Drugs debate continues

Lord Norton

Further to my earlier post on the issue of decriminalising drugs, the subject is also discussed in the latest forum hosted by the Speakers’ Corner Trust.  The Trust summarises the respective positions of the participants thus:

“Danny Kushlik, Head of Policy and Communications at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, calls for ‘a system of strict control and regulation for the most toxic and dependence inducing drugs and a lighter tough regulation for the less powerful drugs’ and concludes that legalisation is not only the best way to defeat the drug gangs but ‘bringing illegal drugs into regulatory regimes will definitely reduce overall harm, and could in fact, reduce the availability of drugs. Pharmacists are vastly better controlled than the user/dealer with the reinforced door, pit bull and hand gun.’

But Professor Neil McKeganey, Director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, argues that ‘drugs don’t become harmful because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are harmful’ and warns that legalising drugs would not only not significantly reduce crime but also could lead to a tenfold increase in the level of heroin addiction without reducing the acute problems associated with it: ‘in the UK some 400,000 children are being brought up in homes with addict parents. Legalisation of illegal drugs would not help those children; it would simply mean that their addicted parents now had a legal supplier to turn to.'”

You can read their exchange here.

17 comments for “Drugs debate continues

  1. 25/08/2010 at 12:47 pm

    Lord Norton,

    I thank you for sharing the exchange link. It is certainly one of the best things I have seen on the subject. I tend to believe that real drug reform should include the following.
    1. Agreements with all drug producing countries to import legal stimulants. That means Moslem countries would have to operate special hotels for international alcohol sale at least. Colombia would have to allow competition with local beer etc. In return a percentage of all drugs used in the new regimes would be allocated to imports from these countries.
    2. A survey would be made of all lands used for drug crops in drug exporting countries. No new lands could be put in use. Farmers in the zone would have to use half their lands and resources for production of food crops even if before they were all drug crops. This would reduce supply.
    3. Criminal cartels would be given a chance to adhere to participation in a manufactories regime and transit with governmnet supervision of supply and production. They would be required to produce a percentage of low dose and by-product goods.
    4.Importing countries would tax drugs imported at a high but not absolutely unique rate.
    5. Pharmacists and physicians would be required contractors but recreational drugs cold only be sold in retail recreational environments where every foodserver, bartender and usher had passed a basic drug licensing course.
    6.Medical Marijuana and other dosed medical drug use would be allowed butout of regular pharmacies only and not as is the case in California’s huge industry.
    7. All use neither medical nor in these highly licensed recreational regimes would still be criminal.

    I go for months at a time using no stimulants but a cup of morning coffee. I have seen lots of harm by drunks and addicts. However, I also truly believe that for many people where chemicals are not used they will use delusions, violence and hatred of even more dangerous kinds than seen in the narco world. Also I am no different than the HoL in that I collect statistics wherever I can. Your capacity as a body to collect these must make this stance distasteful but while I always want to see them I am highly suspsicious of the soundness, meaning and relevance of any statistics whatever….

  2. Croft
    25/08/2010 at 1:04 pm

    “‘drugs don’t become harmful because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are harmful’”

    Really? I can think of a pretty good list of drugs that are harmful but not illegal and if you take the opinion of many of the experts on relative harm we have drugs ranked less harmful than presently legal drugs that are illegal.

    As we were so recently reminded with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs hoo hah – the debate about classification of drugs both in terms of legal/illegal and where illegal their relative harm is an intensively political matter not one decided on the evidence alone.

  3. 25/08/2010 at 2:51 pm

    ‘drugs don’t become harmful because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are harmful’

    So what? There are plenty of things that are legal and harmful, the law should not become involved unless the activity is harmful to others.

    ‘in the UK some 400,000 children are being brought up in homes with addict parents. Legalisation of illegal drugs would not help those children; it would simply mean that their addicted parents now had a legal supplier to turn to.’


    This is not a compelling argument, having a legal supplier, who could also act as a springboard for the addict parent to get help, would be a good thing. Also, as I sarcastically noted above, this is an appeal to emotion.

    Having scanned the rest of the debate, I’m finding the case for prohibition to be lacking.

  4. Gareth Howell
    25/08/2010 at 6:38 pm

    Without reading the report for the moment the most difficult thing for me is to be confronted by a known and hardened criminal, insisting that I buy Cocaine at however much a ‘kick’.

    I never have done even so, but the complicity of drug dealers with the criminal community is so deeply entrenched, that is difficult to understand how anything would change with a change in the law.

    Criminals are interested in committing crime, so if certain kinds of drug are legalised they would then start to sell drugs which have not been decriminalised, in order to maintain their evil reputation in the criminal trades.

    I have employed somebody at a slightly higher rate of pay for doing an excellent job, instead of paying him for a small parcel gms of cocaine in a white sachet,pressed unsuccessfully upon me, my way of paying a man to do some thing in which he can take real pride, rather than that of the devil, to whom he may now go more permanently, not employed by me.

  5. 25/08/2010 at 7:08 pm

    In a “free” country surely it is not merely our human-right but our British Democratic Citizenship Responsibility to take care of ourself, and to mind our own “business” ?
    They say modern mental-illness-management includes forcible injection of drugs, actually nicknamed by ‘nursing’ staff, “medical and pharmacological coshes”.
    The latent and several-already-active Sicknesses of our civilisation’s Body, namely of the People, are distressingly but symptoms resulting from the Shortcomings of this same civilisation’s Spirit and Mind namely of its controlling Economics, Education, Finance, Governance, Human-Development, Human-Rights, Individual-Capitalism, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology.

    2nd Nutshell:
    “Daily we must break the ‘body’ and shed the ‘blood’ of the Earth, in order to live’.
    When we do this skilfully it is a sacrament’
    But when we do it unskilfully it becomes a Blasphemy” (OliverWendell Holmes).

    3rd and 4th Nutshells
    In a very real sense, the very powerful House of Commons is to blame, evidenced simply by its currently forthcoming head-on encounter with The People, whose only champion appears to be the Trade-Unions, over rushing totally-unfair, draconian and inhumane income-cuts legislation through the Commons and into Enforcement without allowing the Upper House to scrutinise and suggest improvements to it. Only the Unions have enough strength and ability to stand up and be heard in this historically-disgraceful jackbooting by a grossly-overpaid and under-competent Parliament.

    At the same time the Nation’s top-educational institutions have just constructed a new “rule of thumb” capable of summarily knocking-back thousands of A-level-qualified university entrance students; simply because those students’ prior GCSE results “were not up to scratch for later university-work”.

    5th and final Nutshell:
    What might be the formally and morally reasoned difference, between the self-medicating disadvantaged on the one hand, and the self-bloating super-rich on the other hand ?


    • Senex
      27/08/2010 at 10:30 am

      JSDM: Talking of nuts possum you’ve been out in the heat of the bush for too long? What I would recommend is an areca nut chewed with a betel leaf as a mild stimulant to bring you around. On second thoughts it can cause a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness – so maybe not.

      As for your bleeding heart portrayal “over rushing totally-unfair, draconian and inhumane income-cuts legislation through the Commons and into Enforcement without allowing the Upper House to scrutinise and suggest improvements to it”

      The public have put their faith in popular democracy on the basis that it is perfect and cannot do wrong in money matters. Its role is to stimulate brains with ‘happy messengers’ from the biogenic amine/endorphin system. And what better way to do this than retail therapy. Give them money to spend, government collect their taxes to allow politicians to have their ‘happy messengers’ too.

      Now the likes of ‘Lord’ Blagger and me, being somewhat parsimonious in nature are drug free in these respects. Our ‘happy messengers’ come from self reliance, using debt sensibly and saving money whenever we can. The public on the other hand have recently been in the hands of the biggest pusher of happiness in our history and the money has run out. Are you drug free?

      Flesch Reading Ease 64.6
      Flesch Kincaid Grade Level 8.5 (Ages 13-14)
      Words: 235

      • 28/08/2010 at 12:08 am

        One enthymeme and one error at a time, and given that you respect not JSDM but “A Rulebook for Arguments” by Anthony Weston, your phrase “The public have put their faith in popular democracy” surely inaccurately conflates not only the UK May 2010 electorate (which turned-out only 60% of the total electorily-entitled British Electorate)with the whole of the British People qua “the public (which includes millions of non-electorily-entitled-UK-residents, not allowed to vote)”, and falls foul of more than one of the ‘rules for good argumentation’ e.g. rules #1 to #11 the onsider counterexamples” also dropping your reasoning-power or willingness into disrepute by your opening sad attempt to dish dirt out onto my person by, similarly to GH, implying that neither I nor my submissions are sane and trustworthy.
        Both GH and Senex have plenty of shortcomings in their posts that could be attacked:

        I on the other hand am committed (entirely individually, disinterestedly and in a spirit of mature-adult-trust towards honest improvement of British Democracy) to the guideline or ‘rule’ “tackle the problem win-win-win and do not in any sense ‘you lose’ attack the person “.
        Of course, if we read your ad hominem flailings as entertainment rather than as genuine attempts at sincere argumentation, then you may each start being awarded a point or two (as enteratiners not as credible-arguers).

        But if you truly wish to be yourselves read as credible-adults, then you will tackle the Problem(s), Data, and Solutions presented, and give up trying to attack and discredit Persons.


  6. Gareth Howell
    26/08/2010 at 7:44 pm

    “They say modern mental-illness-management includes forcible injection of drugs, actually nicknamed by ‘nursing’ staff, “medical and pharmacological coshes”.”

    jdsm speaks wisdom on this occasion, but what of the cocaine trader/criminal who wishes to provide his own “coshes” for the purpose?

    Why should the state have the monopoly of the cosh?

    I can think of quite a few reasons!

    • 27/08/2010 at 5:04 am

      GH almost ‘damns me with faint praise’ (one of the twelve ‘Roadblocks’ to win-win-win conversation and reasoning) by picking a minor sub-topic or focus and avoiding all the key major topics put forward !

      I do now see and apologise for my past ‘verbosity’ as far as the ‘snapshot-reading’ time-slit of the average blog-reader is concerned;
      and I believe I am already making quite rapid progress away from that ‘over-detailing’ oversight:
      ‘though none of my previous blog-comments is nearly as long as the vast majority of formally-written Public Submissions to a Government-Public-Enquiry.
      (Please see my submission yesterday to Lord Norton’s “Peers’ expenses” blog re Hansardemailing me to “keep it down within 250 words”).

      “In this instance” you say, Gareth; as if I generally contribute no factual, positive or constructive material whatsoever!

      I beg you to scan through my previous posts and see that I do contribute fact, positivity and constructiveness.

      And please do note that I usually include at least one published and respected authority for the Overall Major Contextual Area within which as far as my knowledge and life-experience tell me the peer’s posted blog-topic sits (or in most cases disconcertingly ‘fidgets’).

      Nevertheless, in the same up-front spirit as yourself, Gareth (of “tell the truth and shame the devil”) let me now recommend (again, but specficly hereto):

      “A Rulebook for Arguments” (4th edition 2009, Hackett) by Anthony Weston.
      (My above comment is approx 300 words long, because it necessarily needed to shine light well outside of the peer’s and GH’s chosen simple topic-boundaries.
      My new aim is to keep myself well within the LOTB-Hansard requested word-limit of 250 per posting).


      • Senex
        27/08/2010 at 3:51 pm

        JSDM: Everybody has a point of view but not everybody can be succinct. I remember doing some work many, many years ago for the nuclear industry. It was horrible stuff, nobody really understood it least of all me. It was about the time Microsoft Word was at 2.1 and it had a readability score engine.

        So I took to using it and to my amazement the score of my work went from impossible to read to not half bad. In fact by using it often enough I learned a lot about grammar generally something that had always been a weakness of mine.

        One day I was called into the office by the manager and given a really good ticking off and it was very upsetting. You see the government was paying for the work to be done through an interposing company and they were milking it for all it was worth. The objection was not about the quality of my work but the fact that it was readable. So your efforts do remind me of this. Take a leaf out of my book and avail yourself of a readability score engine if you don’t have MS Word.


        Children need to be able to read the blog as well as adults and as you know there are lots of ‘children’ to be found in the precincts of Parliament.

        Flesch Reading Ease 66.8
        Flesch Kincaid Grade Level 8.6
        Words: 240

  7. 28/08/2010 at 12:21 am

    “rules #1 to #11 the latter to consider counterexamples”
    (in my above post 1208St28Aug) please.

  8. 28/08/2010 at 12:33 am

    In my above post 1208St28Aug please also correct, in the closing paragraph, “…then you may each start being awarded a point or two (as enteratiners …), as follows:
    “…then you may each start being awarded a point or two (as entertainers not as credible-arguers).”

  9. ladytizzy
    29/08/2010 at 1:20 am

    JSDM: you must not reject responses that question your chosen form of deductive reasoning, or is this a no-no-no for Mr Weston’s devotees?

    The rule book you devoutly wish readers to consume has been bundled by Amazon together with Five Dialogues by Plato and Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. This suggests it attracts an audience primarily made up of students who have yet to share their urgent thoughts with tutors or other adults. On the other hand, “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” the slightly better known Next of Kin:My Conversations with Chimpanzees. Ah, RIP Washoe.

    Is the above evidence, entertainment, both, or something else? Does Weston intoduce Even-Only no-no-no-nodalities? Might he have contributed to the script of The Vicar of Dibley? (I’m gambling on a not-null intersect of a Venn diagram here.)

    Back to the post:

    Several have highlighted the fallacy of ‘drugs don’t become harmful because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are harmful’ (gosh, I manged to get that without Weston’s cheap help). Another fallacy is that decriminalising (or legalising) drugs will not prevent drug-related crime.

  10. 30/08/2010 at 3:51 pm

    Although ladytizzy’s remarks are fraught with ill-informed, illogical, and fallacious attack and poisonous-innuendo, against not only honest-individual-participants but against good Institutions too for the better-sustainment of human-civilisation, and thus hardly deserves to be dignified by any answer whatsoever, the following may be of general help to some readers:
    .(1) Deductive logic asserts that either “All” or “None” of a case is true; whereas Inductive logic asserts that either “Some” or “Not some” of a case is true.
    ((ladytizzy: One does not “choose” how deductive, inductive or other forms of reasoning should (NB usually ‘must’) proceed. That has already been deeper-entrenched than it has been in the British, European and United Nations Constitutions, Legislations and Declarations and in most of today’s civilisations, by Humankind’s indelible-succession of Thinkers))(((of whom author “A Rulebook for Arguments” 4th edition-Anthony Weston arguably is currently one, along with many others whose work I also appreciate and thereupon recommend)))((((I recommend such as invaluable sources of support, not as you wildly put it (“)devoutly wishing readers to consume…together with Plato’s “Five Dialogues” and Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” suggesting that these books are for immature students only; and that they furthermore of in the same class as a better-known book “Next of Kin: my conversations with chimpanzees” (a book that may well prove to be strongly-linkable to “The God Fallacy” TV documentary by Dawkins-and-a-world-company (this latter parenthesis is simply JSDM’s sub-comment thereto) ) (“) )))).
    In short I reason that one should lifelong be “learning” the most-sustain-worthy of available knowledge, know-how and life-experience, such that one can at least mention those sources where they appear to be needed.
    .(2) Veitch-Karnaugh diagrams work far better than Venn diagrams which you say you’re gambling on yielding a “not-null intersect”.

    .(3) (“) Back to the post: (a) “Several have highlighted the fallacy of ‘drugs don’t become harmful because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are harmful (gosh, I managed to get that” without Anthony Weston’s “A Rulebook for Arguments” cheap help (“):
    ladytizzy you might have got it much better with such “cheap help”, because it is inductively-true that ‘some drugs become harmful because some legislation makes them illegal’.

    There could be a point in your favour here, though, since Weston’s excellently comprehensive “rule-book”, the size of which should not be conflated with its possible cash-cheapness nor with its contents-value the latter being inestimably high and very certainly not “cheap”, needs to be supplemented by more-completely erudite and practical-life-experienced works such as (in some order of both ‘difficulty’ and ‘immediate appositeness’)
    “Fallacies and Argument Appraisal” by Christopher W. Tindale (2007, Cambridge University Press);
    “Inductive and Practical Reasoning” by Girle, Halpin, Miller & Williams (1978, Rotecoge);
    “Logic: Theory and Practice” by Rennie & Girle (ISBN 0 7022 0853 1 (paper))

    .(3) (b) It is not the Case that “decriminalising (or legalising) drugs will not prevent drug-related crime” is a fallacy; any more than it would the Case that “decriminalising (or legalising) drugs will prevent drug-related crime” is a fallacy;
    and to check this out simply consider re-writing both statements in inductive form.


  11. 30/08/2010 at 6:52 pm

    I offer my apology to The Lords of the Blog, its users, and its Hansard team, for my above very long post;
    and I would sincerely appeal in favour of such length because of the otherwise lack of essential constructive discipline, in basic skills of formal-argumentation, moral-reasoning, and constructive all-round Win-Win-Win problem-solving.

    I would truly expect my response to any clearly-disciplined Post to require no more than your standard suggested 250 words.

  12. Gareth Howell
    31/08/2010 at 6:43 am

    “by picking a minor sub-topic or focus and avoiding all the key major topics put forward !”

    I’m not avoiding anything, except spending so much time on JDSM’s elaborate essays that I would end up wiping something for him in Plymouth, and without mixing my metaphors, that would not be worth the candle!

    • 31/08/2010 at 7:02 pm

      GH: There are several other commenters posting ‘long-essays’.
      You yourself having sent in several ‘longish’ ones over time, haven’t you ?

      Your understandably reactionary-post was timed at 0643, crossing-in-the-post with my wider apology and reason-for-lengthiness, which whilst timed by LOTB at 0652 has been shown before yours. Not our fault.
      Therefore all my previous, Stet.

      Re “not spending time on JSDM’s long essays”: likewise my previously-given reasons should also ‘Stet’.

      Of my previous submissions including some to yourself, I shall paraphrase my concerns, intentions, and findings, in later and much shorter posts.

      “… as Mill reminds us, a complete appreciation of argumentation will involve accounts of both good and bad reasoning.”

      “In many ways fallacies are breakdowns of the norms of reasoning, and through their study we gain a better understanding of ourselves as reasoners and as members of audiences in social settings”.
      (“Fallacies and Argument Appraisal” by C.W. Tindale, 2007 Cambridge University Press; page xv in the Preface).

      How much more should we, as ‘mere subjects’ in a Lords-to-Public political-governance workplace, hold fast, and progressively so, to every win-win-win skill and every piece of straight-thinking and non-fallacious argumentation that we can get hold of, and that the Lords of the Blog possibly alone appear to be giving us half-a-chance to share ?


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