Monday, 2 August 2010

War on Drugs?

I wanted to make the follow up to the 100th post about something interesting so I was pleased Channel 4 gave me some material in their documentary about the War on Drugs. I wrote quite a while back about this briefly after the sacking of David Nutt which I'm afraid was one of the very low points of the last government although our political class is so unmoving on this issue that I fear there weren't many in parliament who opposed his sacking.

Obviously, the documentary only gave one view which was a little annoying but from everything else I've seen I broadly agree with what it was saying, the so called 'War on Drugs' is a massive failure and far from doing good its actually fuelling a vicious circle of criminalisation and underground drug rings.

It's really bizarre just how little discussion the whole area of drugs is given by anyone in power. They talk about it, but they rarely listen to anything that doesn't confirm what they want to believe. The war on drugs isn't being won, estimates put the amount of drugs seized at 1% of the total consumed, that's pitiful. The police are working themselves into the ground and all they can seize is 1%. But I don't blame the police, I blame the people who expect so much and refuse to shift their opinion.

This is a ranking from 2006 of the relative harm of each drug, its pretty surprising reading, especially if you compare where smoking and alcohol comes in the list:

Now compare that to how our current system ranks them, alcohol and cigarettes are freely available whilst LSD and ecstacy are considered to be much worse.

So what do we get for confiscating 1% of drugs, many of which are less harmful than alcohol? We get massive criminal activity, violent crime and whole areas of people cast into the revolving door of a prison system. It's truly ludicrous.

People who now me will know I'm possibly one of the least likely to get involved in drugs, so the fact that despite this I could very happily get my hands on a whole range of different drugs very easily if I so wanted shows you the scale of the problem we have at the moment.

But don't we have a scientific body which advices the government on drugs policy? Indeed, and a fat lot of good they are. To say they aren't independent would be the understatement of the year. The last time the body had a chair who decided to defy the government and speak based on scientific fact (imagine that!) he was sacked, all in an attempt to appease those strange bunch of readers the Daily Mail attracts, who think locking anyone up for less than 10 years for not eating their veg is akin to going soft on crime.

I'm not asking for full legalisation (although I think some legalisation is being cried out for) but I'm simply asking for people to be able to debate it properly without others immediately whining that they've gone 'soft'. It is truly appalling that no-one at the top has the balls to stand up and say let's look at the evidence rather than carry on with this shambolic playing to the media.

We can't help addicts by criminalising them, and we don't solve the problem by making the dealers very wealthy men.

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