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Jake Humphrey kicks off the debate on drugs

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Jake Humphrey | 15:30 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

Presenter Jake Humphrey

What do a university library in East London and a sports hall in Doncaster have in common? 

So far in 2012 they are the two places to have broken new ground by hosting Free Speech for BBC Three.

Ironically at both venues the audience, the odd passer by and even some of crew made comments such as; ‘not like Monaco is it?’ or ‘bit different to F1 mate!’  Of course a uni on the Mile End Road in London’s East End, and a public pool next to an shopping centre in Doncaster are a little different to the places F1 frequents, but I think that’s the beauty of Free Speech.

Some of the places that Formula One visits are all about style, by complete contrast, I think Free Speech is all about substance.  So far we’ve not been afraid to highlight important, often emotive, issues such as benefit cuts or prison re-offending rates.

Equally, I’ve like the fact that the audience and the panel have enjoyed topics where they’ve had a laugh as much as a debate; be it Radio 1's Gemma Cairney cycling around London, our social media jockey Michelle De Swarte doing stand-up comedy about chavs, or the clear disappointment in Doncaster that they came third in a poll to find out which city in the UK is having the most sex!

And now on to show three, coming live from Bristol at an earlier time of 8pm next Wednesday. We’re kicking off a debate on drugs: should they be decriminalised?

There’s already been a lot of chat online about this. We had four young writers give us their opinion in a blog last week, and today we launched a video debate with SB.TV on this very subject, which you can check out here:

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So what do you think? Should the Government consider legalising drugs? 

I’m sure the Brisolians will have a lot to say when we’re live in the studio, but Free Speech is a chance for the whole country to get involved in the debate as well.

When you tune in at 8pm next Wednesday, there are a few ways you can be part of the show and its debates as well. If you just want to dip your toe into the water then follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook

Maybe you fancy just diving straight in?  In that case, by using hashtags you can influence the ground-breaking Powerbar that lets the panel know whether the audience at home agree or disagree with their viewpoints.

The other option is to climb up to the 10 metre board and dive in head-first by sending us messages online through twitter, facebook or the comments on this blog below that may well be read out by Michelle and influence or add to the debate on the show.

We’ve had the show and our panellists trending on Twitter, and generated thousands of online messages and opinions across the country.  Free Speech day comes only once a month so make sure when it’s here in May, you’re part of it.  One of our main topics will be the legalisation of drugs – so if you’ve got an opinion, then share it with us!

Free Speech is giving a voice to an audience that I don’t think are well enough served in this country.  This is a unique opportunity for you to make a real difference. We’ve had MPs, entrepreneurs, media figures and musicians on our panel, but you at home are the most important ingredients, so Wednesday at 8pm, make a date with us.

Free Speech is on Wednesday at 8pm


  • Comment number 1.

    The truth about cannabis is CLEAR.

  • Comment number 2.

    Here are the priorities
    1 - access to cannabis for the terminally ill.
    What kind of sick, twisted person would deny safe, clean cannabis to a cancer sufferer?
    2 - decriminalize and regulate cannabis for recreational use. Non-profit, taxed, no commercialization. Encourage current users to use strains higher in CBD and less in THC, glass, silica and other spayed-on substances and to reject organised crime.

  • Comment number 3.

    These are my suggestions after 5 years hard work on this:

    1. We must address ALL forms of drug MISuse, the starting point is not cannabis or any particular drug, but the persons causing harms with ANY and ALL forms of drug MISuse.

    2. This is essentially a civil liberty issue. The debate is being incorrectly framed to concern 'legalising drugs' - this is a complete impossibility because the belief that we can talk about 'illegal drugs' when in truth no such thing exists, is part of the problem. I am not making this up - there is no such thing as an 'illegal drug' - the law can only control human actions with respect to objects. We are talking about the issue in reverse.

    3. We have allowed the state to steal control of our minds and consciousnesses by declaring it property. They enslaved some drug users by reversing the subject and object of regulation for drugs they decide to control access to, that is, the mind states they control access to.

    4. We have caffeine to keep you working hard all week, alcohol to destroy your mind enough at the weekend that you're willing to go back on Monday and cigarettes to make sure you don't collect on that pension for too long once you're done!

    5. For controlled drug users there is an indivisibility on various levels, firstly drugs are lumped together thus the conflation of use and misuse removes all human agency. We can never approach from a drug centric basis, it must start with a human outcome being addressed before it works its way down to a conversation about a drug. They shouldn't split drug users into legal or illegal, they aint splitting drugs, they are dividing us amongst ourselves and denying all our possibilities.

    6. The big question is who invented the lie 'legal drugs'? Who said the smokers and drinkers and their dealers were exempt from the operation of the law?

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 4.

    You really should correct the question, you cannot decriminalise drugs. This must be framed in terms of people, drugs have no legal status/agency - you can only decriminalise the person! It is vital to understand this distinction, the whole basis of prohibition policy is based upon myths - 'illegal drugs' and 'legal drugs' do not exist. It is also a fact that it is not illegal to USE a drug (except for the use of opium). This is important because whilst the law controls YOU via your property thus making use almost impossible without breaking the law, the law as applied is being misused to achieve this - they want to say ALL use is MISuse and that is a lie. They want you to think some drugs are legal and some illegal - don't buy it, the law should address anti-social outcomes with ANY and ALL harmful drugs.

  • Comment number 5.

    The unelected people of the EU is the reason we don't have any laws

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    It’s an interesting debate and one that is being discussed around the world. However, there are so many mixed messages around drug misuse, making it difficult for people to sift through what is fact and what is fiction.

    It’s important to clear up the confusion about ‘decriminalising drugs’. Drugs don’t have a legal status, so you can’t decriminalise drugs, only the person. The law applies to the action of the individual e.g. buying and selling substances.

    Some drugs can only be used lawfully in medical situations, where they’re registered and under strict control. Some drugs, like nicotine and alcohol, can be used by adults but their supply is regulated and controlled.

    Some will say nicotine is a good example of how a drug can be regulated and controlled.

    A ban on smoking in public places and on tobacco advertising, big government health campaigns and restricted sales have all helped reduce the number of related deaths in recent years. There are a number of ‘quit smoking’ aids available in shops and giving up is often celebrated.

    Alcohol - the most popular drug of choice for young people - could be seen as an example of a poorly controlled drug.

    While the manufacturing and selling of alcohol is regulated, you can still see alcohol adverts on the television, on the big screen, posters, newspapers and magazines; there are few restrictions about where you can drink it; and you can buy it from brightly coloured displays in supermarkets, other off licences, in pubs, bars, the cinema, trains, planes and even at a petrol station (well, convenience stores with a few petrol pumps out the front).

    There are lots of mixed messages about alcohol – we’re told small amounts can be beneficial, although there is undisputed evidence that alcohol misuse creates harm, so it's not surprising that users are confused about the risks they are taking. We know, because the thousands of people who come to us for help tell us so.

    Alcohol isn’t a vegetable – you don’t need to have a recommended daily amount, yet many people will have a glass of wine with their meal or a couple of drinks after work, or regularly go out at the weekend just to get drunk and ‘enjoy themselves’, without being aware of the damage that regular and excessive use can cause.

    For some substances, noteably those regarded as 'criminal' where there is no regulated market, there is ready access to unregulated supply, with no control over where these drugs are made, what is in them or who is taking them. Health information is sparse. Admitting to a problem is stigmatised - which is also the situation with alcohol use.

    In the face of our experience with nicotine, alcohol and illicit drugs, the challenge is to take what we have learned from successes (such as tighter regulation of the advertising and promotion of nicotine, coupled with clear health messages and easy access to support to quit smoking) and apply them to other problem substance use.

    We're also very interested in why people start to use drugs - including alcohol -in the first place. We know that this is a complex subject. We work with thousands of people every year who have different and multiple reasons for their substance use and for why it has become a problem.

    But, whatever their circumstances, alcohol and drug misuse is not a natural state. It is not the changing of the seasons and the tides of the sea. It is the product of individual choices, which prove to be more risky than expected.

    When we start to challenge these choices and address the reasons for them, we'll begin to see the potential for a society where problem drug and alcohol use simply doesn't happen.

    Thats our goal - a society free from problem alcohol and drug use.

    Then the question of decriminalisation will be redundant.

  • Comment number 8.

    a philosopher by the name John Stuart Mill once said “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” ( an extract from his book on liberty)
    if you do not have the same rules abiding things like smoking and alcohol consumption, why are drugs like cannabis scrutinised?

    On another point- by keeping drugs illegal they have no choice over taking them or not, if they are all legalised, then people have the choice to take them, everyone should have freewill over the choices they make and by having drugs kept illegal we are stripped of this choice.

  • Comment number 9.

    The bottom line is despite the fact that we are all human, racisim CANNOT be denied. I was also told that you have to work twice as hard, this might result in you being the best you can be but that is simply not fair.

    You have to conform to an extent in order to get your foot in the door, so unfortunately more than likely those unemployed/unemployable young black men will have to cut the hair, leave hoodies for the weekend etc and dress smartly, have a level 1 haircut, understand how important body language is and learn what makes them appear threatening to other people and address this.

    This is not all young balck men but I've overheard alot on the buses and in public etc who are unable to express themselves properly.

    It's called adapting to your environment aka 'switching'. Example, most people have a telephone voice which automatically goes at least one octave higher. If I call my brother at work it takes me a couple of seconds to realise it's him - not saying it's right but in certain environments that's how it is.

    A british man goes to Japan to do busines he has to adjust to the culture by bowing as a way of greeting. Another example, we learn other languages to communicate and identify with other people's cultures.

    Main problem is there aren't enough avenues to show young (black esp.) people these things.

    You don't need private school for that just the right person/influence in your life. That can be hard :(


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