Decriminalising drug use

Lord Norton

I see that Sir Ian Gilmore, the retiring president of the Royal College of Physicians, has endorsed the call made by Nicholas Green QC, the chairman of the Bar Council, to consider the decriminalisation of drug use.  He believes that this could drastically cut crime and addicts’ health problems.

Drug taking is a mug’s game – harming not only the taker but, under the present system, many others as well – but making the practice a criminal offence appears to cause as many if not more problems than it solves.  The best force to reducing drug use is likely to be educative and relying on peer pressure, as has happened with cigarette use. 

Sir Ian Gilmore’s call reinforces the case for a Royal Commission, or something similar, on our drugs law, though ultimately only action at international level will make much difference.

63 comments for “Decriminalising drug use

  1. baronessmurphy
    17/08/2010 at 4:49 pm

    I add my strong support here both to Sir Ian Gilmore’s appeal and to Lord Norton’s suggestions. We simply haven’t got our response to drugs right yet. We’ve blogged about it before. I hope the Government will not dismiss again the many calls for a serious review.

    • 18/08/2010 at 11:14 am

      I suspect the real problem that any elected politician has a nervous reaction to any response other than “Try harder! Tougher sentences!”. This is no doubt due to the media (no paragons of virtue when it comes to drug taking) giving an editorial kicking to anyone who raises their heads above the parapet to suggest exploring other options. Politicians themselves aren’t blameless as accusing opponents of being soft on drugs is an easy score.

      I would welcome a comprehensive Royal Commission on the subject but I suspect the next few years are already taken up with arguing over the budget/deficit. Certainly there seems to be an appetite for reforming drug laws on the your freedom website. It’s just a shame so many of the arguments there aren’t very coherent.

  2. Chris K
    17/08/2010 at 5:22 pm

    It’s an idea that needs careful consideration. There is a case for it because the present system punishes not only the drug-users, but innocent people caught up by the crime associated with it. From petty crime upwards to gang/gun crime all have roots in the drug crime world.

    Perhaps if drugs could be sold legally, with tax/VAT, by reputable retailers such as chemists, and reputably source (which is where international co-operation may be needed) then the problems would be far less. Strength and what they are ‘cut’ with could also be controlled. If done properly then scum drugdealers and their associates could be out of business overnight.

    Unfortunately, I suspect the present crop of politicians lack the cojones to give it any time at all. It’s far easier to criminalise things and pretend that it solves the problems than it is to make a case for legalising things, and having the ‘forces of hell’ unleashed on you by people who automatically think “drugs = bad = ban”

  3. Carl.H
    17/08/2010 at 5:58 pm

    So these unemployable addicts are able to buy drugs legally ? Where do they get the money ?

    The level of damage to our young is extreme at present, paranoia and depression is common, a lot of it through drug abuse. Legalising drugs will not lessen crime, well only in the context it will make drug taking legal. Cocaine abuse is prevelent in our clubs and pubs, it is the drug of choice of many a discontented young female and leads to all manner of damage to society.

    Legalisation would lead to more children trying it, more becoming hooked, more mental illness and more crime not less.

    I, as a parent, doubt I would be able to sustain the influence over my children should drugs be legalised.

    Because the law is failing is no reason to give up on it.

    • 18/08/2010 at 12:08 pm

      So these unemployable addicts are able to buy drugs legally ? Where do they get the money ?

      Addicts are unemployable? Sir, you have obviously never met a journalist.

      As to “where do they get the money,” in the worst case they’ll get it in exactly the same place they get it now that they are able to buy it illegally. “Illegal” is not the same thing as “unavailable”. On the other hand, legal drugs are cheaper than illegal ones, as a general rule, so even in a worst-case scenario where legalising drug use changes nothing except the price we’re still getting some measure of harm-reduction out of it, aren’t we?

      Because the law is failing is no reason to give up on it.

      On the contrary. Bad, stupid, harmful laws that do nothing to solve the problems they purport to solve should be discarded at a moment’s notice. Laws that cause harm in order to send a message to your kids that drugs are bad are less than useless, not least because your kids will be as clued up as everyone else that THC isn’t any more risky than alcohol.

      • 18/08/2010 at 12:10 pm

        Argh! After a few weeks away I *always* forget that bloomin blockquote failure.

        Why, Hansard? Why must you strip out this useful HTML tag?

  4. Dave H
    17/08/2010 at 6:04 pm

    I’ve always thought that rules should be relaxed with the emphasis placed on responsible use, and I’d apply the same reasoning to alcohol consumption.

    Give people the freedom to do what they want, and have severe penalties (with minimal excuses allowed) for those who commit criminal acts or are otherwise anti-social while under the influence of a drug. Something along the lines of two or three times the penalty for the same offence when drug-free. Anyone imprisoned for a drug-related offence loses access to drugs while in prison, and I’d add in a clause or two about paying NHS costs for overdoses and being liable for damages if loss is caused to others, and to allow employers some rights in the case of a persistently drugged-up employee.

    If you allow distribution of drugs via government centres then they can be taxed, the purity can be controlled and those who really need help stand more chance of being spotted by workers at the centres.

    The big unknown, of course, is how many extra people will end up as addicts because they tried it out of curiosity, and how many will avoid drugs once they’re no longer illegal.

  5. 17/08/2010 at 7:31 pm

    Lord Norton,
    What is the legislative history of alcohol regulaion in the UK and its constituent realms before they were the UK? Should it be kept in mind and in addition joined to review of the Roman Empire and tribal law before these realms existed? How long would it take to reproduce that record?

    Is there an argument for more is more here?
    Do something with international law, the European Union, treaty partners and local councils or do not consider decriminalizing. It seem impossible in my country but can a conservative choose not to be a legislative and administrative minimalist in your country?

    Some problems may call for large solutions or no solution at all.

  6. Senex
    17/08/2010 at 8:00 pm

    As an aside, its not only peers that receive letters patent, so do Queen’s Council appointments. Does a view expressed formally by a QC represent the view of the Monarchy as tacit approval for primary legislation?

    Ref: Modern Reforms’s_Counsel

  7. 17/08/2010 at 8:01 pm

    “The best force to reducing drug use is likely to be educative and relying on peer pressure, as has happened with cigarette use.”

    Err, don’t you mean, ‘as USED’ to happen with cigarette use?

    Reduction in smoker prevalence has stalled since the tactic changed to bullying and bans … as advocated, ironically enough, by Sr Ian Gilmore.

  8. Carl.H
    17/08/2010 at 8:30 pm

    Let`s look at three types of common drugs taken and the adverse effects that people are wanting the Government to legalise:

    We have gone someway into making tobacco an illegal drug, it cannot be taken in public confined places, yet people now call for this ?

    Decriminilisation will not stop the pushers who are generally open 24/7. New drugs are constantly appearing, it would take time to produce, package and sell them. Drug manufacturing plants would become the subject of criminal activity, as would transportation and retail outlets.

    Holland who legalised some drug use in cafe`s still have to police and the law is still being broken.

    Can any Government withstand the furore from parents and media of a child who dies, possibly underage, because of legitimisation ?

    Are the Police equipped enough to deal with drivers under the influence of drugs ? Is the Government willing to accept responsibility for deaths due to drug abuse, on the roads and at work etc.? Can industry cope with sick days due to drug abuse ?

    Is the Government prepared to be complicit in the possible slow suicide of some whilst resisting moves to voluntary euphanasia ?

    “The best force to reducing drug use is likely to be educative and relying on peer pressure, as has happened with cigarette use. ”

    Cigarette use especially in the young has I believe risen somewhat, which maybe partially due to marijuana use. Tobacco is one of the most commonly smuggled drugs and is widely available, evading taxation. This will skew figures on smoking to a degree.

    The production and packaging of legitimate drugs and of course normal taxation may infact mean that pushers and smugglers can undercut legitimate products. The illegal products may contain substances that are more harmful, being cut further to make the production cheaper. There are already a number of counterfeit products available widely.

    The concept maybe in good heart, the practicalities make it impossible.

    • 18/08/2010 at 7:02 pm

      Carl H

      I fail to see how anything you’ve described is made *better* by existing laws. In fact, you seem to be describing the situation as it stands and saying “look at the havoc that would be wreaked if we were to change the law!” The havoc is, at present, being wreaked. This indicates to me that, at the absolute worst case, nothing would change except that we wouldn’t waste all this time, effort and money trying to change something that cannot be changed.

      Getting high isn’t just a human thing to do, it’s a mammal thing to do. Hell, it’s probably a vertebrate thing to do. I don’t know that crocodiles and sea bass *don’t* have some equivalent to coca, coffee and marula that they use to unwind after a hard day’s aquatic living, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did. This all indicates that if what is getting your panties in a wad is that people might be getting high, your panties, they will stay very much in that wadded position.

      Now I appreciate that the mechanisms of state have to do something about harm reduction and, yes, the drugs which are currently illegal can do harm just the same as the drugs which are currently legal can. But never in history has making drugs illegal prevented people from doing them, so let’s rid ourselves of the notion that one day Sisyphus will outsmart the gods about that particular boulder, eh? Let’s use these mechanisms on something with a bit of a point to it.

      I’m sorry if the idea that people might get high and you might not have legal sanction for your disapproval scares you, but I’d rather not waste money pursuing pointless moral crusades to appease you over the issue.

  9. 17/08/2010 at 11:40 pm

    “…educative and relying on peer pressure, as has happened with cigarette use.”

    But I still have to breathe other people’s cigarette smoke as I walk down the street, and if I open my windows, drifting in from the neighbour who has taken to smoking outside.

    If this was one of the drugs that was presently illegal, I wouldn’t have to hold my breath as I walked down the street and I could call the police to report the neighbour.

    Ultimately, do what you like with drugs law. I don’t care if foolish people want to kill themselves. As long as I, and all other innocent third parties, do not have our quality of life ruined by their passive effects.

    • 19/08/2010 at 11:11 am

      Do you also hold your breath when your neighbour drives past in their car? I assume not, because you probably have a car and the particulate matter that comes out the back of that is deemed by you to be necessary to a decent life, so you don’t feel morally superior to your car-driving neighbours.

      Of course, this does not change the fact that “passive exhaust” is around the same risk to your health as “active smoking” – a moderate smoker and someone who lives in the middle of a built up urban environment with lots of traffic run around the same risks for lung problems. Someone who merely smells someone else’s cigarettes as they walk down the street suffers the same harm as if that person had merely forgotten to wear deodorant that day. They might find it unpleasant, but the basis for calling the police would be, well, petty and vindictive and a shocking waste of the resources of the state.

      You’ve done us a service, though, by reminding us that those who campaign against commonsense legalisation of perfectly reasonable narcotics are, for all their appeals to public health, mostly just busybodies who don’t like other people enjoying themelves in manners they disapprove of.

      • 22/08/2010 at 1:59 am

        McDuff, if I breathe in someone’s cigarette smoke as I walk past, it makes me cough, and if I’m exposed to it for longer, it makes me feel sick. I can smell tobacco smoke drifting through my windows at home, I can never smell vehicle exhaust. If an asthma sufferer breathes in smoke, this can trigger an attack. I remember reading a Lords debate in Hansard where Viscount Simon said his asthma is triggered when he’s in his car and someone in a car in the next lane is smoking. Note that all the other cars with their engines running do not have the same effect:
        I can certainly tell when someone in a passing car is smoking, even when their windows are closed.

        The stats about moderate smokers being only at as much risk as someone in a built-up area are dubious and uncited. Smoking kills between a third and two thirds of smokers. A third of people in cities do not die from traffic pollution.

        The suggestion of calling the police was in the hypothetical situation where tobacco smoking was illegal. Environmental health will investigate where it constitutes a nuisance, though. And I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police in the event of cannabis smoke, if polite requests to neighbours to ensure I can’t smell it were to no avail.

        Anyway, why shouldn’t I be able to enjoy relaxing in my home, enjoying the fresh outdoor air on a summer’s day? Why should a smoker’s so-called right over-ride mine?

        And no, I don’t own a car.

        • 22/08/2010 at 1:37 pm

          100% of people in cities die eventually. As to whether they die of traffic pollution or not, it certainly shifts their life expectancy down the actuarial tables.

          Also, your heightened reactions to cigarette smoke speak either of a psychosomatic response or an unusual sensitivity to it, far outside the norm. Most people are perfectly capable of being around cigarette smoke, especially in an open air situation, without gagging or feeling nauseous. I appreciate your problems, though, I really do. I have a similar response to cheap deodorant. There’s something in it that makes me sneeze like the dickens if I’m around someone who’s doused themselves in Lynx Africa or the like. Oh, and don’t get me started on shellfish. I gag a little bit if I even see someone else eating prawns on the shell. Those eyes! Jesus, it’s horrifying.

          Still, I’ve learned, over time, to get over myself. I’m aided, of course, by the lack of prudish and moralising government agencies supporting me in my distaste for Lynx deodorant and those horrible black beady eyes looking at me from someone else’s dinner plate. My burden to bear, they said when I tried to start up a “ban all prawns” think tank. And guess what: they were right! Turns out that if you live in a world unfortunately populated with other human beings, occasionally you just have to suck it up and get on with life.

          Or, I guess, you could convince someone in government that your right to sit in the air outside your house entirely uninterrupted by any smells that don’t emanate from approved sources totally overrules anyone else’s right to have a cigarette with their barbecue. That is, if you could tolerate the smell of the barbecue in the first place.

  10. Carl.H
    17/08/2010 at 11:46 pm

    I think MEP`s may come into play with this ideaology:

    “The Member States of the EU are obliged to acceed to the UN conventions on drugs. These international treaties are in effect made part of the EU legal basis. ”

    Looks like yet another thing taken out of our democratically elected Governments hands.

    • 18/08/2010 at 7:03 pm

      MEPs are democratically elected.

      • Croft
        19/08/2010 at 3:20 pm

        Neither the Commission nor the President etc are.

        As to Carl I suspect the still extant laws in Holland suggest this is not applied as you suggest.

        • 19/08/2010 at 7:05 pm

          And neither is the House of Lords, so I’m not sure what the fooferaw is.

          • Croft
            20/08/2010 at 11:17 am

            False comparison. The Lords is the junior chamber easily overturned by the democratic. The Commission and it’s political leaders are exceedingly powerful with very limited accountability. The MEPs ultimately only have a nuclear option to remove the commission as a whole.

          • 20/08/2010 at 4:31 pm

            Sort of like the Cabinet and the senior Civil Service, then, filled with all kinds of people with “Lord” and “Sir” in front of their names?

            This is not to mention, of course, that it’s a UN thing and that the main pressure is coming from the US, with its utterly pointless and yet . Nope, we’ll just blame the EU’s role in it for everything! Because it’s “undemocratic” guv’nor. Even the bits of it that aren’t. Because they’re *next door* to some bits that are, see? And if there’s one thing we Britishers won’t stand, it’s undemocratic institutions. Or foreigners. One of the two, anyway.

        • McD
          19/08/2010 at 8:06 pm

          They may not be applied in Holland, but they’re still on the books. ALL signatories to the UN ‘Narcotics’ Conventions, which in effect means any country which wishes to trade with other countries, have undertaken and are obliged to have criminal statutes to hurt and ‘punish’ drug users on the books.

          The comment above about this issue being beyond the power of UK governments and law to address is quite right. Nothing can be done to make any real change to the situation by the UK alone. If I’m not mistaken, the real reason for the most recent re-classification of cannabis was a mere mention of sanctions by the UN. (See for some detail.) However much we may like to pretend it is within our power to do something about this, the only way anything of any real import can be undertaken is by renouncing the UN Conventions. Could any sane person with any more than half a dozen brain cells to bang together at any given time seriously suggest the Americans would allow this? No, they will be first and then they will allow (or force) others to follow. If you try to overtake the leader, you will be bitch-slapped down. That’s what the politicians know and are afraid of. Can you imagine how acutely embarrassing that would be? Now you know why no politician would ever consider it.

          So, all there really is to do now is to pray California leads the way in November in the same way as it led when it became the first State to criminalise cannabis. This is what the Americans are waiting for: when so many States have rejected the conventions, then the Federal Government may get it sorted out at the UN and we may be given some relief. Until then, you may as well save your breath. There’s nothing of any real significance you can do while the UN Conventions remain in force.

          • 20/08/2010 at 11:15 am

            Low-grade identity theft? What the deuce?

          • butcombeman
            07/03/2011 at 2:12 pm

            You say:
            “If I’m not mistaken, the real reason for the most recent re-classification of cannabis was a mere mention of sanctions by the UN”.

            You are mistaken, the pressure within government came from the Department of Health and particularly the National director of Mental Health Professor Appleby.

            His views combined with those of other professionsls in the field, like Professor Robin Murray, swung the government. The concern was about those increasing numbers of young people being treated for mental problems associated with cannabis taking.

            Profesor Nutt, who was on the ACMD at the time, makes a song and dance about it but usually forgets to say that the ACMD was itself not unanimous on the issue of classification.

            Professor Murray said of Professor Nutt in this debate, that “he plays fast and loose with the statisticvs”.

            Of course Professor Murray IS a real expert on cannabis.

            Classification may not mean too much but getting cannabis downgraded against the emerging science had become totemic for the legalisation lobby.

  11. djb13
    18/08/2010 at 2:31 am

    How liberal for a Conservative peer; perhaps the coalition has been more effective than we thought?

    I jest of course.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/08/2010 at 11:28 am

      djb13: I take your point, though I actually approach this from a Conservative perspective. If the law is to be effective it has to be enforceable.

  12. 18/08/2010 at 11:20 am

    A couple of points to consider, mainly aimed at Carl.H

    Decrimilisation and Legalisation are two significantly different options. Decrimilisation would allow government to license and control manufacture of drugs with possession for personal use no longer leading to prosecution. Dealing or manufacturing your own supply would still be illegal. I think this is similar to the current law on distilled spirits. There would still be checks and legal requirements similar to those required to sell alcohol and cigarettes. Legalisation would allow a much wider production and distribution, very much unregulated.

    There are benefits to decrimilisation that you may not have considered such as removing the stigma of being treated/seen as a criminal that can stop addicts asking for help.

    In terms of policing drug-driving, we already have procedures in place to deal with these issues, they would become as standard as an alcohol breath test. There is growing social pressure against drunk-driving which I believe would also extend to drug-driving should they all be equalised in law.

    Yes there will always be problems with any officially taxed and approved drug being under-cut by unofficial supplies, but allowing the *only* supply to be criminal does not bring any advantages to the taxation and monitoring of the drug.

    To Dave H’s idea that prison denies access to drugs, I’m afraid the real situation is that drugs are easily smuggled in to prison and that is in fact where a lot of users *start* their drug use, leading to a continuing spiral of criminality.

    I think my main support for the idea of decrimilising drugs comes has two main strands. Alcohol and tobacco, especially in excess, are just as dangerous and addictive as many of the currently illegal drugs. Their legality does not solve their problems, but their ban would not solve them either – it would most likely make the problems worse due to the second issue. The crimilisation of a substance harms both the user and society more, as it is entirely controlled by the criminal world and reduces users to criminals themselves, with all the attached social stigma, standing and actions.

    • Carl.H
      18/08/2010 at 12:31 pm

      Thank you Chris for putting me right on the difference of decriminilisation and legalising, I knew there was some difference and hesitated whilst typing but wasn`t certain.

      You make some good points but avoid others. The risk in alcohol and tobacco is not as instant as it is with drugs and as you know abuse whether legal or not is frequent. Deaths inevitably will occur, we already see medical professionals being sued through the courts often enough, will this occur with pharmacists or other retailers ?

      We know that some drugs are concluded as safer than others, though there is plenty of evidence that they can all cause harm, do you propose a scale os saleability ? By what means would you suggest we say one drug is safe for him but not him ?

      There has been a concerted attempt by Governments to deter tobacco use altogether by means of education and prohibition in public. There are constant awareness campaigns to the danger of alcohol, although most fail to educate the public on the probable connection with cancer.

      Any attempt at decriminalise would have to be Policed, there will be those still the other side of the law, the problem would not be solved and I believe the cost would be too much in human terms.

      We at present have a growing problem with some legitimate drugs that are being copied and sold for less. Viagra that is imported is often not what it is supposed, the people that are importing it are not your average junkies. A lot are middle aged businessmen and the like. I know a few really sensible pillars of the community that have done this, it is shear stupidity.

      Decriminalise things like Cocaine, which is reputably a sexual drug or used in that way at times and amphetamines andyou`re asking for one hell of an NHS bill, let alone the deaths.

      Your main argument appears to rest on the main supplier being a criminal and the fact that making them illegal does not solve the problem. Can we not apply that thinking also to most criminal supply & demand issues on illegitimate products? Guns for instance, we can`t solve that problem either. A step too far for you, ok well I`ll shoot myself in the foot here, what about Prostitution and brothels ?

      The reason I shoot myself in the foot is because I use this very same argument to call for the legalisation of brothels. However sex as far as I`m aware is a healthy pursuit when consensual.

      We have a very real problem at the present time of our population growing older all the time and howwe finance and care for them. Now picture the UK filled with the like of Ozzie Osbourne who has suffered greatly due to taking drugs.

      I feel you know well that the effects and side effects of these drugs will do nothing but harm. I am afraid I`m not of the school that says if they wish to be stupid and kill themselves let them.

      Most of the people who would try these legal drugs will not be mature, addiction to some of these drugs is rapid. Too well I think you know the bodies response is “more” and it takes more to get that high. And the money will not be enough to buy that more, so criminal acts WILL be committed. Back to square one.

      Have you seen how many policeman it takes to hold down someone on speed so his life can be saved ? Have you been confronted by someone on Crystal Meth who isn`t particuarly friendly ? Imagine a night club full of them.

      Alcohol and tobacco do not even get closeto the above as well you should know.

      Enough said now, as I posted above the whole matter does not even lay in British hands, much to my disgust. I`m afraidyou`ll have to take the matter up with the EU.

      • 18/08/2010 at 3:26 pm

        Carl H.,
        “The reason I shoot myself in the foot is because I use this very same argument to call for the legalisation of brothels. However sex as far as I`m aware is a healthy pursuit when consensual.”
        Let me first conced that sex is in a different category than drugs. Secondly, since it has been a long time since we posted together on this topic I may remind you that I favor relatively highly regulated prostitution as the ideal (obviously if I approve of the regulations)of real solutions. Though in a truly perfect world I don’t suppose prostitution would exist.

        I do not know if you will even respond to this or if I will check back in time if you do but I would urge you and all moderns to believe that sex is problematic, very problematic. Solving those problems is one of the great human challenges.
        — sex leads to pregnancy which is always a significant cause of death and injury among women.
        — sex leads to STDs without reference to consent.
        — sex systematicaly, broadly and casually severed from reproduction is an enormous social disorder which humans are getting too insensitive to perceive.
        — sexual pleasure is the best thing that can be distributed to many and hopefully most people at no absolutely unavoidable cost.
        — sex is a complicated economy in which every restriction and license has intended and unintended consequences.
        I have no simple one line point here. I think dealing with drugs though has something to do with dealing with sex. The skills we use in dealing with sexual issues are a kind of foundation…

        • Carl.H
          18/08/2010 at 6:27 pm

          FWS III,

          There are those that would like to and indeed do intertwine the subjects, perhaps rightly. Howether sex, prostitution and brothels is a whole new ball game to this blog. Briefly then.

          Sex is as problematic as a couple make it or not. Sex does not lead to pregnancy in most cases if precautions are taken, neither does it necessarily lead to STD`s…I`ve had lot`s of the former none of the latter.

          Hmmm sex as a social disorder, I think you need to expand on this another time.

          Please I ask do not pigeon hole me, you maybe surprised, I for instance am against porn on the internet and the ability to freely gain access to it. Perhaps I can explain another time, in an appropriate place when I know you are able to give full attention. I know you are busy on many things at present, not least BP oil I imagine.

          I think in this instance sex is best kept apart from the proposition that drugs should be decriminalised…And I defer to the dinner bell. 🙂

          • 19/08/2010 at 11:01 am

            The question remains though, Carl, does it not, why who I shag or what narcotics I imbibe should actually be something you get any say in whatsoever? Assuming consent, and assuming that any “harm” caused is done entirely to my own person, why is it any of your damn business?

          • 19/08/2010 at 2:23 pm

            Carl H,
            Mostly I wish to acknowledge reading what you wrote, seeing you absorbed my bit fairly.” – sex systematicaly, broadly and casually severed from reproduction is an enormous social disorder which humans are getting too insensitive to perceive
            One thing ”
            is clearly not that same as sex being a social disorder. But as you say this is not our main subject here. I am very pleased by the way that you have never been pregnant neither have I and I am no virgin either.

          • 20/08/2010 at 2:50 pm

            Carl H,
            In my last reply “One thing…” belongs before the quote not sfter and would allow some sense to be made of the reply — sorry to Lord Norton errors like this demote him from Peer to clark I am afraid…

          • 20/08/2010 at 4:42 pm

            1492 to now? Well as long as we’re narrowing down the start of our decline to a period that predated indoor plumbing by a couple of centuries, I guess that’s ok then. I mean it doesn’t make a lick of sense but, well, that’s not something you seem to be taking as an impediment.

            For example:

            Secondly, I hope you are never in need of demanding human rights and consideration from someone who believes in humanity for those who chose to participate in it.

            What does that even mean, and in what sense is it even slightly relevant? Even given the rambling nature that infects some of these blog threads, this doesn’t seem to attach itself to anything that has been said before? I assume you’re referencing some ersatz bit of political theorising to do with how separating sex from reproduction makes us less linked to other humans except on a voluntary basis or something, but it’s not exactly clear, is it?

            I’m almost worried to ask this question for fear that you’ll answer it, but, just what is your point here?

        • 18/08/2010 at 6:52 pm

          “sex systematicaly, broadly and casually severed from reproduction is an enormous social disorder which humans are getting too insensitive to perceive.”

          Ah, apologists for the tyranny of biology, we meet again.

          We “moderns,” as you so outdatedly call us (the early 20th century has long been and gone, kid) don’t view sex as specifically problematic because it isn’t. What we view as problematic is the weird-ass religiousity with which conservatives elevate this simple mammal behaviour into a bunch of problems in need of regulation, worry and strokey-bearded concern for the state of humanity.

          Not everything has to be controlled by the ruling classes. Leave us our shagging and our getting high, if nothing else. We’ve given up on our habit of chopping off heads and have grown accustomed to accepting the ever-present intrusion of capital into our lives to such an extent that a 12th century serf might feel tempted to trade back his iPhone and sanitation in exchange for only having to pay fealty to one baron. The least you meddlers can do is allow us to enjoy the few pleasures available to a peasantry.

          It’s the job of the priesthood to tell us we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves. The money men should simply be limiting our capacity to do so. Don’t let’s be treading on anyone’s toes here.

          • 19/08/2010 at 6:26 pm


            I filed an answer to Carl H. which did not get through moderation yet or did not get through at all and it may be relevant. I mostly want to point out that modern has many meanings. When speaking in general socio-political terms I really mean 1492 until the current nano second. Literary modernism in Enghlish is certainly Early twentieth century.
            You obviously give yourself and your tremporal co-horts (which would include me in more ways than you think) higher marks than I do. First, I probably have a higher regard for mammals than you seem to although I kill and eat many of them freely enough. Secondly, I hope you are never in need of demanding human rights and consideration from someone who believes in humanity for those who chose to participate in it. Third, sex need not involve much beard stroking but it is possible that it can. Fourth, there is a bit too much humor and sarcasm in your text in this format for me to be sure what to respond too exactly. However, the pot should not call the kettle black so I let that go…

          • 22/08/2010 at 10:43 pm

            First let me say I cannot reply to the crrect post because we have run too far on that thread. Second, we should quit because we are not really discussing drug laws. Third, let me get to your points briefly The start of 1492 represents period in which the Western Europeans began the development and colonization of the Western Hemisphere which drove history thereafter in many ways. It marks the period in which the last Muslim state in Europe was crushed and ended and there was seen to be no plan to reclaim the Hellenic World or the Holy Land from Islam so that Christendom was redefined as a much smaller neighbor hood of mostly quite fair white Latin, Teutonic and Celtic Peoples. It marks the emergence of A new kind of Nation State and Monarch without all the baggage of countless medieval rules and who would soon have lots of gold to promote this idea — by that I mean Spain. It was a year that set free energies of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. By my standards we still live in this period.
            There were several monasteries in France and one in contemporary pre-Conquest England that had toilets over filter dithes flushed by the gray pipe water folwing from the hand washing pit. In Rome before it colonized Britania some rich families were wiped out by the lead poisioning from the plumbing in their villas. People dug up ruins of a culture so old in India we do not know how it connects to the oldest historic Indian culture and found some indoor plumbing there. Sorry, if your folks were too busy getting medieval c-sections and killing the Lord of her Britannic Majesty’s grandmother’s Castle in Glamis to have the pipes put in…
            Last point,the world is often cruel and brutal some can pretend to treat all well all the time. Some really do not try. But others believe that if you are willing to see breeding, eating and conversing in the company of their daughters and sisters in human terms then you should be treated humanely but if in animal terms… Well, fox hunting is not illegal everywhere.

      • David Hart
        19/08/2010 at 5:46 pm

        Carl H. said: “The risk in alcohol and tobacco is not as instant as it is with drugs and as you know abuse whether legal or not is frequent. Deaths inevitably will occur.”

        Firstly, this is manifestly untrue with cannabis, where users can control their dose by taking note of how much they smoke just as easily as alcohol users can take note of how much they drink. This is even untrue of opiates, provided they are smoked and of a low, but known, potency. The problem is that under an illegal market, the inherent dangers of a drug are exacerbated by the fact that you don’t know how strong a dose you’re getting (thus leading to overdose deaths) and you don’t know what other stuff it’s been mixed with (thus leading to poisonings from toxic cutting agents). There is no reason to believe that legally regulated drugs would be anywhere near as dangerous as the same drugs produced and sold illegally.

        Secondly, your language is telling – you use the word ‘drugs’ in the same sentence as ‘alcohol and tobacco’ in such a manner as to suggest that you think alcohol and tobacco are somehow not drugs, or somehow belong to a different category. This is clearly not the case, which is an important point as there are several currently illegal drugs that are widely known to be less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco: cannabis for example, LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient of magic mushrooms), MDMA (‘ecstasy’) – for none of these drugs is there any compelling evidence that their risks are as great as those associated with alcohol, either in terms of absolute numbers of users who come to harm, or in terms of the proportion of users who come to harm (and remember that’s even with the fact that prohibition exacerbates the harm inherent in any given drug).

        So your comment that ‘deaths will occur’ is disingenuous. Yes, one may expect a number of deaths or injuries with a particular drug, but alcohol and tobacco are two of the drugs most strongly associated with fatalities – tobacco as a result of long-term health risks, and alcohol as a result of acute toxicity (overdose), accidents and long-term health risks. So if the fact that deaths will occur justifies keeping currently-illegal drugs illegal, it must also justify making alcohol and tobacco illegal – I don’t understan how anyone can purport to believe that they can have their cake and eat it on this matter. The fact that alcohol and tobacco are deeply ingrained in our culture is simply not sufficient reason for making an arbitrary exception.

        If you genuinely believe that prohibition is an effective and humane way of minimising drug-related harms, you should be clamouring for alcohol and tobacco to be reviewed by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and classified as illegal at the level they deem appropriate. I hope you will either say whether you support this, or give compelling reasons not to.

      • David Hart
        19/08/2010 at 6:30 pm

        (continued from previous post – sorry, I did not get my full argument in before having to go home)

        The other way in which your comment that deaths will occur (or, as you put it later, “the cost would be too much in human terms”) is misleading is that, globally, the results of drug prohibition include a great deal of death. For instance, Mexico has seen some 29,000 murders since 2006 when President Calderon launched his current offensive against the cartels. These deaths include cartel members, police and military but also an alarming proportion of innocent bystanders. The main thing allowing the cartels to keep up the fight against the forces of the state is the profits they reap from exporting cannabis to the USA. Now cannabis is known to be a drug of extremely low toxicity – there are no documented overdose deaths from cannabis alone, and, while it may be implicated in such fatalities as driving accidents, and even the occasional ‘cannabis-crazed axe murderer’ (though these events are notable for the headlines they generate, rather than their frequency – being under the influence of cannabis is generally less likely to inspire violent behavior than alcohol – ask any police officer), it beggars belief to suggest that those 29,000 dead Mexicans have given their lives to save a comparable or greater number of Americans – quite simply, Mexico is paying a high price in blood for the USA’s refusal to regulate the cannabis market. Similarly, we import most of our illegal diamorphine (heroin) from Afghanistan, where UK soldiers and Afghan civilians are giving their lives in a struggle against an enemy who are massively enriched and strengthened by the fact that they are the ones who control the opium trade, and who reap a fine harvest of hearts and minds by the fact that it is our forces, not the Taliban, who are required to stamp out the livelihood of people who live in areas where opium is the only profitable crop. Now I’m fully aware that diamorphine is staggeringly more dangerous than cannabis, but remember that it is also one of the drugs whose dangers are most radically exacerbated by the fact that is sold in an illegal market. In order to know whether our efforts against the diamorphine trade produce a net balance of life or death, we need to know a) how many more people we could expect to use it if it were legal to do so, and b) how much it would reduce the proportion of diamorphine users who die as a result if the product was unadulterated and of known dosage. The first of these is basically asking how much of a deterrent the law currently is (and the evidence from Switzerland and Portugal suggests that the answer would be ‘not much’) and the second is easily seen by comparing death rates of users of street diamorphine with death rates of users of prescribed diamorphine in those countries that have opiate maintainance programmes. Now I’m sure you’d have to agree that these are worthwhile questions for a Royal Commission to consider, and that at the very least, given how much death is associated with the illegal drugs trade, asking how many of those deaths are primarily down to ‘drugs’ and how many are due to ‘illegality of drugs’ will help us tell whether our current policy actually saves more lives than it costs.

  13. Matthew
    18/08/2010 at 12:19 pm

    “Drug taking is a mug’s game – harming not only the taker but, under the present system, many others as well”

    In all cases, Lord Norton? Albert Hoffman appears to have done awfully well considering how many times he took lysergic acid diethylamide, as have researchers who relied on its effects on cognition to further our understanding of nucleic acid.

    Perhaps you’re referring to addictive drugs, such as ethanol? In which case, I should hope that an academic such as yourself knows that avoiding equivocation is paramount for healthy discourse.

  14. 18/08/2010 at 12:24 pm

    Lord Norton:

    Drug taking is a mug’s game – harming not only the taker but, under the present system, many others as well – but making the practice a criminal offence appears to cause as many if not more problems than it solves.

    Many things are a mug’s game in this life. Top of the list is “not being born wealthy.” For most, life is hard, and the smaller pleasures of life are often bad for you. But so what? The state has long considered it its duty to control how the lower classes enjoys their narcotic relaxation, but it’s really none of its business whether we do so with a bottle of Tesco’s gin and 25g of Golden Virginia, both of which are eminently bad for us, or with a dose of MDMA to dance the night away or a toke on a joint before we watch a movie.

    But then, poverty is bad for us. Working unpaid overtime is bad for us. Global recessions are bad for us. Lots of things are bad for us that the government seems to tolerate. It seems rather unfair, really, to tolerate the actions of bankers (and, seriously, we might as well make their cocaine legal as well, since there’s never any problem with them getting hold of it, is there?) that make our lives generally intolerable, but not the drugs that help make it tolerable again.

    Marx said religion was the opium of the masses, but really opium is the opium of the masses. If you’re going to run a society entirely for the benefit of the upper crust, at least allow the peasantry our bread and circuses.

  15. Croft
    19/08/2010 at 3:36 pm

    “Drug taking is a mug’s game – harming not only the taker but, under the present system, many others as well”

    I rather think you overplay the point LN. Millions of Britons take various drugs every weekend. Most are recreational/party users who will try and later give up as they get older/settle down and suffer little or no objective harm. That’s not to say many of the illegal drugs aren’t terribly harmful or that they can’t destroy lives but the sensible measure of illegal dugs harm is the average user not the significant numbers who suffer devastating repercussions.

    As the dugs advisory bodies have often made clear one of the central problems of illegal drugs is even where the drug is of minimal harm the variability of dosage, mixing agents, and possible sharing of tools/equipment can be the greater harm to the user.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      21/08/2010 at 3:58 pm

      ‘Drug taking is a mug’s game’

      This constitutes a rather mild expression of my views.

      • Lord Blagger
        21/08/2010 at 5:00 pm

        So why are we still subsidising your drinking in the commons and lords?

      • 21/08/2010 at 5:16 pm

        Does that apply to all drugs, or merely the ones which are a) enjoyable and b) subject to current state disapproval?

        I’m sure there are many members of the house who, for example, start the day with caffeine and end it with alcohol.

        Now, I’m sure that were we to consult the proper literature we could probably find out that they were, indeed, playing the mug’s game and that their lives could be longer and healthier without those particular stimulants. But one must wonder, does that really matter? After all, it’s not as if people aren’t aware of the health risks, and yet indulgence in narcotics is a commonplace affair. Perhaps all those who do things which are enjoyable but bad for them are mugs, or perhaps they’re just weighing their priorities differently.

        I mean, shucks, I think religion is a bit of a mug’s game, but I’m also not foolish enough to think that it’s not fulfilling some deep-seated psychological desire among the adherents, and I don’t really think that all religious people are mugs. And with the origins of religion being tied in with ritualised drug taking, and even the religions that don’t use hallucinogens to induce trance states these days often invoking it in the crowd via other methods, I’m personally inclined to suggest that the stimuli provided by religion and certain narcotics aren’t a hundred miles away from each other.

        So I do wonder whether me ought not to take a prudish and moralising “it’s bad for you but making it illegal doesn’t work so let’s just try and discourage it” tone, and perhaps consider that other people’s brain chemistry isn’t just none of our business but actively and properly theirs in a liberal society, and if they wish to alter it by sitting in a room and chanting or drinking a couple of glasses of red wine or by snorting charlie with a bunch of other hoorahs from the Telegraph, that’s not just our business to stay out of but their right as individuals.

        Just a thought, of course.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          22/08/2010 at 11:22 pm

          McDuff: Would substituting the word selfishness help? How many thousands have died to satisfy the pleasure of those who choose to take drugs? The fact that many people may take drugs does not negate the truth of the observation.

          • 23/08/2010 at 4:13 am

            Lord Norton

            Barely any, in comparison to those who have died as a result of the pursuit of wealth by the already rich and powerful. Certainly most of the people who die as a result of drug use are drug users, which stands in stark contrast to those who die as a result of warfare and economic imperialism, which tends to kill the people who don’t get any benefits.

            The exceptions are, of course, when governments make particular drugs illegal and open up the possibilities for gangsterism. Even then we’re talking chickenfeed, compared to the lives that can be snuffed out idly by an entrepreneur seeking increased margins, or a head of state looking to secure his legacy with a nice juicy war.

            In a situation where even the wealthier states have newborn populations of those with smashed livelihoods thanks to the tomfoolery of capitalists, are you really saying that those who choose to smoke the occasional joint or dance at the weekends on speed or E should feel that they are guilty for spreading death? Whose deaths? And why is the guilt alleviated if they simply choose as their intoxicants substances like nicotine and alcohol from which the government raises tax revenue?

            I’m sorry, but I really don’t buy it. It’s as selfish as many other private and hedonistic pleasures, but it’s no more the cause of mass bloodshed than buying a running shoe or a diamond ring, and with the lax way our government uses the armed forces I’d say it leaves less of a stain on the soul than paying taxes to invade middle eastern countries. And, one could certainly make the case that tithing to the Catholic Church for the last 30 years was contributing to some pretty dubious salaries, yet here we are entertaining the Pope at cost to the public purse next month and not taking those contributions and extending them to moral culpability for child abuse and the spread of HIV in African countries. As, I’d say, is quite right and fair. But if we’re going to allow all those potentially harmful morally grey areas through, I’m struggling to see what makes drugs so particularly special that we should be all worked up about how selfish drugs users are, and how we’re only letting them get high because they’re too persistent to pay attention when we make the drugs illegal.

            Why, Lord Norton, is coca worse than coffee or cocoa?

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            23/08/2010 at 11:50 am

            McDuff: I know there is a view that so long as it is only those involved in the drugs trade who kill one another then it is all right; but there are now plenty of others suffering as a result of the trade. That’s why it needs to be taken out of the hands of those who control it. The fact that there are other causes of misery and death is not a reason to dismiss the selfishness of drug taking. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church may have a lot to answer for is no justification for saying that drug taking is okay. People must make their own choices; if they wish to self-harm by smoking or taking drugs, then they must take responsibility for it. Smoking harms those who smoke; drug taking can harm not only those who engage in it but also many as a result of the supply.

          • 23/08/2010 at 1:35 pm

            Lord Norton

            But that is a catch 22 situation. The drug supply chain is a violent one simply because it is illegal. Take away the illegality and you take away the necessity for violence. Whiskey and gin distillers no longer shoot each other for control of territory in the continental USA, after all.

            Now, there are certainly problems consuming any imported cash crop, such as cocoa or tea, but I assume that you don’t think everyone who enjoys a morning cup of Tetley’s is playing a selfish “mug’s game”. Despite the existence of Fair Trade products we acknowledge that, in general, the particulars of the global supply chain are out of the end user’s hands.

            Marijuana can be — and, let’s be honest, actually is — cultivated right here in the UK, cutting down the potential supply chain of a legal crop to that equivalent with most alcohol, and indeed even though it’s illegal not much drug violence stems from the short weed supply chain. Coca and opium would remain difficult as long as the USA kept up its utterly asinine and counterproductive “war on drugs”, bless their authoritarian little cotton socks, but if one can establish Fair Trade coffee I see no reason to believe you couldn’t do exactly the same thing with other cash crops. They are, after all, just plants.

            The point I’m making is that, contra your OP on the matter, once the system is no longer distorted by moralising laws making the substances illegal, it no longer becomes the dubious moral area that the laws are supposedly protecting against. It reminds me of the old rule that said Intelligence Officers working for the security services couldn’t be homosexual because of the risk of blackmail, which was discarded once the agencies in question realised that the blackmail risk was caused by the rule against it. Bad rules create problems.

          • David Hart
            23/08/2010 at 2:36 pm

            One might equally well put it like this: how many thousands have died to satisfy the censoriousness of those who wish to punish those who choose to take drugs? Of course the buyers of illicit drugs are implicated in the violence inherent in the black market, but nobody buys drugs _because_ they want to bring suffering to people further up the supply chain. By insisting on keeping (some) drugs illegal, therefore guaranteeing that the market will be controlled by violent criminal profiteers, the prohibitionists have just as much blood on their hands as the purchasers of drugs.

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            24/08/2010 at 1:01 pm

            McDuff: It’s difficult to know where to start. They are not at all comparable. How many clinics are there to deal, say, with tea addicts? I agree (see The Times today) that drugs should be seen as a health problem rather than a legal problem. At the moment, drug taking contributes to thousands of deaths. If decriminalised, as I favour, it remains a serious health problem. Hence my normative conclusions.

        • 29/08/2010 at 12:51 pm

          Lord Norton

          We need some foundations for these here goalposts, they keep moving around.

          There are few clinics for tea addicts. There are, however, clinics for alcoholics. However, it should not be necessary for me to point out that the fact that AA exists does not mean that the majority of the people who frequent bars or split a bottle of wine over dinner in a restaurant will ever have cause to qo along to a meeting. NA clinics also exist, but the majority of people who use drugs never attend nor do the have a need to attend.

          We really need to nail down the grounds on which we are expressing our disapproval of recreational highs here. If it’s because of secondary and knock on effects of the drugs trade, it’s worth noting that these will be vastly reduced and in some cases vanish if the War on Drugs is left in the dustbin of history where it belongs. If it’s that drugs are bad for you, it’s similarly worth noting that lots of legal things are bad for you, and that lots of things people have to do, in general, are bad for them.

          The governing elites don’t, as a rule, disapprove of things which are bad for people. They disapprove of that slice of venn diagram where the sets “things which are bad for you” and “things which you might actually enjoy” intersect. If the government wanted to commit itself to, say, reducing working hours and increasing wages on the basis of the proven benefits to public health, I’d be a little more amenable to them advising us what we can do with our supplies of free time and money. But since they seem intent on making our share of those things diminish, I say we get to pick what we do.

  16. Lord Norton
    Lord Norton
    24/08/2010 at 1:02 pm

    David Hart: I am not a prohibitionist. See my response to McDuff.

    • David Hart
      24/08/2010 at 1:38 pm

      Point taken. But in general we should always be careful to remember that there will be deaths caused under any policy option, and therefore drug-related deaths cannot be an absolute statistic if we don’t count them against drug-prohibition-related deaths.

  17. McD
    30/08/2010 at 12:11 pm

    Not all drugs are harmful.

    Take cannabis, for example: without it the quality of life for hundreds and thousands and potentially millions of people with MS would be much worse and there’s no harm in enjoying a better quality of life. Just think how much better everyone’s quality of life would be if people who could use cannabis and enjoy a better quality of life could actually use cannabis and enjoy a better quality of life. Everyone would then enjoy a better quality of life, even those whose quality of life didn’t seem much better for being able to use cannabis, because they would be surrounded by people who can enjoy a better quality of life. Where’s the harm in that?

    A mugs’ game? What a truly offensive thing to say!

    Quite honestly, as an MS patient of more than twenty years standing, whose quality of life is unbearable without cannabis, I’m morally outraged by any suggestion that I should be subject to any restriction whatsoever. I’ve used cannabis since 1977, without realising until fairly recently that I’d been self-medicating, in much the same way as a cat will eat grass when it needs to settle its stomach and/or vomit – instinctively.

    I love growing cannabis. Not just because of the relief and consequently improved quality of life it provides me, but simply because I love growing the plant. I love watching it grow and looking after it.

    It’s five plants allowed in NL, by the way – not four, although I shouldn’t think anyone pays any attention to the number of plants. The only thing that’s of real interest to the police there is whether cultivation is for commercial or private purposes and even then they’d not be much interested in commercial cultivation if they didn’t feel it was going to be sold for export. But that’s beside the point.

    Most people seem to have pretty much given up on telling others who they should have sex with – male of female, black or white… No-one’s going to get involved. Why the hell should they be any more interested in what I do in the privacy of my own home,in my own kitchen, when everyone else is asleep, so it is of absolutely no consequence to anyone else whatsoever? I grow my own cannabis (and NEVER sell or give a gram of it to anyone; nor breath a word about it to anyone who might take offence, which is a terrible shame, really, because it’s made me into something of a recluse as a result. I’d love to be able to share my love of this gift from God with others, but, like Byron’s it would seem to be a love that dares not.) It’s not as if I’ve seduced an eighteen-year-old boy. There’s no-one else involved.

    So, to answer your question more directly, Carl, I couldn’t care less which hoops are set on fire for the jumping through; I will always grow as much cannabis as I need. If there were legal limits set, I would try to stay within them, but – now that we all know what a farce the law is – I wouldn’t pay any attention to it if it wasn’t convenient.

  18. IgnoranceIsBliss
    08/09/2010 at 1:55 am

    I think the biggest flaw in the argument against legalisation is the notion of ‘dirty drug addicts’. Have you convinced yourself that this multi-billion dollar drug trade is payed for by stolen car stereos, nicked purses and welfare cheques?

    The reality is, drugs can be used relitively safely *there are inherint risks everything we do* and the majority of people who consume drugs recreationally do so without effecting anyone else, ever. These people are telling us they are willing to have their intoxicant of choice taxed, regulated and produced without conflict or collateral damage.

    I know i have been pretty blunt, but that is the reality of the situation that people dont often care to mention. The people who served you your coffee, the stock trader who manages your hedge fund, your divorce lawyer, your supermarket attendant, your teacher, your bus driver, your accountant, your President (or Prime Minister). Stop being so ignorant. They get high on alot more things then coffee. Stop thinking just because you cant ‘smell the odor’ walking down the street, your neighbours arnt indulging at the pub on a weekend. Because they do. And their sensible use creates a the market that currently only crimiaml enterprises can capitilise on.

    Do i think that making drugs cheaply availible to that homeless guy down the street is going to help him get back on his feet? No. But sending him to jail for his depression is not going to either. He needs support services, someone to listen to his story, and time to heal…. But we cant afford any of that because the budget is blown un-winnable wars.

  19. daniel carter
    09/09/2010 at 3:36 am

    Drugs can be dangerous, and therefore they ought to be controlled, as the Misuse of Drugs Act sensibly specifies. Sadly the government is failing on its duty by simply prohibiting and denying property rights of such drugs, without even trying to exert any kind of control on them.

    This is the essence of the problem, the miss-administration of the Misuse of Drugs Act by wrongly equating prohibition with control, as one of the consequences of prohibition is the lost of control in favour of criminal drugs syndicates.

    Regarding drugs administration, to prohibit means to lose control.

    The government will never be able to prove that they can control a drug by prohibiting its possession or trade, rather than by regulating it, as only under legal regulation is possible to control quality, to include user instructions and health warnings and apply many other essential policies that reduce drugs related harms. Marketing and age restrictions are also impossible under prohibition (it’s well known that the only ID you need to illegally buy drugs is a £10 note, while dealers will always market their drugs as the ones which will make you have the party of your live).

    Under prohibition, the government maximises drug harms and looses control of harm reducing factors in favour of criminal syndicates, when instead they ought, by law, to devised policies to minimise such harms (i.e. legally regulating them and therefore controlling such drugs). The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act concerns itself with public health and safety; however, the Act does not concern itself with absolute safety. Rather the Act seeks to prevent, minimise or eliminate the “harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem” that may arise via any self-administration of “dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs”.The Act targets these “harmful effects” only indirectly through “restrictions” ss3-6, “prohibitions” ss8-9 and/or “regulations” ss7, 10 & 22, on the exercise of enumerated activities re controlled drugs: import/export, production, supply, possession, etc., whilst generating a harm minimisation conversation at all levels of society via education, research and the provision of specific health services. Therefore, the government is administering the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 arbitrarily, contrary to the purpose of the Act, contrary to the original wishes of Parliament, in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore illegally.

    Some people consider the notion of drug legalization to be bizarre and radical, a drastic step. But inebriating drugs have been mostly legal throughout the millennia of human existence; the drastic step was taken in the second decade of this century in the United States when for the first time large-scale, comprehensive legal control of inebriating drugs was implemented. Some people claim that legalization represents a daring and risky experiment, but they are wrong. Prohibition is the daring and risky experiment. Drugs have always been around, and they will certainly ever remain. To pretend that both users and non-users will be better protected because some of them are impure, very expensive and sold by criminals (who are, by the way, indistinguishable from undercover police and plain businessmen) is simply ridiculous, and yet more so when the street supply grows year after year. The obvious result is a growing output of crimes and illiterate youngsters, who use the illicit substances partly as an adulthood initiation rite, and partly as an alibi that suggests declaring oneself irresponsible, unfree, victim of a chemical devil. This is very comfortable at such a critical moment of life, in which they should rather learn responsibility, imitating the abnegation displayed by their elders with them. So the true option is not vice as opposed to law and order. The real choice is between an irrational consumption of adulterated products, compared to an informed use of pure drugs.

      17/01/2011 at 8:20 pm

      Riding horses is dangerous and therefore ought to be controlled.

  20. 16/01/2011 at 1:17 am

    “Drug taking’s a mug’s game”-does this include alcohol?

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