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.

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