Monday, 21 March 2011

UK: War on drugs has failed, say former heads of MI5, CPS and BBC - me too!

There are a number of criticisms of the current regime of prohibition of the possession, production and sale of some drugs in the UK

Whilst many drug users themselves may call for freedom of choice and (rightly) claim that what they consume is a matter for them and Government ought not to try to control that, so long as credible and accurate advice is available - along with consumer protected supply from reputable outlets, and provide the users are doing no harm.

Alongside this many argue that to punish drug users when they do no harm, is an unjust consequence of attempts at enforcing prohibition.  The victimless drug users become the victims of the law - and they are the very people that the law is meant to protect.

Prohibition, many say, does more harm than good; it fails to reduce harm from drugs and actually increases it by leaving the supply firmly in the hands of uncontrollable, un-taxable, unknown and often unscrupulous dealers and producers.

Whilst the cost of this prohibition to the British taxpayer runs into almost £20 BILLION annually, the profit from drugs finances crime and attracts an endless line of people willing to step in to replace the few that are caught.

We ask - who gains from this prohibition?  The answer is the drug producers, the drug sellers and those employed to try to catch them and lock them up.

We ask who pays for this prohibition?  The answer is the taxpayer and the drug user that suffers.

So I was pleased to read the headline in The Telegraph (21 March)
"UK: War on drugs has failed, say former heads of MI5, CPS and BBC"

The "war on drugs" has failed and should be abandoned in favour of evidence-based policies that treat addiction as a health problem, according to prominent public figures including former heads of MI5 and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Leading peers – including prominent Tories – say that despite governments worldwide drawing up tough laws against dealers and users over the past 50 years, illegal drugs have become more accessible.

Vast amounts of money have been wasted on unsuccessful crackdowns, while criminals have made fortunes importing drugs into this country.

The increasing use of the most harmful drugs such as heroin has also led to “enormous health problems”, according to the group.

The MPs and members of the House of Lords, who have formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, are calling for new policies to be drawn up on the basis of scientific evidence.

It could lead to calls for the British government to decriminalise drugs, or at least for the police and Crown Prosecution Service not to jail people for possession of small amounts of banned substances.


The chairman of the new group, Baroness Meacher – who is also chairman of an NHS trust – told The Daily Telegraph: “Criminalising drug users has been an expensive catastrophe for individuals and communities.

“In the UK the time has come for a review of our 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. I call on our Government to heed the advice of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that drug addiction should be recognised as a health problem and not punished.

“We have the example of other countries to follow. The best is Portugal which has decriminalised drug use for 10 years. Portugal still has one of the lowest drug addiction rates in Europe, the trend of Young people's drug addiction is falling in Portugal against an upward trend in the surrounding countries, and the Portuguese prison population has fallen over time.”

Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1983 and 1989, said: “I have no doubt that the present policy is a disaster.

“This is an important issue, which I have thought about for many years. But I still don't know what the right answer is – I have joined the APPG in the hope that it may help us to find the right answer.”

Other high-profile figures in the group include Baroness Manningham-Buller, who served as Director General of MI5, the security service, between 2002 and 2007; Lord Birt, the former Director-General of the BBC who went on to become a “blue-sky thinker” for Tony Blair; Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, until recently the Director of Public Prosecutions; and Lord Walton of Detchant, a former president of the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council.

Current MPs on the group include Peter Bottomley, who served as a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher; Mike Weatherley, the newly elected Tory MP for Hove and Portslade; and Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge.

The group’s formation coincides with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which paved the way for a war on drugs by describing addiction as a “serious evil”, attempting to limit production for medicinal and scientific uses only, and coordinating international action against traffickers.

The peers and MPs say that despite governments “pouring vast resources” into the attempt to control drug markets, availability and use has increased, with up to 250 million people worldwide using narcotics such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin in 2008.

They believe the trade in illegal drugs makes more than £200 billion a year for criminals and terrorists, as well as destabilising entire nations such as Afghanistan and Mexico.

As a result, the all-party group is working with the Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, to review current policies and scientific evidence in order to draw up proposed new ways to deal with the problem.


  1. Everyday this stupid law goes on, is another day giving millions to non-tax paying criminals, drugs are not going to go away, there's millions of people just in the UK that happen to like them, It's our bodies, we're supposedly free individuals, the state has no right to tell us that we can't use a natural plant that grows in the dirt.
    If you want to have control, you need to regulate, then you can put a minimum age in place, you can monitor what is being sold and you can raise tax revenue.
    Add to this the legal tax paying jobs it would create from growing through regulating, transport and point of sale, what the idiots in power are doing at the moment is just plain stupid.

  2. I love weed. There is nothing wrong with smoking weed. I really dislike those people who say that you die of cannabis and that it causes cancer…well no it dose not no one has ever died of cannabis no matter how much you take you cant die, also its been proven to prevent cancers and tumors. Tobacco and green are two completely different things but of course the government seems to think that all substances that are smoked must cause cancer! well sweet Mary jane doesn’t. People are now raving on about the fact that cannabis causes mental health problems. well so what? its only occasionally that you would develop a problem plus your only likely to get a mental health issue problem if it runs in the family or you’ve suffered a trauma as marijuana can be the catalyst for mental health. If people want to smoke green in the safety of their own home then why not? there not hurting anyone its not the governments business to say what people can or cant take. How can you let alcohol be legal and not marijuana? thats just criminal. There are so many benefits from smoking cannabis and i feel ashamed to live in a country where a miracle drug like this is still frowned upon. Also i don't have a problem with drugs like coke and heroin its up to the user to choose what they want to do take not the governments business.