Tuesday, 21 June 2011

It's a good job that drugs are illegal to possess and supply otherwise many of those people in the Westminster Drug Project may be out of work

It's a good job that drugs are illegal to possess and supply otherwise many of those people may be out of work, since drug prohibition causes many of their client's problems (multi-drug suppliers, lack of credible point-of-sale advice, contamination and impurity, unknown strength, high prices resulting in crimes of acquisition and small-scale dealing, no age restrictions...)

and it's the law that prevents people seeking help until it is too late or they are arrested.

But we would not want to see the the charity Westminster Drug Project unemployed - so long live prohibition despite the costly miserable failure it has proved to be!

in reply to:

MP pays tribute to volunteers at drug and alcohol treatment charity’s North London branch.
The Finchley Arrow
Monday, 20 June, 2011

Westminster Drug Project (WDP) provides the Catalyst and Re-Start drug and alcohol services in the Borough of Barnet. It celebrated National Volunteers’ Week at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.
Finchley & Golders Green MP Mike Freer paid tribute to the passion and commitment of the volunteers who help people to recover from drug and alcohol dependency at the charity Westminster Drug Project.
He said, “Volunteers do a huge amount of good. Often they can win the confidence of people who need help, and inspire them to change, where others fail.
“Volunteering also breaks down prejudice by bringing people in and giving them insight to people’s lives and how they can be helped, whether the issue is addiction, or HIV, or disability.
“It’s a two way street. I’ve been a volunteer and you get a lot back from it. It can also be very important experience on your CV.”
The MP heard moving accounts from former service users who are now volunteers themselves. Jon (26) explained how he had started using drugs as a way of escape: “Eventually I ended up a dependant opiate user and was committing crimes to support my use. My life spiralled out of control and for a 16 month period I was basically homeless and in and out of prison.
“The reason I am mentioning this is because it was a turning point in my life: after a sustained period of abstinence from drug use and crime, I was offered the opportunity to attend a volunteers’ training course at Westminster Drug Project.
“I decided to go because throughout my using days I had some contact with drug services and was very surprised at how helpful, and friendly the staff were.” Jon described how he developed experience and received further training. “By early 2010 I feel I started to prove myself in my role: I was given more responsibility and I was given the chance to help develop our service. I feel that I was always listened to and supported by management and staff.”
Eventually Jon was encouraged to apply for jobs, and decided he wanted to work for WDP. Today he is a successful drug and alcohol practitioner.
Yasmin Batliwala, Chair of WDP, told the volunteers who had come from across WDP’s services in London and the South East of England, “Volunteers’ Week celebrates the fantastic contribution that volunteers make. Today we say thank you for all the amazing work you do. By giving your time, your skills and your leadership to WDP, you are significantly increasing the help and support we can give to our service users.
“Our mission is to support people to recover from drug and alcohol dependency and help people lead full and active lives in their families and communities. Volunteering is a key part of that cycle, of connecting people with the help they need so that they in turn become empowered and able to give back.”
Volunteers make up one in four of the workforce at WDP – about 100 volunteers and 300 staff. Over half the volunteers have recovered from drug and alcohol dependency themselves and are able to provide powerful role models to current service users.
If you are interested in volunteering with WDP, please visit the website www.wdp-drugs.org.uk and click on volunteering for more information and application form, or visit Re-start. If you want to talk to someone about a drug or alcohol problem, whether for yourself or someone you know, please contact Re-start at:
6-8 Alexandra Grove, North Finchley, N12 8NU – Telephone 020 8492 2525

Monday, 20 June 2011

Cannabis-based MS drug rejected by NHS Lincolnshire

How ridiculous that the UK Government spent our money on testing the usefulness of whole-cannabis extract Sativex, realised that it works better than other Pharmaceutical products, allows the pharmaceutical companies to produce the medicinal solution - then the NHS service refuses to allow it for treating the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis because they don't believe it works!
"to relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis has been labelled as "insufficient"
Yet the patients themselves, those that it was tested upon, those in other countries and those few that have been "fortunate" enough to get it here, swear that it helps them.

In fact, cannabis itself has been grown and used illegally by many sufferers for many years - a few years ago Mark and Lezley Gibson and Marcus Davies were prosecuted for supplying free cannabis-laced chocolate through their group then known as THC4MS and given suspended prison sentences.  They supplied literally tens of thousands of bars of chocolate to people that said they found huge benefit in them.  The bars of chocolate, all clearly labelled, were made by grinding the essential cannabis heads and mixing with high quality chocolate and posted out.  They could do that through donations of cannabis from illegal growers without charging anyone even a penny!   The evidence of the efficacy was indisputable.

Now, exactly the same chemical constituents, dissolved in alcohol, with a hint of peppermint flavouring, produced on mass is available at a cost of £11 a day but people are not going to be allowed to get it on prescription.

Just who are these cloth-eared tyrants in the NHS?

Stephen Gibson, head of prescribing and medicines management at NHS Lincolnshire, said: "We evaluated Sativex through our effectiveness forum and we felt it was of insufficiently high quality for us to approve it for use.

"It is also more expensive than a whole range of other options we've reviewed."
I bet they did not consider herbal cannabis itself, as available in The Netherlands, many US States, Spain and other countries - at a fraction of the cost!

It is not cannabis that we need to get rid of, it's these petty  NHS that deny their patients a medicine that they themselves know helps - the decision to refuse to allow it is indeed a sad indictment of the NHS.

UK: Cannabis-based MS drug rejected by NHS Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Echo

Monday 20 Jun 2011

A NEW drug based on cannabis to relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis has been labelled as "insufficient" by NHS Lincolnshire.

The drug, Sativex, has been approved by regulators to help relieve spasticity or muscle stiffness in MS patients.

It has been available unlicensed in the UK since December 2005.

But last year it became the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Sativex costs £11 a day and is issued as an oral spray. Only doctors specialising in MS, such as neurologists and pain consultants, are allowed to prescribe it.

According to figures revealed by the Department of Health (DoH), patients in Lincolnshire have been prescribed Sativex on 28 occasions since August last year.

But NHS Lincolnshire said these prescriptions have been issued to "around three or four" patients taking the drug before it was licensed.

The health authority also said it had rejected Sativex because it had not yielded effective enough results to match the cost.

Stephen Gibson, head of prescribing and medicines management at NHS Lincolnshire, said: "We evaluated Sativex through our effectiveness forum and we felt it was of insufficiently high quality for us to approve it for use.

"We referred that decision to the East Midlands Specialising Commission Group who reached the same conclusion.

"It is not approved for use by any of the PCTs across the health authority.

"We have said that for new patients we don't feel there is enough strong evidence to support prescribing it.

"It is also more expensive than a whole range of other options we've reviewed."

Maureen Patten, manager of the Lincoln MS Therapy Centre in Outer Circle Drive, said: "There are around three or four people our physiotherapist knows of that have been refused the drug in the past, but we don't know the reasons why. When these drugs come out we often know about them in advance through MS forums.

"There was quite a big thing a few years ago with drugs called beta interferons which were said to be the wonder-drug for people with MS – but there were strict criteria. You had to be under 55 years old and have relapsing and not progressive MS.

"It meant it wasn't available for about half of sufferers.

"It's frustrating when drugs aren't available for people. There are quite a few drugs about to deal with MS, but the very strong ones can leave very strong side-affects.

"Other treatments include physiotherapy and having a drop-in centre like ours where people can talk with others with the same condition."

Andy Bazley, 49-years-old from Lincoln, is a sufferer of MS and was diagnosed four years ago.

He said: "All these drugs go through trials and none of them are deemed 100 per cent effective. There's always going to be different side-effects for different people – it depends on the individual and their symptoms.

"My choice is to continue with the quality of life I already have rather than putting it at risk by taking some kind of toxic drug."

Monday, 13 June 2011

RE: Cannabis 'Russian roulette' warning

I find it hard to believe that you printed the nonsense spouted by Charles Walker MP (Cannabis 'Russian roulette" warning, June 13)

Mr Walker apparently told the House of Commons "young people "playing Russian roulette" with their lives through the use of skunk cannabis."  In this Mr Walker (MP for Broxbourne) reveals his ignorance in many ways.

Firstly "skunk" cannabis is just one of a huge number of varieties and it's strength, like all cannabis,  depends upon how it is grown.

Mr Walker also wrongly claims that cannabis today is the drug had changed over the last 30 years and was now was "highly toxic and highly dangerous".

The truth was revealed by Kings College, London, about a year ago, when after studying the strength of cannabis, reported that it has not changed.

As for toxicity, clearly Mr Walker does not know the meaning of the word, for the truth is that it is impossible for a human being to consume the toxic dose, which is measured in kilos.

As for playing Russian roulette, Mr Walker ought to be ashamed of himself to make such a comparison - I would happily challenge him to stand by his words, him with a gun loaded with one bullet, me with a massive bag of his so-called "skunk".

Alun Buffry

sent in reply to
Newmarket Journal, 13 June 2011
Cannabis 'Russian roulette' warning

A Hertfordshire MP has warned of a major public health risk with young people "playing Russian roulette" with their lives through the use of skunk cannabis.
Introducing the Commons adjournment debate, Charles Walker (Conservative, Broxbourne) said the drug had changed over the last 30 years and was now was "highly toxic and highly dangerous".
He called on the Government to do more adding: "We can't talk about harm reduction - we have to talk about harm prevention.
"Up and down the country too many families are suffering the torture of watching their children squander their futures - bright children who have so much to live for ending up with so little.
"This is brought about too often by an addiction to skunk cannabis, a drug that is ruining lives."
The drug, he said, created a sense of euphoria, but had many side-effects including hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, attention impairment and emotional impairment.
He said: "Child and adolescent mental health services across this country are dealing with thousands of youngsters and adolescents who are suffering severe psychotic illnesses and there is a causal link with skunk cannabis."
Mr Walker said one in four carried a faulty gene for dopamine transmission and if a youngster had that gene and smoked skunk cannabis they were six times more likely to get a psychotic illness.
He added: "Skunk cannabis is like holding a loaded revolver to your head and playing Russian roulette. You don't know if you have the gene and you don't know when the bullet will fire."
Responding to Mr Walker's concerns, Health Minister Anne Milton pledged to do all she could to protect the health of young people, and acknowledged that skunk cannabis was on average four times stronger than herbal cannabis.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Cannabis user produced drug for own use


If Robert Westwood grew cannabis plants for in his house for his own use, why on earth was he taken to court at public expense and given a community order ("Cannabis user produced drug for own use", The Sentinel, June 11th)

Police searched the van and recovered eight bags of cannabis weighing a total of 17 grams with a street value of £100. Westwood said the drugs were for his own use.

But isn't it strange that a value of £100 was put on those 8 bags, by somebody, even though they were apparently not for sale - and why?

And why do we the taxpayer get charged so much every year to cover the twenty billion pounds spent fighting drugs when there is just as much on the street, maybe more than ever - yet a man growing a few plants for himself gets arrested and taken to court which costs hundreds of pounds?

There is something seriously wrong with the Government's policy of prohibition that more and more people recognise as an absolute failure and disaster - it mostly punishes the very people the law ought to protect from crime, exposes them to crime, costs us all a fortune and criminalises tens of millions of people in the UK that are not doing any harm to anyone else.

Those that do harm - steal or rob to raise money to buy drugs - of course they should be punished.

But the others like Mr Westwood, should be left alone

Alun Buffry

in response to
Cannabis user produced drug for own use
The Sentinel, Stoke, June 11 2011

CANNABIS user Robert Westwood has been handed a community order after he grew the drug in his house.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday heard police stopped a Mercedes van in Corporation Street, Stoke, which was being driven by the defendant, at 11.20pm on November 7.
Police searched the van and recovered eight bags of cannabis weighing a total of 17 grams with a street value of £100. Westwood said the drugs were for his own use.
Police then searched the defendant's home in Jubilee Avenue, Etruria. Inside officers found 12 plants and hydroponic equipment and lighting.
There was more cannabis in a "drying tent". A fingerprint from a pole in the growing room matched Westwood's.
He told police he bought the eight bags of cannabis found in his van. He accepted he grew the plants at his home and said it was all for his own use.
The 43-year-old defendant, of Quarry Road, Hartshill, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and possession of cannabis resin.
Nick Tatlow, mitigating, said Westwood was a very heavy user of cannabis when he committed the offences.
He said the estimated yield of the plants was quite high because Westwood has abilities as a grower.
Mr Tatlow added that Westwood had greatly cut down his cannabis use.
Judge Michael Dudley sentenced Westwood to a 12-month community order with 160 hours' unpaid work.
He told the defendant: "You are being sentenced on the basis all the cannabis was for your own use and there was no suggestion of supply to anyone. That's what saved you from a custodial sentence."


Thursday, 9 June 2011

I would far rather that young boys took part in boxing than smoke cannabis, for example - David Davies MP

quote from David Davies MP: "I would far rather that young boys took part in boxing than smoke cannabis, for example. It is much better to channel aggression into a controlled sport like boxing than to let it go underground. That would be in nobody’s interest.”

Tory MP under fire in row over boxing at school
Western Mail, June 9

my comment sent to readers@mediawales.co.uk


Monmouth MP David Davies has been criticised for his comments about boxing in schools ("Tory MP under fire in row over boxing at school", 9 June)

One thing that Mr Davies said that struck me with some punch: "“I would far rather that young boys took part in boxing than smoke cannabis, for example. It is much better to channel aggression into a controlled sport like boxing than to let it go underground. That would be in nobody’s interest.”

It seems to me that would apply to cannabis as much as boxing - to put / leave either outside the law would be utter nonsense and a disaster - the present law against cannabis proves that.

Alun Buffry

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

No support for argument to legalise drugs in UK

In  Their article : No support for argument to legalise drugs in UK The Herald in Scotland wrote:
"The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had an impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and we do not know how much worse it would become without it."

I find that quite astounding - I guess if you think that criminalising some 10% of the population that choose to use controlled drugs DESPITE the ban - punishing people that use those drugs even if they have done no harm to others - banning them from future careers, certain countries, even household insurance - splitting families by putting users in prison - whilist celebrating with a glass or two - that shows the present policy is working.

OF course we don't know what would have happened in the UK had those drugs not been banned, had purity and strength been ascertained, had there been credible advice at point of supply (through doctors and chemists in most cases), had the users not been forced into the world of crime and offered one drug after another by unscrupulous greedy dealers that are interested only in money - and we don't know whether we would be better off without millions of criminalised citizens and misguided youth ...

... but we can look to The Netherlands to see that the policy of tolerance towards "Coffeeshop" cannabis suppliers has resulted in less problems from cannabis use and a far lower rate of new addicts to hard drugs - as well as less problems with alcohol - and THAT including the so-called cannabis-tourists attracted to the country because they don't feel safe growing a few plants in their own homes.

THAT is why the recommendations to take a new approach is so brave and refreshing - and far from their being lack of support for the proposals, there is much, especially when it comes to "legalising" cannabis - bringing it within the law and controlling the supply.

To suggest prohibition works here is plain nonsense, it works no better than the prohibition of alcohol in the USA which was disastrous.

I know I am one of many that urge the Government to consider a new approach - not to increase availability or use, but to reduce harm - the harm caused by profit-motivated dealers that sell contaminated rugs of unknown strength to anyone with a ten pound note - the harm caused by misuse of the drugs themselves- we all want to see the harm caused by drugs reduced but the present policy is failing to do that - ask anyone that works with drug users that have suffered - did the law actually help and is it worth the billions spent annually on fighting drugs?

in reply to:
No support for argument to legalise drugs in UK
Published on 8 Jun 2011

The Report by The Global Commission on Drug Policy has received much media attention.

Sadly this grossly inaccurate document is certain to appeal to those who hope for a simple way of addressing a massive social problem.
The report is one of a series of misinformed initiatives to legalise drugs because the so-called war on drugs is thought by some to have failed. Simplistic statements combined with deliberate misrepresentations by those who wish to legalise drugs for their own purposes add to public confusion and misunderstanding.
The report wishes to address “common misconceptions” about drug policies but is guilty of perpetuating them. The majority of people in the UK do not wish to see drugs legalised and only 6% of the global population between the ages of 15-64 use drugs. Some of those who have supported legalisation have done so because they assert this would “take the profit out of crime” thus putting criminals out of business would ensure “a supply of pure substances that could be taxed” which would diminish public health problems and prevent prisons being packed with recreational drug users. Perhaps it is not widely known that there is a global movement to overturn the United Nations conventions driven by people who see huge profits in marketing addictive substances.
No consideration is given to the fact that there is a thriving black market in the legal drugs of alcohol and tobacco and no awareness of the huge administrative burden that would be created by setting up a Government department to tax and administer drugs if legalisation occurred. There was no awareness of the devious ways in which drug traffickers would circumvent the legislation, they would not suddenly become good citizens; no acknowledgement that people would find ways of avoiding taxes and no thought given to the increase in addiction/dependency and mental illness that would follow such an ill-advised move. The tax burden would rocket and short of the Government distributing free drugs, those who commit crime now to obtain drugs would continue to do so if they became legal.
It is unclear which drugs the legalisers are referring to and to whom they should become available. Do they wish to legalise crack and will all people, regardless of age and mental condition, be able to buy it? Doctors would be reluctant to prescribe. The implication that cannabis is a benign substance is dangerous and inaccurate.
The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had an impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and we do not know how much worse it would become without it. Legalisation would convince people that legal activity cannot be harmful; it increases the availability of drugs and their consequences and removes social sanctions normally supported by the legal system.
All drugs, including those on prescription, can be dangerous if taken without medical advice; new research is informing us about the dangers associated with misuse. Instead of calling for legalisation, the compassionate and sensible approach should be that we do everything possible to reduce addiction and drug abuse.
Sadly this report, supported by people who seem not to have done any research into the subject, alleged that successes in places like Portugal and Canada are justification for their recommendations when the reverse is true. No mention is made of the fact that after over 30 years of toleration the government of the Netherlands has recognised the error, actively seeking to abolish the cannabis cafes and has moved to prevent access to them by foreigners.
The policy must be “first do no harm” and Sweden is an excellent role model. The UK Government has no intention of legalising drugs but the damage done by the publication of reports such as this should not be underestimated.
Ian Oliver is a former chief constable of Grampian Police, and now a consultant with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. His book, Drug Affliction, is published by Robert Gordon University.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cannabis offences teacher is reprimanded by panel

Cannabis offences teacher is reprimanded by panel

I write with dismay after reading that ex-teacher Alan Taylor has been punished TWICE for the same offences ("Cannabis Offences Teacher is Reprimanded by Panel", Bolton News, 7 June)

Mr Taylor, having been convicted of cannabis offences and punished by the courts, has now been "reprimanded"("given a two-year reprimand") by the General Teaching Council DESPITE them saying they had no evidence had a direct effect on his teaching.

Chairman Aaron King stated: “All teachers are role models and we have heard that you are a good teacher.

“That such offences have been committed by you could well have an effect upon pupil’s perception of the risks associated with drugs and undermine other teaching in a school to the contrary."

So Mr Taylor was a good teacher, his cannabis offences had no direct effect on his teaching, yet he is being punished for a second time (double jeopardy) As if in any case any effect on pupils would disappear after two years.

Any teacher if consuming alcohol nightly to access under the same circumstances where it had no effect on his teaching would be left alone.

There is something very wrong there

alun buffry

Judge thanked for rejecting jail sentence

Judge thanked for rejecting jail sentence

I am glad to see that this woman was not sent to prison but really - did she actually harm anyone? If indeed she was forced to grow cannabis it is more than sad, a crime in itself - but does she really deserve to be punished at all?

If cannabis is safe, why does it lead to so many suicides?

If cannabis is safe, why does it lead to so many suicides?

Coroner Mairin Casey writes"For some people, smoking cannabis is not that different from having a few pints but, for others, almost from the beginning, it can cause mental health problems."

So why does the law arrest all willy-nilly?

We may as well say that those with problems started on coffee, alcohol or even pills from the pharmacy and then arrest everyone that drinks coffee!

By ending the ban on cannabis, for starters, it will separate the supply from hard drugs AND, more importantly, allow credible point-of-sale information and advice and bring the issue into the open.

When people deal with criminals, problems are inevitable - and, let's face it, cannabis for most users IS a pleasant and safe experience.

In fact,Mairin Casey, cannabis is VERY different to "having a few pints" - alcohol is obviously a far greater risk to personal and social health,m a greater cause of violence and absenteeism, illness and premature death, than cannabis

Yet few would advocate banning it (putting it into criminal hands) because of those that suffer.

CANNABIS IS NOTHING LIKE ALCOHOL OR HARD DRUGS - and taking one without problems does not mean that taking other drugs will not lead to problems that is the message that needs to be broadcast.

The present system suggests that alcohol is safer and that cannabis and hard drugs are of greater risk - which is nonsense.

It's down to the individual.

UK: Drug grower given chance to avoid jail

I would have thought that it would be better for a person to be growing their own than going out and buying dubious quality from street dealers and giving them all the untaxable profits.


Of course some people may be better off without cannabis - but far worse off if they decide to drink alcohol instead, which is perfectly legal to possess and produce for own use at home, and perfectly legal to buy.

And if this man cannot prove he has stopped using cannabis and is sent to prison - at taxpayers, expense - then I ask you - what good will that do?

It also seems to me that this started as a result of a domestic dispute and I hope the mother realises just what she will be putting her children through by criminalising and possibly imprisoning their father for a so-called crime that never hurt anybody.

It seems to me that a better solution would have been to keep the door locked and keep their lives private
alun, Norwich

Friday, 3 June 2011

"Decriminalise drugs? No way" , says government in wake of global report

So, in the wake of the recent report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. in the face of the evidence that reveals without doubt that the policy of prohibition has failed to reduce either the use of certain drugs or the harm caused by that use (some drugs, some users), the disaster brought to society by giving the supply of most drugs to uncontrollable criminals, producers and suppliers, the outcry from experts and public, and the huge financial burden on the taxpayer ...

they simply spout the same nonsense issued twenty years ago, close their ears and say NO!!  Today this was echoed by the Government of Malta.

I have to ask WHY?

What is really behind prohibition?  Who is pulling the strings?  Who is making the profit.

Almost ten years ago the UK Government launched a study into their own drug policy through the Home Affairs Committee which recommended downgrading cannabis to a class C drug.  

Although the Government followed the advice at that time, it was not long before it was reversed - on the unstable grounds that cannabis had suddenly become stronger!   But all forms of cannabis from the most potent to the very weakest, were put back to class B and the maximum sentence for possession once again increased to 5 years in prison, although, strangely, the maximum sentence for supply remained unchanged.

In their report, the Home Affairs Committee also wrote that it would take a brave politician to "legalise" cannabis and that at that stage they had not even considered it.

It is said that politicians fear losing votes if they take that step.

Just a couple of years ago the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) issued a post card inviting people to send it to the Labour Party.

Basically it said that if they upgraded cannabis to class B again, we would not vote for them.

Labour went ahead and lost the election - with so many voting cannabis users in the UK, who knows how much they contributed to the downfall of Labour.

Meanwhile Lib Dems claimed to have a policy towards liberalisation of cannabis cultivation and an end to prosecution for possession.  Yet since entering into Coalition with the Conservatives, themselves led by an ex-user of cannabis (and no doubt one that shred and was hence also technically guilty of supply - David Cameroon), they have seemingly dropped the policy.

So it is time to oust them all!

Cowards the lot - and we don't want our land ruled by cowards!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wake up call to prohibitionists? Your policy has failed!!

At last, many ex-heads of state, ex-Government ministers, academics and celebrities seem to be coming together to reveal the total disaster of the prohibition of drugs policies.

Since the prohibition of drugs experiment was started back in the 1920's and particularly since the adoption of the world-wide UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, which led to the Misuse of drugs Act in the UK in 1971, we have seen disaster after disaster.

Whilst criminal gangs have made huge un-taxable or laundered profits and their victims have suffered from both ignorance (lack of credible advice and legal protection) through some drugs, the hypocritical law-makers have favoured the use of other and often more harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco, and Governments have taxed users heavily.

Lack of advice and quality control has led to countless deaths, untold crime, gang-warfare and an almost endless list or problems mostly brought on by the prohibition policy itself - a policy that has left the supply of what are clearly commercially viable, if not universally desirable, consumables.

Whilst police spend massive amounts of taxpayers' money - many billions of pounds each year in the UK alone, the result has been simply atrocious - to the point that it is hard to justify the policy on any level.   The law often punishes the people it ought to protect - the "victimless" users; it enables criminal profits and creates addicts often driven to crimes of acquisition to pay the high prices for dubious quality drugs of unknown strength - whether cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD or whatever.  Strangely enough, in the UK and many countries, alcohol and tobacco are the exception, as well as being the biggest killers.

Now a group of ex-Government leaders and academics, as well as celebrities, have come together to demand that the UK Government end the failed policy of drug prohibition and take control; this comes at a time when a  well-respected international body (The Global Commission on Drug Policy) has declared the "war on drugs" a total failure.  

The 19-member commission includes former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and former US official George P Schultz, who held cabinet posts under US presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker,Mexico's former President Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil's ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, as well as the current Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou. The panel also features prominent Latin American writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the EU's former foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The list of those that have written to the UK Government demanding an end to prohibition includes Dame Judi Dench, Julie Christie, singer Sting, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and former Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth..  It is also supported by Film director Mike Leigh, actress Kathy Burke, three former chief constables and leading lawyers.

The open letter to the UK  Government, which was published by the campaign group Release, reads: “We call on the Coalition Government to undertake a swift and transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies. "

It concludes: "The failure of the current UK system of criminalisation is clear. It is time for the UK to review its policy and adopt a health focused, evidence based approach to drug use."

The UK Home Office was quick to respond, with a standard letter: "The immediate reaction from the Home Office last night was to rule out any such move: "We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities."

Strangely enough, almost the same words as used by the last Labour Government when Bob Ainsworth MP was himself a Home Office minister.  Mr Ainsworth seems to have changed both his job and his tune - but NOW maybe he is speaking more honestly and sincerely than previously, who know?

Either way, to see this report from the The Global Commission on Drug Policy and letter to the Government is somewhat refreshing, even though the initial response remains as boringly thoughtless and hypocritical as ever.

When will the prohibitionists wake up to the FACT that their failed and costly policy is doing far more harm than good?  Or maybe it is them that makes the biggest profits all along?