the character of people who use drugs. The drug use is just a useful marker for us to spot the sort of people who belong in jail. And should be in jail under any law.

89. Charlieman

@88. So Much For Subtlety: “Your failure to convince is not evidence of my, or most people’s, obtuseness. It is a sign of the weakness of your arguments.”

I did not say that most people are obtuse. I said that you are obtuse (and I now say that you are obfuscatory) and that most people are considerate. Do not twist my words.

86

I disagree that the prohibition of certain psychotropic drugs is similar to the old laws on homosexuality. Consumption of most of the psychotropic drugs commonly called ‘street drugs’ is ‘allowed’ by the state but with strict controls. According street drugs the same status as legalized drugs actually tightens restriction, it is so much easier to acquire illicit substances.

The real problem is that this isn’t appreciated by many of the anti-prohibition lobby so no real framework of legalization is proposed, which doesn’t really lead to confidence in the argument.

steveb,

According street drugs the same status as legalized drugs actually tightens restriction, it is so much easier to acquire illicit substances.

It is easy to acquire substances that are claimed to be illicit.

It’s interesting that you suggest the current situation is less restrictive than if substances were regulated/controlled. Maybe in practice you are right, surely depending on the quality of supply, but in theory it is not is it?

The real problem is that this isn’t appreciated by many of the anti-prohibition lobby so no real framework of legalization is proposed, which doesn’t really lead to confidence in the argument.

It is there if you care to look:
http://www.tdpf.org.uk/AboutUs_Publications.htm

SMFS @87, you didn’t “ask” for a definition – that would have been civil. You didn’t write, “what’s your definition of harm?” And then you wrote, “By your definition it looks like drug users do harm to others by the dumbed down standards of the Left and thus the State is entitled to ban use.” By my definition that I hadn’t supplied? Which is why I said you inferred a definition. If not inferred then imputed or insinuated.

But whatever. Let’s pretend you did “ask” what’s my definition of harm. Let’s start with the dictionary definition of harm – physical injury. I believe the state has a legitimate interest when a person does non-consensual physical injury to another.

You’ll respond with something along the lines of, “what about Keith Richards’ son and Colombian growers?”

And I’ll say something like, if you mean Tara Richards who died of SIDS, I don’t know that it’s connected to drugs; if they gave him drugs they should be banged up, if his mother consumed drugs while she was pregnant I think it was wrong of her and there ought to be a law against it. As for the Colombian growers, maybe there would be less harm if illicit drugs weren’t prohibited or a billion-dollar business.

91

I did not say that all of the anti-prohibition lobby do not understand the complex issues relating to legalization of certain substances (I am talking primarily about the UK)

Firstly, how would the supply chain work, would it require registered prescribers as with legalized drugs. If that’s the case, would those prescribers have to function under the current guidelines for prescription eg taking into account contra-indications or would this be over-ridden and if so, what about accountability.
If subject to the same existing criteria, this would surely create another illegal market, most existing long-term addicts are actually deemed too unwell to consume the drugs they are already taking.
Many existing drug-users cannot afford their requirements so they carry-out crime to pay for their habit, would the taxpayer subsidize this. In actual markets, those who cannot afford the products cannot purchase but addiction overrides the ‘rational, self-interested individual’ who then makes poor choices.
Currently the NHS treats a massive number of addicts who are also offenders, this is often offered as a alternative to punishment. You would be surprised at how little is offered to people who are addicted to prescription medicines and often who have to resort to illicit supplies, would such services be extended?

These are just a few points which need to be addressed IMO, and until a considered strategy is put before the public, it will be the opinions of SMFS which will prevail.

94. Charlieman

@90. steveb: “I disagree that the prohibition of certain psychotropic drugs is similar to the old laws on homosexuality.”

Apologies for not making myself clear. My comparison is that 1960s gay law reformers and year 2000+ drug law reformers are drawn from similar communities and for similar motivations (ie to minimise harm).

Drug reform, however it turns out to be, will be a big package. It will be about permissiveness and licensing. It will be about education and responsibility. It will not be a green light for bacchanalia.

The letter to The Times requests a debate about drug reform. It does not proffer solutions.

steveb,

These are just a few points which need to be addressed IMO, and until a considered strategy is put before the public, it will be the opinions of SMFS which will prevail.

I don’t think anyone in this parish kids himself that SMFS or his ilk would ever be persuaded. All we can hope for is that they gradually die off.

I question whether sufficient of the public would be persuaded by a considered strategy, too. And I don’t mean a majority, because that’s not how our democracy works, but sufficient to persuade sufficient legislators the law should be changed.

Consider the furore about David Nutt and the people who subsequently resigned essentially because they discovered that the ostensible purpose of the ABC system (harm reduction) was inferior to political expedience.

With regard to your other comments, yes you make good points and again I am not conversant with the detail. I’m talking about the principles behind the system – the details flow from there. IOW is this a crime issue or a public health issue? When do we interfere with someone’s liberty? Why is mountain climbing with a 1 in 300 chance of dying fine but illicit substances aren’t? Etc.

96. So Much For Subtlety

92. ukliberty

you didn’t “ask” for a definition – that would have been civil.

A question, much less a series of questions, looks a lot like asking to me.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of harm – physical injury. I believe the state has a legitimate interest when a person does non-consensual physical injury to another.

So you object to Racial Vilification laws? All restraints on a free market in labour? Laws against prostitution? Laws against child porn involving cartoon characters?

if his mother consumed drugs while she was pregnant I think it was wrong of her and there ought to be a law against it.

Sorry but you think that a foetus is a person in a legal sense to the extent that harm against it should be a crime? How do you feel about driving a metal spike into a foetus’ head and sucking their brains out?

As for the Colombian growers, maybe there would be less harm if illicit drugs weren’t prohibited or a billion-dollar business.

Maybe. And yet the people who are involved in the drug trade would not become nice people. They would still be vile murdering psychopaths. And the drug trade is one of the smaller problems that Columbia has. Columbia shows that ignoring the drug trade does not make everyone nice and middle class. So it is unlikely there would be less harm. Just not as well funded harm.

95. ukliberty

I question whether sufficient of the public would be persuaded by a considered strategy, too. And I don’t mean a majority, because that’s not how our democracy works, but sufficient to persuade sufficient legislators the law should be changed.

An odd view of democracy but considering the death penalty you are probably right. However it is an interesting admission of defeat that you think your arguments and logic will never be able to win this debate.

Consider the furore about David Nutt and the people who subsequently resigned essentially because they discovered that the ostensible purpose of the ABC system (harm reduction) was inferior to political expedience.

I am not sure that is what the Nutt case proved. But given the all powerful logic of your position it is very odd that no one else can see it isn’t it?

IOW is this a crime issue or a public health issue?

I am perfectly happy for this to be treated as a public health issue. Let us lock drug users up until they are cured.

When do we interfere with someone’s liberty? Why is mountain climbing with a 1 in 300 chance of dying fine but illicit substances aren’t? Etc.

Mountain climbing does not hurt anyone else.

SMFS,

An odd view of democracy but considering the death penalty you are probably right. However it is an interesting admission of defeat that you think your arguments and logic will never be able to win this debate.

I didn’t admit that at all.

And it is how democracy works. You don’t win, iow get a law passed, by being correct you win by persuading sufficient legislators (over sufficient time / over sufficient ‘divisions’). Try having a think about how a law is passed in this country. Bear in mind 80% of Parliamentary time is controlled by the Government of the day.

http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/

I am not sure that is what the Nutt case proved. But given the all powerful logic of your position it is very odd that no one else can see it isn’t it?

It isn’t odd at all. People have different views about the morality of interfering with the liberty of others. As I said earlier in the thread, some people even think it a duty. If two people have different premises it is quite possible they will reach different conclusions.

Mountain climbing does not hurt anyone else.

The UK’s drug classification system is not merely based on “hurting anyone else” it is also ostensibly based on harm to the user.

Consider the furore about David Nutt and the people who subsequently resigned essentially because they discovered that the ostensible purpose of the ABC system (harm reduction) was inferior to political expedience.

I am not sure that is what the Nutt case proved.

They got rid of Nutt because his / ACMD advice and lectures conflicted with government policy. IOW government policy conflicted with advice from the government-appointed advisers. Maybe Nutt was in the wrong – but afaik no-one has shown that his output conflicted with any rules. He was a political embarrassment not because he was incorrect but because government policy didn’t match up with what he – an adviser – was saying.

OK that’s one guy. But then Dr Les King resigned. He said the government had denied Nutt’s freedom of expression and it consistently ignored ACMD advice. Professor Marion Walker resigned too – no comment from her AFAIK but apparently she agreed with King. Then Dr John Marsden, Dr Ian Ragan and Dr Simon Campbell resigned following a meeting with then Home Secretary Alan Johnson, seeking reassurance about the ACMD’s role – presumably they were not reassured. Then Dr Polly Taylor resigned, saying “I feel that there is little more we can do to describe the importance of ensuring that advice is not subjected to a desire to please ministers or the mood of the day’s press.”

Shortly afterwards the government got rid of the legal requirement for the ACMD to have at least one expert from each of the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and chemistry. Not that there are no such people serving on the council today – there are. But it’s some signal isn’t it.

On the one hand you can see the government’s point: you can’t have government advisers contradicting government policy. But on the other hand a government will look foolish if it says it bases policy on scientific advice from these advisers it has appointed but the advisers then effectively say er no we don’t think the policy is much cop.


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