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Should the government ban all 'legal highs'?

05:01 UK time, Monday, 19 July 2010

A BBC investigation has found dozens of new legal highs available online following the ban of mephedrone and naphyrone earlier this year. Does a ban ever work?

It also found mephedrone is still widely available online despite the ban in April.
The governments chief drugs advisor professor Les Iverson said Britain was 'floundering' in its attempts to control the online mephedrone market.

Prof Iverson is calling for a blanket ban for all similar legal highs until they have been tested but critics say that could result in more dangerous substances flooding the market.

Do you think all new 'legal highs' should be outlawed? Would that deter people from using them?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    They can ban everything and it wont make an iota of difference.

    Drugs, like prostitution, have been around and will be around forever. There is nothing that can be done that will result in people not taking drugs of one kind or another. Since we and the US spend billions on the "War on Drugs", which hasn't made a jot of difference, why don't they use their heads, ignore the reactionaries, realise they can't succeed and begin legalizing, taxing and controlling the supply and sale of drugs.

    More tax revenue and one less pointless objectives to deal with.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes, lets ban all legal highs like alcohol, tobacco, coffee, chocolate, sugary drinks, food with high fat content...

    Everything commenter #1 I agree with, so there's no damn point reiterating.



    Thank me very much!

  • Comment number 3.

    Len Iverson seems like a Home Office poodle, because uncomfortable truths about drugs aren't acceptable (as the Prof. Nutt sacking debacle illustrates).

    Why is this story about how to monitor and ban the internet as opposed to having a decent drugs policy which - to the extent that it's possible - limits the harm done by drugs, and the crime associated with it?

    Whereas before, mephadrone had cause NO proven deaths or bodily mutilation, and was cheap & crimeless, they're now saying that the inevitable alternatives are causing harm and crime and they can't stop it. Conclusion obvious?!

  • Comment number 4.

    If the illegal highs were made legal then maybe the new legal ones would not be created to evade the law.

  • Comment number 5.

    Let people, sportsmen take their drugs and let them suffer the consequences and destroy themselves . We don't want them.

  • Comment number 6.

    They can ban everything and it wont make an iota of difference.

    Completely agree with paganinflitrator.

    This was obvious 30 years ago.

    Why is the media so retro?? and govt so frightened??

    As the man said, there is more chance of dying falling off a horse than with ecstasy.

    Yet we spend a fortune on supporting the drug gangs.

    Madness.

    JB.

  • Comment number 7.

    Comment #1 by PaganInfiltrator. I couldn't agree more. It's a pity there aren't people with your views in positions of authority instead of the usual flock of sheep, saying 'baaaaan all drugs, they're baaaaad for you'. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 8.

    If we put the money and effort into stopping kids ordering drugs that we put into stopping kids downloading CDs we'd have this problem licked overnight. Trouble is one is pandering to big business and the other is protecting our kids and we all know which the governement prefers to do.

  • Comment number 9.

    Doesn't matter if any of these things are harmful or not.

    The government and a proportion of the populace is deep in the depths of a moral panic. Anything that changes your mental state in an enjoyable way is deemed a wrong and bad, and the desire to do so deemed a moral failure. Therefore if you take these things you are automatically a bad person whose views can safely be discounted.

    So the government will continue to ban anything people use to get 'high', and people will continue to use the illegal substances that are easy to make or grow, and also continue to find new ones that skirt the law.

    It's an expensive battle, a losing battle, and what's more it's a battle against the public. It does nobody much good and does a lot of people a lot of harm (do you think the war on drugs is actually helping the crime rate? Actually helping addicts? think again)

    The most surprising thing to me, and most saddening, is seeing comments like number 4, which effectively says that people who use drugs are scum and should just be allowed to die. It shows a shocking ignorance of the subject (lumping all drugs together for a start) and a horrific callousness.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cannabis has been banned since the seventies.. er... that worked then.

    The government doesn't learn very fast.

  • Comment number 11.

    1. At 06:52am on 19 Jul 2010, PaganInfiltrator

    Couldn't have put it better. End of debate! ;)

  • Comment number 12.

    "All drugs legal or not should be sold in chemist shops' by trained skill people and taxed by the Government, and tested by professionals if people wish to take drugs for fun????? why not make money for the country and support more old and sick people? {No one would force you to take any drugs for fun } This would stop many crimes by junkies and drug dealers, and other low lifes and save many millions on prison and legal costs' for the tax payer could pay much less, The money that would be saved could go to rehab, and creating many new jobs for the unemployed.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yet another Government without a clue when it comes to Drugs policy.


    Banning whatever the latest drug only strikes a blow against invdividual liberties and the manufacturers of that particular drug.
    substitutes will appear and as stated people will have even less idea what any side effects are.

    The only sensible approach is to decriminalise the existing drugs that have been taken for decades to thousands of years.
    At least any side effects of these are better understood.

    The people who willingly declare drugs are bad and must be banned now are more of a danger to society then any average drug user.


    If only the prohibitionists themselves could be banned we would all be a lot better off.

  • Comment number 14.

    The UK laws on recreational drugs are out of date with the demands of the population. There is an evident hypocrisy of permitting drugs like alcohol and nicotine whilst prohibiting a wide range of clinically proven less harmful and less addictive drugs.

    There are several impacts of the blanket prohibition of recreational drugs

    Crime. It is recognised by many that prohibition leads to crime. Where there is a market people will break the law to profit from that market. The social experiment of the prohibition of alcohol in the US is a graphic example of how crime is fuelled when the population does not agree with legislation. The very act of prohibition creates and maintains the gang cultures whish are an essential part of the drug supply chain. The removal of drug money from gangs may see the reduction of gang culture. In addition illegal drug money is used to finance terror and revolutionary organisations.

    Loss of Tax Revenue. The drug market is a multi-million pound business that does not pay tax. If more recreational drugs were to be legalised, the revenue gained from that market could be used in the same way that revenue gained from the alcohol and nicotine can be used to support the NHS and the Exchequer. Revenue would be available to support the education and treatment of recreational drugs as with alcohol and nicotine.

    Quality and Safety. One of the major issues facing customers of the recreational drug market is that they do not know what they are taking. This puts customers at risk of harm due not knowing the active ingredients and to contaminants and materials which are a by-product of manufacture or used to adulterate the drugs. The regulation of a new set of recreational drugs will ensure the quality of the substances and reduce the risks associated with overdose and contraindications.

    It is also the case that the illegality of drugs exposes customers to a criminal culture and the risks associated with that.

    Freedom of Choice. The current blanket prohibition is an infringement on the right of people to make an informed choice as to how they choose to enjoy life. People are, in effect, forced to choose between two of the most deadly and addictive drugs available rather than other less clinically harmful drugs.

    Credibility. The government has lost credibility over the issue of prohibition of drugs. The issue, for example, of the banning of “Meow” without evidence to show substantial harm and the associated resignation of experts undermines the credibility of the government.

  • Comment number 15.

    PaganInfiltrator (comment no 1) is absolutely right. I'd only add that the cash generated could be used to help people who want to quit drugs do so.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why not just allow these people to stuff whatever they want up their nose and inject as much as they wish, then however if they become a vegetable or die as a result close the doors of the NHS etc to them. The same should also be applied to those who abuse alcohol. I for one am fed up of the consequences of these pathetic individuals who steal and plunder to feed their habits and it is time for positive action, those who want help give it to them (only once) as for the rest no drug rehabilitation programmes, no sympathy, and finally no help, after all it was their choice to be on drugs despite all the warnings.

  • Comment number 17.

    If anyone in government reads this HYS and doesn't question current drugs 'policy', they would have to be severely blinkered. What's the betting that 'lobbyists' such as the Portman Group (alcohol) spend considerable time and effort banging on about the dangers of drugs? That would be ironic, wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 18.

    Really? Banning mephedrone hasn't worked? Who'd have thunk it? One would have assumed that when the government pronounced it to be evil and dangerous everyone would have realised that Nanny knows best and stopped wanting it.

    Except Nanny doesn't always know best, and what's worse she doesn't always (or even usually) make rules for our benefit.

    How can it be for the benefit of society to spend billions of pounds of scarce resources on chasing a problem that can't be solved and in many peoples eyes doesn't exist at all?

    The vast majority of problems associated with drug use are caused by the fact that these substances are illegal which means that their supply is controlled by criminals. This also may come as a shock to the prohibitionists but criminals generally don't care about the effect they are having on society or their customers. That's why they bulk up their product with anything from rat poison to brick dust.

    Isn't it about time we abandoned this futile attempt to over control our people and allow them to choose the drug of their choice by regulating the supply and ensuring purity? It seems to have worked reasonably well with the alcohol industry. You rarely read of people dying from drinking bathtub gin these days. I suspect that if alcohol was suddenly put under the same restrictions as cannabis you'd hear of it happening a lot more.

    You might like a glass of scotch in the evening when relaxing. I like to smoke a joint. Neither of us are harming anyone by doing so (although your scotch is more likely to damage you if taken to excess) so why should I not have the same rights as you?

  • Comment number 19.

    If yobs and airheads and junkies and hooligans want to get wasted on substance abuse and risk an appalling death, we should ensure they are in full possession of the facts about what they are doing, and let them get on with it. Who is going to miss a few less wierdos in the country?
    And then when they become ill from their self-harming activities, the NHS should be fully reimbursed the costs of their treatment by the addict or their responsible adult. This way, normal people don't get penalised.

  • Comment number 20.


    Can we ever educate people sufficiently about the dangers (physical and mental)?

    Is drug consumption a measure of "perceived exclusion", "rebel nature" or "empty lives", perhaps there's no one explanation.

    The effective fix seems to be early inclusion (school years) in a meaningful society with values.


  • Comment number 21.

    "Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs "
    A very apt name, especially as they now want to ban every chemical ever known!
    Another name might rhyme with anchor

  • Comment number 22.

    At 08:05am on 19 Jul 2010, Geoffp wrote:
    "Why not just allow these people to stuff whatever they want up their nose and inject as much as they wish, then however if they become a vegetable or die as a result close the doors of the NHS etc to them."
    Hi Geoff, thanks for the incoherant rant. By the way, if someone dies as a result of taking drugs, they wouldn't have much further need for the services of the NHS, would they?

  • Comment number 23.

    Don't they ever learn! Are they thick! Banning does not work!
    Legalise all drugs irrspective of any harm they may do; only then can all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, be treated rationally.
    The truth about the harm they do can then be publicised.
    If people choose to ignore that advice then that is their problem, not mine.
    Neither I, nor the government, have any right to dictate to others when the victim is the user.
    I am not my brother's keeper.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nah. Even if it was possible to regulate against every concoction that hits the streets, why bother? If you're stupid enough to snort an undefined white powder without the slightest interest or regard for what it contains and you kill yourself doing it, you're ultimately helping improving the gene pool by removing yourself from it.

  • Comment number 25.

    What does it take for the government to attain common sense?

  • Comment number 26.

    what so on that basis coffee, alcohol, cigarettes could all be banned. I could also ban myself from going to the gym (damn adrenalin gland) which serves to make me feel euphoric?

    Daily mail paranoia stuff this?

  • Comment number 27.

    The government should publicise the conditions that many of these legal highs are produced under.

    Most of them are mass produced in Chinese laboratories, with none of the safeguards that anything designed for human consumption would normally be subject to.

    Add to which China is a country where 'entrepreneurs' poisoned the milk to make it more profitable and even go so far as market conterfeit eggs (they look like eggs but are actually egg shaped balls of chemicals)


    The message should be that these drugs may well be unsafe.

  • Comment number 28.

    Agree with #1

  • Comment number 29.

    The high influx of unknown and uncontrolled substances on our streets is getting out of control. Banning them is not the answer, as has been proven over the decades. What we need is a government that doesn't pander to sensationalism and can hold an open debate regarding this subject, without head scientists being subjected to unfounded criticism which leads to them having to quit their jobs.

    The politicians are politicians, not scientists. It is blatantly obvious that if the media did not exacersbate the problem (let's not forget that the BBC reported [in very small detail on the website only] that none of the alleged deaths were actually due to Mephodrone) then the debate could be open.

    What is neccessary is the legalisation of 'recreational' drugs in order to control the market, inject stimulus to the economy, save on pointless 'Wars on Drugs' and to tackle the black market. Also it would make the drugs safer, and people would be less scared to ask for advice regarding drugs, if there was not such a taboo set upon the use of them.

    Also, I would like to point out the infringement on human rights, and the inherent right to choose what an adult does to themselves with the money they earn. The counter-argument to my above claim is that receational drug use fuels the underworld, so to speak, but if drugs were more effectively legalised and controlled, this counter-argument doesn't have a metaphorical leg to stand on.

  • Comment number 30.

    I take t this new ban will include alcohol after all it is the most dangerous of all drugs legal or not.

  • Comment number 31.

    There exists something of a beautiful historical irony in this question! European nations and the USA, were the original architects of empire building through the destruction of Asian societies with 'legal highs'! We fed the peoples of Asia and the world on legal heroin, marijuana, alcohol and cocaine. We grew opium in Afghanistan long before the indigenous populations possessed any conception of such drugs, We encouraged the indigenous populations of Australia and America to spend their days in drunken stupor. We fed drugs to the Incas and destroyed ancient civilisations through the destruction of minds with drug addiction!

    The irony is that now our populations are embracing 'legal highs' manufactured in China, as they build the new empire of the sun! HoHoHo

  • Comment number 32.

    Great idea - Let's start with alcohol? - Er oops actually Stupid idea!

  • Comment number 33.

    No we should not ban them. If people want to take drugs it up to them as long as they don't use crime to fund their habit let them get on with it and if it kills them tough.

  • Comment number 34.

    'He (Prof Yes Iverson) said: "I don't want to get to a situation where I have to go to the home secretary every month and ask for something else to be banned.'

    There we have it. Iverson sees his, and the ACMD's, role as a banning organisation.

    No mention of testing for safety, dosage levels etc, just bans.

    It's obvious Iverson is a poodle. The ACMD needs to be removed and replaced by independent scientists. Prof David Nutt may be available, I hear.

  • Comment number 35.

    Start with the two biggest legal highs with the greatest cost to health services: ALCOHOL and FAGS. Ban these and save thousands of lives a year and countless millions to the NHS.

    However you would rapidly find that people want a right to determine how they live.

    And that is how it should be. There should not be legislation against any drugs, only peddling them to young persons should be banned. Also I believe in no NHS support for self-inflicted harm - you make your choice and live with the consequences.

  • Comment number 36.

    17. At 08:10am on 19 Jul 2010, Neil Probert wrote:
    If anyone in government reads this HYS and doesn't question current drugs 'policy', they would have to be severely blinkered. What's the betting that 'lobbyists' such as the Portman Group (alcohol) spend considerable time and effort banging on about the dangers of drugs? That would be ironic, wouldn't it?

    ----

    Historically they don't even listen to their own drugs advisors so the public have no chance.

    Governments are far more worried about the reaction of the bodies they see as opinion-makers - ie. tabloids and the negative reaction of their own party members.

    They don't give a stuff what real people actually think.rs.

    Remember for every government long-term survival is the number one priority.

    Acting in the best interests of society comes a poor second.

  • Comment number 37.

    Bravo, Paganinfiltrator. The first and best comment!

    Also in the news - Heroin, Cocaine, LSD and Cannabis are also widely available, even though they are also banned.

    Honestly - It didn't work for those: why would it have worked for this one? Absolutely no lessons have been learned, have they?

  • Comment number 38.

    The Misuse Of Drugs Act(1971)represents 40 years of complete failure. (1200 registered heroin addicts in 1970 - tens of thousands today. Cannabis use was marginal when I was a lad, now people calculate the numbers around 3-4 million etc.) The act only benefits organised crime and corrupt officialdom). Humans have always taken, and always will take, mind alterants. Prohibition merely creates more crime.
    If society is happy to have potentially addictive drugs like Alcohol sold under license, then it should do the same with all other recreational drugs. Ban all advertising (including that of Alcohol products) and have licensed outlets with registration of Users for those substances known to have potential for harm (on a sliding scale). That way, society can monitor use and risk, Users can guarantee content and crime has one less avenue for profit and the government gets revenue.
    Simples.

  • Comment number 39.

    Legalise it, and tax it. Smoking and alcohol pays for its social harms by way of heavy taxes. Taxes so heavy in fact that they subsidise other areas of healthcare that benefits those that neither smoke nor drink. The current regime offers recreational drug users a tax-free shopping experience. So who pays for the social harm of drug users? You, the tax payer.

    The government is turning its back on a large and ever growing proportion of the population, and upon its responsibility to protect them. The hugely expensive 30 year American War on Drugs can and will never be won, and has only resulted in the financial need to build more and more prisons to hold what are, essentially, non violent citizens. In times of such austerity we can save countless billions by changing our attitudes and realising that there is no difference between those that choose to use recreational drugs and those that do not. We are all just people.

  • Comment number 40.

    Should all new drugs that give one a high!be banned until they are tested,plain and simply YES!
    Is a Ban effective?accross the whole spectre of life,no of course not,but that does not mean it should not be activated,other wise it gives some if not all,the impression that a Government is assenting!all be it silently.

  • Comment number 41.

    About a year ago at a party for a middle-age couple I was at, there were several bunches of flowers for the hostess. The young people at the party discovered in the kitchen several small plastic containers about an inch long and quarter inch diameter, each holding a clear liquid. Several of the youngsters started opening them and drinking the contents.

    I don't know if they thought it was mephedrone, I think they thought it was Vodka. They were quite happy until my wife told them it was the plant food supplied with the floral bouquet’s. They all thought that they had been poisoned! That soon stopped them from 'experimenting'.

    It was after this that the story came out about mephedrone. I would say that the young people of today are no different to the young of my day (1960's) who would take ANYTHING, literally to try and get high.

    However, I have spoken to a lot of young people and the majority do not want anything to do with drugs of any discription, nor the people who use them. A lot of my friends experimented in the 1960's but most, almost all, grew out of it.

    If we have to crack down on the drug culture then we should arrest users as well as the pushers. A lecturer at a further education college told me they regularly get people joining evening classes to meet people who they can supply drugs to. If we arrest every drug user who has been shoplifting, or whatever, to feed their habit and lock them up for a couple of years then maybe, with their client base gone, the drug pushers will go out of business. I say that is where we should put our efforts, not trying to stop a bunch of young fools drinking plant food.

  • Comment number 42.

    stop wasting time, effort and money on attempting to ban everything, Its a futile way of dealing with things such as drugs. makes me think they dont really want a workable scheme, as peddled drugs of all types have a big industry attached to them, and indirectly employ thousands of people, and genereate business. since 90% of crime can be attributed to drugs, just imagine how many law and police personnel who would become defunct, if crime levels suddely dropped?. insurance company staff, people who repair burglary damage, places that replace stolen goods, with new goods?. just imagine the knock on effect to our society, if we did away with most drug related crime. there would be less misery for victims, but more people who are employed by the mess drug criminals create, this is why our society will never do anything constructive to decriminilise or control drugs, as thats too easy.

  • Comment number 43.

    The most addictive drug of all seems to be cherished by the head monkeys. The head monkeys abuse this drug at our expense while seeking to deny us even a taste of it even though it is our birthright.

    This drug is personal power which is only addictive when abused - mostly by the psychopathic head monkeys who seek to have power over us while attempting to deny us our own personal power which, in the main, we would use for, not over, others.

  • Comment number 44.

    Post number 1 correct – if fact, make them legal and a certain quality standard.

  • Comment number 45.

    16. At 08:05am on 19 Jul 2010, Geoffp wrote:
    Why not just allow these people to stuff whatever they want up their nose and inject as much as they wish, then however if they become a vegetable or die as a result close the doors of the NHS etc to them. The same should also be applied to those who abuse alcohol. I for one am fed up of the consequences of these pathetic individuals who steal and plunder to feed their habits and it is time for positive action, those who want help give it to them (only once) as for the rest no drug rehabilitation programmes, no sympathy, and finally no help, after all it was their choice to be on drugs despite all the warnings.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As someone who has grown up in an environment where some of those closest to me have been addicted to drugs (including alcohol), I find this post massively insulting on so many levels.

    Why do you think people descend from responsible, recreational use of substances to addiction? Do you really think it is simply because they are pathetic? Or is it because of the situation and environment they live in?

    Do you not find the link between poverty and drug abuse (including cigarettes) even remotely worth investigating?

    What about people who have endured traumatic events in their lives and have used drugs to obliterate the memories that these events (be it abuse, loss etc.)leave them with?

    I could go on in this vein almost indefinitely.

    Your black and white view of drugs and the social problems that their abuse can cause will ultimately help no-one. As long as drugs are legislated in the absurd way that they are, and as long as people like you continue to hold somewhat medieval views as to why people become addicted to drugs, then we will never get any closer in this country to bringing an end to drug abuse and its associated crimes.

  • Comment number 46.

    The people who want to use these so called legal highs at any cost to themselves or others must be some of the most gullible sheep going, either that or we've bred a nation of total wimps who can't get by without stimulants of one sort or another.

  • Comment number 47.

    41. At 09:14am on 19 Jul 2010, JohnH wrote:
    About a year ago at a party for a middle-age couple I was at, there were several bunches of flowers for the hostess. The young people at the party discovered in the kitchen several small plastic containers about an inch long and quarter inch diameter, each holding a clear liquid. Several of the youngsters started opening them and drinking the contents.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mephedrone is not a plant food, and I don't know anyone who has taken it thinking that its primary use is as a fertilizer.

    The companies that sell it online simply call it a plant food as a legitimate front for its sale.

    This is indicative of the huge amounts of mis-information that are spread daily in the media about drugs culture.

  • Comment number 48.

    Okay, we have a legal high "10 times more potent than cocaine" and one that is untested, not for human consumption and "reflects the effects of ecstasy".

    We know the health issues and usage of cocaine and ecstasy. So legalise them, tax them, control them, and then people who want stimulants can take drugs we know how to deal with and what they have to do to take a measured dosage. We can't just ban anything and everything because we're scared someone will take it - because if there isn't the legal alternative, people are going to just take incalculable risks.

  • Comment number 49.

    Thank you BBC, by making this an issue you are about to destroy thousands of peoples lives because PROHIBITION HAS NEVER EVER EVER EVER WORKED. It only creates more crime and violence.


    Every single substance that is banned is willingly sold by criminal gangs. They deal in the illegal market, isn't that obvious?

    Do you really want more children doing business with them? Do you really want children buying impure substances that are laced with stronger and more addictive drugs? Do you want more children to have access to guns? Because that is exactly what will happen.






  • Comment number 50.

    The government can learn lessons from the 'legal high' industry, but I doubt if it will. Look at it this way: how many turf wars and drive-by shootings occur as a result of them? Do users commit crimes to support their usage? I think none and I think not! The 'legal high' industry is in fact keeping a proportion of the drug problem off the streets simply because it is indeed legal. If I was running this country I think I'd quietly leave the whole thing alone. Wouldn't you?

  • Comment number 51.

    Many have supported the views of #1, with whom I broadly agree. But there are other aspects to the discussion.

    If we are going to legalise psychoactive substances in order to regulate their manufacture and supply and earn taxation revenue, then those that purchase and use them have to do so responsibly, and legislation will have to be passed which ensures that people in certain occupations must refrain from any use that can affect their judgement. For example, police, fire, ambulance, NHS, law, anyone operating dangerous machinery, driving public service vehicles and HGV, airline pilots, air traffic control, teachers - the list goes on and on!

    And what about people with children and carers?

    Also, we have to recognise that the illegal drug trade has been indirectly supported by people who would describe themselves as law-abiding citizens who would never use drugs! They do so by purchasing cheap goods and clothes in pubs and at car boot sales which have obviously been stolen or shoplifted by addicts feeding their habit. If this 'trade' did not exist, many addicts would not get the funds to purchase drugs.

    And where would these regulated 'drugs' be sold? Pharmacies? Supermarkets?

    Having said all of that, we can learn from the experience of Portugal (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal%29 which has decriminalised drug possession and use, where under Results it is stated:

    "A study by Glenn Greenwald (commissioned by the libertarian Cato Institute) found that in the five years after the start of decriminalization, illegal drug use by teenagers had declined, the rate of HIV infections among drug users had dropped, deaths related to heroin and similar drugs had been cut by more than half, and the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction had doubled, while usage in the EU continued to increase, including in states with "hard-line drug policies."[3]

    Since Portugal's policy reform in 2001, the rates of overdoses and HIV cases have been reduced significantly.[9][10][11]"

    All substance use has to be dealt with holistically with sensible, enforcable legislation which enables society to manage behaviour which is deeply engrained and cannot easily be eradicated. As in all things, balance has to be achieved between rights and responsibilities. If you want the right to get high and for society to accept the risks of you doing so, then you have to apply common sense and a degree of restraint.

  • Comment number 52.

    Same old tired arguments are being brought out. But let's stick to the facts.
    A huge proportion of crimes are committed due to drug use. This only happens because drugs are illegal. The harm caused is mostly as a result of the drugs being illegal rather than the drug use itself so the whole thing is self serving. Add to that the fact that much gun crime is due to the drugs trade and none of the current policies make any sense. A huge number of people are being criminalized for no good reason but hey that's never worried the governments after all they declared war on the population years ago with their taxes and assorted vehicle scams. If they really cared about society they would rethink the whole thing but let's face it, the real point here is "control".

  • Comment number 53.

    While I agree with the idea of ending prohibition on drugs and taxing them, unfortunately I envisage a situation where they're priced and/or taxed so highly (see also cigarettes) that people are just going to get them elsewhere and end up getting a lower quality & hence more dangerous product or just resorting to crime to get money to obtain the drugs (i.e as happens now). So while it would be an improvement, it won't necessarily solve all the problems.

  • Comment number 54.

    It is obvious that the currently strategy on drugs is not currently working at all...., the fact is if people want them then a market will be created to provide them.

    It's a simple fact.

    To address this situation two things should be done.

    1. Legalise & moniter drug users.

    2. Attempt to reduce the factors in life that cause people to get into addiction.

    3. Relise that recreational drug use is no different to going to the pub for "some" beers & getting drink, smoking a fag or drinking some red bull.

    Oh, and to all those people spouting that drug users should be left to die, the NHS should not pay for them.

    Unless you are a T-Total non drinking, non smoking, non fatty food eating person you are a total hypocrit.

    Infact if people stopped abusing food/fags & booze then people would live longer.

    What happens then?, more people in care, taking pensions, getting a vast array of late life illness's which cost a fortune.

    The fact is a smoker/drinker or a fat person costs the NHS less than your average person..., because they work, pay taxes then DIE before getting too infirm.

    So please stop the rubbish about "OHH STOP THE NHS PAYING FOR THEM, I DONT WANT TO PAY FOR FATTIES OR SMOKERS"

    I don't want to pay for people who want to live to 100 either, but i have to.

    I also dont want to pay for people injured in sporting accidents, but i have to.

    I also dont want to pay for people who choose to have children, but i have to.

    I dont want to pay for schools when i dont have kids, but i have to.

    I dont want to pay for pensions & by the time im pulling a penson (im 25 currently, so by the time im that old the pension age will probly be 90) ill probly be dead.

    Do you see where this "i dont want to pay for" attitude gets you

  • Comment number 55.

    Let us change this debate and have another one,

    Why do main stream UK citizens think that taking drugs is not really a crime?

  • Comment number 56.

    Drugs are used for different reasons, sometimes for the supposed excitement of the "high" that they bring, sometimes to escape the harsh realities of life, sometimes to escape physical pain.

    So why not ensure that other opportunities for excitement are available, especially for our youth but also for the generality. The sheer tedium of city landscapes in our land are so appalling, many of the drab estates even from Victorian times should have been bulldozed 50 years ago. Parks and sportsfields should be an integral part of every residential area, halls for theatre and music should be available to all. But beyond that the sort of excitment and challenge available to a few through such organisations as the Outward Bound and the Sailing Ship trusts should all be expanded so that opportunities are expanded for all youth to develop a taste for healthy excitement. It is true that many such schemes and organisations already exist but they need to be mulitplied and well funded in order to encompass all. It is not just the youth who like excitement in their lives, but certainly in youth the world needs to be an exciting place.

    The harsh realities of life are largely brought about in our society by it's extreme competitive nature where the strong take far too much and the weakest go to the wall. It is all very well to talk of equal opportunities for all but in reality nothing will change for the better until the very nature of our capitalistic society is changed and that is most certainly not what our government of the millionaires is aiming to do. When human values are put onto every balance sheet then and only then might we find ourselves in a society where the use of drugs (including drink) is no longer seen as a necessity to escape boredom and drudgery.

    The escape of pain, physical, emotional, real or imagined is a problem for the various branches of medicine. Human beings need assistance from one another throughout their lives in many ways and existing with pain is something some of us find ourselves lumbered with, the resolution of the problem is sometimes impossible there being no cure from prescribed or proscribed drugs. In these cases a lot more human understanding and assistance might help, but then in life for most of us there are very few absolutes, apart from death, taxes and greedy politicians.

    We shall never get rid of non-prescribed drugs even if privatised medicine deprives us of the prescribed ones, but we could do a lot about creating a society where demand for such is very much reduced.

  • Comment number 57.

    add up the entire cost of the war on drugs, include all the crime costs , lost tax revenue, and wasted time in governmental meetings,,,,

    ....then look at the defecit.

    Can we afford to live this idealistic, unrealistic way we currently knee jerk to ?

    Accept humans for what humans are, and stop trying to force us into something else based on some puritanical tyrannical viewpoint.

  • Comment number 58.

    It’s the dishonesty and evasiveness that confuses me. The arguments get made on medical grounds, the medical evidence turns out not to support them and then we get a lot of handwaving about ‘other issues’ and ‘sending the wrong message’ without any explanation as to what these issues are or what the right message might be.

    The argument from crime is bogus on every rational level. It’s the illegality that causes the crime (yes, even stealing to feed an addiction - state regulation can control the price, availability and quality of drugs in a way that’s impossible at the moment). All the available evidence contradicts the ‘gateway drug’ theory.

    So what is it? What’s the problem? If you think there’s a moral case for restricting certain kinds of fun, mildly risky but non-productive activity that’s fine – I don’t get it (why not shut down Alton Towers or ban mountain climbing?) but I can see how it’s arguable. If you think that there’s something fundamentally and objectively wrong about artificially altered mental states – well, again, I can’t really see this myself but I’m open to hearing an intelligently put case on the matter.

    Instead we get the same old rubbish – the government blarts out discredited data and free-floating piety while boring old hippies bang on about the multiple uses of hemp and how stoned people don’t start fights (they don’t start anything, guys, that’s the problem…) and paranoid ex-ravers posit brewing industry conspiracies. Can we at least move this thing on?

  • Comment number 59.

    Governments want to ban legal drugs because they make so much money policing illegal ones.

  • Comment number 60.

    Agreed #51.

    I have to admit I am very suprised at Portugal's results, I have always stood for the idea that to beat heroin and other 'hard' drugs they need to be legalised, but I never thought it would be so effective if you look at the figures.

    As has been said, the government can make any 'drug' illegal, substitutes or alternatives will turn up on the open market. There will be a lag time before the authorities cotton on and by that time there will be a new batch of them on sale.

    The one thing a lot of people forget are a lot of these drugs are 'substitutes'. I take the example of 'Spice', this was a legal Cannabus substitute and until recently legal for sale in the UK. It was legal, and there was no quality control, or research or any scientific data available on the product at all. All you had to go by was the pack of the packet which stated 'Blue Lotus' amongst other strange plants. When the substance was analyzed, none of these were present - and a synthetic Cannaboid - JWH-018 was found.

    The product is essentially a cannabus substitute however the health effects are still largely unknown. If Cannabus was legal, then the public would be able to use a product that has been deemed 'safer than cigarrettes or alcohol' by the World Health Organisation. Yet repeatedly our government ignores any advice given to them on the matter.

    I personally think these drugs should be made illegal as any consumer has no idea how unsafe they are, but make the original drugs they are trying to replace legal. At least we know what they are, and there has been extensive research done on them so the risks are well known.

  • Comment number 61.

    Why is the bbc conducting surveys, you should be reporting the news not creating it. No wonder the licence fee is so high.

    People will always find a substances to get high.

  • Comment number 62.

    Should the government ban all 'legal highs'?

    Bungee jumping is a legal "high", a better adrenalin rush than any social drug I may have tampered with in the past. Thing is it doesnt last long and the ceilings in niteclubs arent hi enough to do it in them.

    A fact is that being Prime Minsister or an MP is a type of legal hi, I dont mind if they are banned, then we can get down to a "big society" without all the small restrictive minds.

  • Comment number 63.

    The government should assess the strength and complex of the substances. Cannabis, in proper THC level, is perfectly safe and healthy a smoke. Other chemicals, though, if too strong or not compatible to the human body could damage or kill.

  • Comment number 64.

    55. At 10:04am on 19 Jul 2010, Ron wrote:

    Let us change this debate and have another one,

    Why do main stream UK citizens think that taking drugs is not really a crime?

    ..........................................

    It's only a crime if it's written in law. If it's not then no crime is taking place. Many people think that the act of taking a substance is no different to having a drink or a smoke, and argue that many illegal drugs are less addictive and less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. The fact that they are illegal creates crime and funds criminal gangs.

    I personally don't take drugs because I don't want my money to fund more violence, forced drug trafficking, forced prostitution, child trafficking, arms dealing and so on.

    By making all legal highs illegal, those who do want to take or experiment with drugs, but don't want to fund crime, will have no alternative option.

    No one benefits from drugs being illegal apart from criminals.

  • Comment number 65.

    The majority of postings advocate legalising all drugs. I am surprised there is no posting from anyone representing government.
    I advocate legalisation in principle but recognise that there are serious problems with implementation of such a policy i.e. the profit to be gained from acquiring drugs via the local chemist and then peddling them in countries where drug use would still be illegal. I suspect the number of "addicts" would soar for that very reason.
    It would be a good start for the government to publically accept the validity of the legalisation argument and declare that it is working towards brokering an international agreement on the way forward towards international legalisation.

  • Comment number 66.

    No the Ban wont work. Never has, never will.

    Don't agree with the posts saying legalise them and tax them though.

    You're saying it's OK and you're happy for people to be drug users? Your freinds, family, and loved ones?

    Yes I know they have the choice and they'll do it if they want. I understand that, I also understand that the tax will be a source of revenue but is that REALLY & HONESTLY the message you want the government to give? OR is it a case of "what else can we do"?

  • Comment number 67.

    We are never going to win the "War on Drugs" so maybe now is the time to look at perhaps legalising them. I would however say that this must be coupled with quite severe penalties attached to the misuse that will eventually arise from taking drugs, this would have to include being under the influence whilst driving or operating machinery, being in charge of children including your own and any anti-social behaviour that may occur.
    And I don't mean just a slap on the wrist with a small fine but heavy fines with imprisonment for repeat offenders, if drugs were to be eventually legalised we need to ensure a level of responsibility is maintained.

  • Comment number 68.

    In the news report the presenter indicated that the fact that these highs were legal prompted people to purchase and use them, based upon a misguided presumption that their legal status indicated that the drugs would be safe.

    I feel that this is only part of the reason for their rise in popularity.

    A large number of people simply like to take drugs, and the fact that they are willing to take unknown and untested substances simply because they are legal indicates that there is a significant portion of the drug taking community that wish to avoid conftontation with the law during their recreational drug use.

    They are prepared to put their health at risk rather than face a criminal record or associate with criminals in order to maintain their supply.

    This migration towards legal alternatives, which offer no social or health benefits from traditional drugs (indeed the unknown long term effects could even be worse) demonstrates a flaw in the governments policy of outlawing recreational drugs, simply on the basis that they are drugs. This does not stop people taking drugs...

    Maybe it is time for a serious debate about the decriminalisation, legalisation, licensing of drugs to be undertaken. If people have access to a clean, legal and controlled source of recreational drugs (as with alcohol) not only would this prevent many from becoming involved with criminal activity, it would reduce the burden upon the NHS (both long term and short term) and open up a valuable source of revenue through taxation.

  • Comment number 69.

    Yes ban “all legal highs” after all once a drug is illegal people stop taking it – that is why so few people take drugs like cannabis or cocaine. And how do we define “legal high” – the most popular, most addictive and most toxic “legal high” is alcohol – we all know how well banning that turned out when America tried it.

  • Comment number 70.

    66. At 10:34am on 19 Jul 2010, Nakor wrote:
    You're saying it's OK and you're happy for people to be drug users? Your freinds, family, and loved ones?

    (friends is spelled like so - an easy way to remember this is "i before e except after c") I expect it was the drugs, apparently they addle the brain.

    I think you'll find that many already are "users", whether it be legal drugs like alochol/tobacco or illegal ones like cannabis. The number of potsmokers is hugely underestimated by the authorities.

    All people want is some honesty and a bit less hypocricy. Sadly not something that I'm expecting from the latest bunch of crooks that are masquerading as politicians. Even my 84 year old mum gas finally given up hope of seeing a politician keep their promises.

  • Comment number 71.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  • Comment number 72.

    Banning does not help and makes the situation even more dangerous. After the ban of the relatively-harm-less Mephedrone, people turned to Naphyrone which is a more dangerous drugs. Regulate and control certain drugs like the regulated and controlled soft-drug called alcohol and you will solve a lot of problems. Portugal has a liberal drugs policy and they have less problems.

  • Comment number 73.

    .Hi.

    Think about it.

    As more and more 'chemical mixes' are banned, the number of available 'good,legal highs'' fall.

    The demand will still be there, but the chemical mixes 'side effects'get 'worse and worse'.
    [Assuming there is not a limitless amount of natural and synthetic drugs that could possibly be worth creating.]

    Of course innovation may lead to 'better' legal highs sometimes but they will still, in time, get banned if we are consistent.

    Therefore,

    Q1:What's more damaging ??

    Governments banning every mix that could harm, or allowing 'business' and'innovation' by demand, of several mixes, to develop and perfect it self in it's own time.

  • Comment number 74.

    the ban on drugs does more harm than the drugs

  • Comment number 75.

    Hang on, my legal high comes from looking at the birds (feathered) variety. Are you going to ban that next?

    Basically a silly idea. Drugs have been around for centuries. Alcohol was probably the first, it is still lawful although binge drinking has certainly been around for many centuries. It was rife in the Georgian and Victorian eras for instance. Banning things solves nothing, simply adds another crime to the list. It might be better to legalise them, thus removing a lot of the kick of using them, and then taxing them. More money for the government that way!

  • Comment number 76.

    66. At 10:34am on 19 Jul 2010, Nakor wrote:
    You're saying it's OK and you're happy for people to be drug users? Your freinds, family, and loved ones?

    Well – it would depend on what drugs, the effect it was having on them, whether it was preventing them from doing things that they might find more fulfilling in the long term.

    Your phrasing, though, seems to suggest that there’s something fundamentally wrong with recreational drug use regardless of any of these factors. I am genuinely interested in what you think this is – it’s not a viewpoint I understand at all and I’d like to hear it stated so that I can engage with it properly.

  • Comment number 77.

    The problem isn't the substances in question and how to 'ban' them. The problem is how the law allows you to buy substances sold as 'research chemicals' or 'plant' food with less regulation than for the sale of vitamin pills. A Vitamin C tablet has to meet pharmaceutical standards of production and contain exactly 60mg of Vitamin C and list all the other ingredients used to make the tablet.

    'Legal Highs' may or may not contain the substance you think you're buying, can't guarantee the dose and certainly can't guarantee the purity. Most are made in China, a country with manufacturing laws so lax a load of kids died of kidney failure from drinking baby milk bulked out with melamine! The methadrone or whatever you think you're buying is the least of the risk of taking this stuff.

  • Comment number 78.

    Yes, I agree with PaganInfiltrator (post 1) also.

    The fact that the government continually spout misinformation on drugs makes me wonder why they REALLY want drugs banned?

  • Comment number 79.

    "63. At 10:27am on 19 Jul 2010, sean56z wrote:
    The government should assess the strength and complex of the substances. Cannabis, in proper THC level, is perfectly safe and healthy a smoke. Other chemicals, though, if too strong or not compatible to the human body could damage or kill. "

    Complete nonsense. What 'health benefits' does smoking cannabis have? The same as smoking tobacco. None at all. Cannabis smoke is extremely carcinogenic and is responsible for a small epidemic of oral cancer in people younger than me (31 BTW)

    I actually want cannabis legalised and taxed but people trying to claim is 'totally safe' or even beneficial are not helping this.

  • Comment number 80.

    Well I think that we are all losing the plot here. I think that if you went into any DIY store or Supermarket, there are innumerable innocuous products that if taken or consumed contrary to their usage you could probably get some form of elation...... Before of course it kills you. I have just repainted a flat roof with a Proprietary brand of Acrylic paint. After an hour I was stoned... Double vision and felt drunk. I wouldn’t of course recommend its inhalation, and I did use it as specified, but you cannot ban everything can you? I can clearly remember years ago, whilst a Cop, finding people Dead who had abused, Butane Lighter Fuel, Polish, Petrol, Glue, one Had injected medicine stolen from Veterinary clinic,One had Drunk Anti freeze !! etc etc. Some really crazy and daft people out there. It’s about time people were more responsible for the consequences of their own actions, and not have a Nanny state to look after them. I always remember taking my young children to the zoo. The Lion cage had do not touch in big Red letters on it. My 6 yr old son enquired what would happen if he put his hand through. I said , you would make the Lion very happy to have some fresh food, and I would have a spare bedroom…. Point Taken ?

  • Comment number 81.

    Tax them but don't ban.
    Banning alcohol didn't work and won't work. Same with smoking.
    It's all about education. As long as people understand the effects of the "legal high" and as long as it doesn't harm others then what's the problem?
    Understanding the "legal highs" is the way to go so one can act responsibly.

  • Comment number 82.

    Does no one ever learn the lesson of history?
    Prohibition doesn't work, except to provide the criminal underworld with its oxygen.

  • Comment number 83.

    If you'd like to know what happens when all drugs are freely available, there's no need to decide this experimentally. There used to be a time when morphine could be bought at the drugstore and cocaine was added to beverages by clever industrialists. We've been there before, we didn't like it.

    On the other hand, the fight against drugs has some nasty consequences as
    "The State of Texas put to death David Lee Powell after being on death row for 32 years" (for killing a police officer while on meth-amphetamine)
    http://www.lucindawilliams.com/

    I suggest the Dutch model. I don't know how we do it here, but it works!
    Really, if you are looking for SOLUTIONS go to Holland - before our stupid politicians change the "lenient policy" on (soft)drugs again.

  • Comment number 84.

    70. At 10:58am on 19 Jul 2010, BAmberGas wrote:
    66. At 10:34am on 19 Jul 2010, Nakor wrote:
    You're saying it's OK and you're happy for people to be drug users? Your freinds, family, and loved ones?

    (friends is spelled like so - an easy way to remember this is "i before e except after c") I expect it was the drugs, apparently they addle the brain.

    ...

    All people want is some honesty and a bit less hypocricy. Sadly not something that I'm expecting from the latest bunch of crooks that are masquerading as politicians. Even my 84 year old mum gas finally given up hope of seeing a politician keep their promises.


    Hypocrisy is spelled with an S, as shown by my example. Your 84 year old mum gas I will give you as a typo.

    Regards, a self confessed, brain addled pot user.


  • Comment number 85.

    79. At 11:38am on 19 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    What 'health benefits' does smoking cannabis have?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why not ask the thousands who are prescribed it medically in the US?

    I'm not trying to claim it's totally safe. Inhaling any hot smoke is probably going to do your lungs and mouth some damage. This does not mean that it doesn't have specific health benfits for people with specific illnesses (migraines, epilepsy, depression).

  • Comment number 86.

    Why are drugs banned? Seems to me that it's not for the reasons the government state, as their views and reasons continually fly in the face of scientific fact and opinion.
    The REAL reason the government don't want you taking drugs is simple.
    They want their drones to be fit and healthy to go to work every morning.
    They promote this really dull ideology of clean living.
    I wonder how many of the "clean living" people are dissatisfied with life in general?
    Man has looked for ways to "get out of his face" since the dawn of time, so to me it seems pretty natural.
    The governments views on drugs, seems to be like the Catholic Church's views on sex.
    Whilst openly telling you not to do it, behind the scenes there are many who are!
    Let's look at the problem from another angle.
    The British and US governments don't seem to mind going to war when it's in their interests. They know where the drugs are. They know where they're grown. They DO know the people involved, but yet they do nothing?
    The war on drugs seems to be a charade played out to keep the low-browed god-fearing electorate on their side, OR could it be that they've got something genuine to gain from drugs being kept illegal?
    I don't know which decade the war on drugs started, but if it was REALLY a war, the government would've surrendered years ago as they've been on a hiding to nothing for long enough!

  • Comment number 87.

    For every one you ban, 5 more will appear on the market.
    How can you control that?

    Simple, do something other than banning.

  • Comment number 88.

    NO we should not ban them, we should be looking at rolling back the rubbish of the Labour Government (re-classifying cannabis despite scientific evidence).

    Let people live their lives, its not the place of government to tell people how to live. Legalise and tax such things as drugs and stop listening to those that react to every story with "ban it". I'd rather bannish them.

  • Comment number 89.

    Yes, of course they should be banned.

    After all, heroin and cocaine have been banned, and no-one ever uses them any more.

    Oh, wait a minute...

  • Comment number 90.

    Peter_Sym "Cannabis smoke is extremely carcinogenic and is responsible for a small epidemic of oral cancer in people younger than me (31 BTW)"

    Where is the evidence of oral cancer?

    THC has anti-carcinogenic properties.

    Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

    Large Study Finds No Link between Marijuana and Lung Cancer
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=large-study-finds-no-link&modsrc=related_links

    Cannabis may help the war on cancer
    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/222262-cannabis-may-help-the-war-on-cancer

  • Comment number 91.

    You are never going to stop people abusing themselves until you are prepared to listen to their problems and actually do something to help them. The problem is that actually caring for other people costs money and i am afraid our selfish capitalist world and government does not want to do that!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    85. At 12:01pm on 19 Jul 2010, tossacoin wrote:
    79. At 11:38am on 19 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    What 'health benefits' does smoking cannabis have?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why not ask the thousands who are prescribed it medically in the US?

    I'm not trying to claim it's totally safe. Inhaling any hot smoke is probably going to do your lungs and mouth some damage. This does not mean that it doesn't have specific health benfits for people with specific illnesses (migraines, epilepsy, depression).


    By that argument chemotherapy drugs are 'healthy' too. A medication prescribed by a doctor to treat a diagnosed illness (and very few people taking cannabis extract as a therapy smoke it) is not the same as claiming a drug is 'healthy'.

  • Comment number 93.

    It's funny how alcohol is legal but casues thousands of deaths per year, and £M's in alcohol-related illness and violence. However, Cannabis is illegal but has not been proven to have caused even ONE death in the UK, and has actually been proven to help combat the symptoms of multiple-sclerosis. However, I would not like to see Alcohol banned. It seems the only sane argument is to legalise everything. We can then concentrate on dealing with the most problematic of "legal" drugs, which would probably be Heroin and Alcohol.

  • Comment number 94.

    The government want to ban all drugs and promote healthy lifestyles of the populace so that we all live to a ripe old age, whilst at the same time banging on about there being too many old people and having to pay them pensions and hospital/care bills.

    Make your minds up, eh!

  • Comment number 95.

    At 08:19am on 19 Jul 2010, Neil Probert wrote:
    At 08:05am on 19 Jul 2010, Geoffp wrote:
    "Why not just allow these people to stuff whatever they want up their nose and inject as much as they wish, then however if they become a vegetable or die as a result close the doors of the NHS etc to them."
    Hi Geoff, thanks for the incoherant rant. By the way, if someone dies as a result of taking drugs, they wouldn't have much further need for the services of the NHS, would they?
    At 09:31am on 19 Jul 2010, tossacoin wrote:
    16. At 08:05am on 19 Jul 2010, Geoffp wrote:
    Why not just allow these people to stuff whatever they want up their nose and inject as much as they wish, then however if they become a vegetable or die as a result close the doors of the NHS etc to them. The same should also be applied to those who abuse alcohol. I for one am fed up of the consequences of these pathetic individuals who steal and plunder to feed their habits and it is time for positive action, those who want help give it to them (only once) as for the rest no drug rehabilitation programmes, no sympathy, and finally no help, after all it was their choice to be on drugs despite all the warnings.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As someone who has grown up in an environment where some of those closest to me have been addicted to drugs (including alcohol), I find this post massively insulting on so many levels.

    Why do you think people descend from responsible, recreational use of substances to addiction? Do you really think it is simply because they are pathetic? Or is it because of the situation and environment they live in?

    Do you not find the link between poverty and drug abuse (including cigarettes) even remotely worth investigating?

    What about people who have endured traumatic events in their lives and have used drugs to obliterate the memories that these events (be it abuse, loss etc.)leave them with?

    I could go on in this vein almost indefinitely.

    Your black and white view of drugs and the social problems that their abuse can cause will ultimately help no-one. As long as drugs are legislated in the absurd way that they are, and as long as people like you continue to hold somewhat medieval views as to why people become addicted to drugs, then we will never get any closer in this country to bringing an end to drug abuse and its associated crimes.


    If you both read my supposed rant you will see I am advocating for people to be allowed to use whatever substances they wish but then that they live with the consequences.
    I to have suffered trauma and horrible events in my life but did not resort to the use of drugs. These problems are known as "life".
    My son and daughter in law are both Pharmacists who own their own business and have both suffered abuse at the hands of addicts.

  • Comment number 96.

    14. At 08:03am on 19 Jul 2010, MartinP wrote:... excellent post Martin.


    The biggest hypocrisy of the lot is that the legal DRUG alcohol is advertised on TV when children are watching. You need no further evidence of where the government's priorities lie.

    I demand an alternative to the 'alcohol monopoly'... not everybody likes that stuff and most people need to get 'off their face' from time to time, to relieve themselves from the misery of modern life.

  • Comment number 97.

    85. At 12:01pm on 19 Jul 2010, tossacoin wrote:
    79. At 11:38am on 19 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    What 'health benefits' does smoking cannabis have?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why not ask the thousands who are prescribed it medically in the US?

    I'm not trying to claim it's totally safe. Inhaling any hot smoke is probably going to do your lungs and mouth some damage. This does not mean that it doesn't have specific health benfits for people with specific illnesses (migraines, epilepsy, depression).


    By that argument chemotherapy drugs are 'healthy' too. A medication prescribed by a doctor to treat a diagnosed illness (and very few people taking cannabis extract as a therapy smoke it) is not the same as claiming a drug is 'healthy'.


    Cannabis doesn't have to be smoked for it to have an effect on the user!
    It can be swallowed, though the effect isn't as instant as smoking it.

  • Comment number 98.

    its_dave_here: “They want their drones to be fit and healthy to go to work every morning.”

    Yes, damn the evil government, with its nefarious plans to encourage us to make some sort of reasonable contribution to society via taxable labour.

    Seriously, do you think this sort of thing advances the debate? Or do you think it makes the pro-legalisation crowd (of which I’m one) look like a bunch of paranoid losers demanding the right to unlimited and consequence free self-gratification like a fat toddler screeching for sweeties?

  • Comment number 99.

    I read a Bill Bryson travel book where he went back to the USA and in one chapter met an old university friend who asked him if he had any pot, which he didn't. Apparently all the middle-aged ex-hiipies have given up pot mainly due to the draconion laws introduced where you can loose your house if your kids are caught smoking or if you have any within 1000 yards of a school you are sent to jail for 25 years.

    We could end the problem of drugs by arresting and imprisoning several thousand drug users. Yes it would cost a lot of money but as people on here have been saying that most petty crime is linked to drug taking then it should pay for itself.

    When people here about someone they know being locked up I think the use of 'recreational' drugs will decline significantly.

    The number of young people taking these drugs is relatively small. This call by the chief drugs advisor sounds to me a call for more funding.

    And anyone who thinks I am being too negative and trot out the old claim that it dosn't do any harm and if we made it legal the problem will go away, all I say is go to my local health clinic, any day of the week, and watch the morons antics as they wait for their methodone.

  • Comment number 100.

    92. At 12:17pm on 19 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    By that argument chemotherapy drugs are 'healthy' too. A medication prescribed by a doctor to treat a diagnosed illness (and very few people taking cannabis extract as a therapy smoke it) is not the same as claiming a drug is 'healthy'.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For someone requiring them, chemotherapy drugs are 'healthy'. I didn't claim that pot was healthy (I can see the damage it's done to my own health - not in the same league as alcohol, but noticeable nonetheless), just that it is 'healthy' for some people with specific illnesses.

    Incidentally, a huge number of people take meicinal cannabis by smoking it. If you're ever in Los Angeles take a minute to visit one of the many cannabis clinics. The product that they mostly sell is locally grown 'skunk' and by far the easiest way to ingest it is by smoking.

 

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