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The war on drugs

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Mark Easton | 10:20 UK time, Wednesday, 30 July 2008

In most people's minds perhaps, the front line troops in the fight against drugs are police on our streets.

Heroin and needleThe political rhetoric focuses on the need for robust enforcement - zero tolerance and tough sanctions for dealers and users. But what if it doesn't actually work? What if it actually makes the situation worse?

Well, those are questions posed by today's report from the independent think tank the UK Drugs Policy Commission [pdf 632KB].

Despite hundreds of millions of pounds spent each year on UK drug enforcement activity, the commissioners argue there is "remarkably little evidence of its effectiveness".

Drug markets, they conclude, are "extremely resilient" and all the criminal justice activity has had "little street-level impact".

Indeed they go further, warning that law enforcement efforts can have a significant negative impact.

Such conclusions are reached by looking at the illicit drug market as a business. It is, they say, one of the most lucrative of its type in the world - worth an estimated £5.3bn - equivalent to a third of the entire tobacco market and over 40% of the alcohol industry.

They estimate there are 300 major drug importers, 30,000 wholesalers and 70,000 street dealers on the streets of the UK.

Currently a quarter of the UK government's drug strategy budget is spent on reducing the supply of these illegal substances - £380m in 2005/6. What impact has that had?

"Law enforcement efforts have had little adverse effect on the availability of illicit drugs in the UK" say the commissioners Seizures of Class A drugs have more than doubled in a decade but average street prices, they claim, have fallen consistently for heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis.

"The drug networks are highly fluid, adapting effectively to law enforcement interventions", says the report. If supplies are hit for a time they simply reduce the purity level of their product increasing their profit margins.

The commission accepts that supply reduction has an important part to play in harm reduction but using the criminal justice system to do it may be making matters worse.

Police crackdowns can, they say, increase threats to public health and safety by altering the behaviour of individual drug users and potentially setting up violent drug gang conflicts as dealers move to new areas.

It is in many ways a bleak assessment of the government's entire approach to the drugs problem. Not only do they question the ineffectiveness of police activity but there is also criticism of that other key plank of the official drug strategy - treatment.
They suggest the programme suffers from high attrition rates, low completion rates, inconsistent quality and availability of services.

So what are the answers?

The UKDPC do not call for legalisation or decriminalisation overtly, but they do point out that while "the illegal status of drugs is likely to have contained their availability and use to some extent...drug laws do not appear to have direct effects on the prevalence of drug use: 'tougher' enforcement measures have not necessarily deterred use".

Instead of filling prisons with thousands of low-level dealers from sink estates, the UKDPC proposes a more targeted approach - forming local partnerships to channel users into treatment, working with communities to help them become more resilient to drugs, disrupting open street-level markets which affect community confidence but not simply driving the drug gangs elsewhere.

To some extent, the harm reduction message has already been accepted. The Director General of Serious Organised Crime Agency Bill Hughes recently told MPs: "in the past too much emphasis has been placed on lower level street deals. What we are trying to deal with are the major importers."

The drug strategy for England and Wales published last April makes remarkably few claims for the effectiveness of police crackdowns.

While citing "robust enforcement" as a key plank of their approach, evidence that it actually works is limited to a few lines: "There is some evidence that enforcement activity can affect drug prices" it states.

'Some evidence' is hardly a ringing endorsement of the tactic, and the claim that "there is evidence of the UK wholesale price being greater than that in continental markets" does not reflect the UKDPC's research showing falls in British street prices over the past decade.

The strategy also claims that "tough sanctions...have contributed to a fall in recorded acquisitive crime of around 20%". They refer to the flagship Drugs Intervention Programme which forces offenders into treatment.

However, my analysis suggests that such crime was falling faster before the scheme was introduced. The British Crime Survey shows that household crime in England and Wales fell 7% a year before the programme and 4% afterwards.

Today's report calls for rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of enforcement, but it seems unlikely that any government would want to question whether getting tough with drug abusers on our streets actually works.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:12am on 30 Jul 2008, epipeman wrote:

    Prohibition did not work in America, so why have we assumed that criminalising drugs would work any better? It's time to take the drugs out of the hands of criminals and put them to work for the state by taxing sales. Forcing addicts to obtain supplies from crooks can never be a good idea.

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  • 2. At 11:20am on 30 Jul 2008, DaveyCooper wrote:

    Prohibition has never worked and will never work. The criminalisation of drug use simply draws people towards the underworld. Lets decriminalise drugs and get the problems associated with drug (mis)use out in the open.

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  • 3. At 11:33am on 30 Jul 2008, mishbrot wrote:

    I agree that prohibition clear hasn't work but unfortunately the majority of people simply cannot yet accept this. Decriminalisation of illegal drugs is seen as promotion. Also for example the idea giving heroin addicts free controlled doses of heroin with clean needles is deplored as it is seen as using tax payers money to pay for addicts habits. The argument that this will cost less than the current war on drugs and the concomitant health and social breakdown seems to cut no ice. This mainly because they feel the former is morally wrong. Personally I feel it is the greater moral wrong is to carry on with the war on drugs as it has so many innocent victims.

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  • 4. At 11:36am on 30 Jul 2008, stanilic wrote:

    The authoritarian nature of UK anti-drug policy has been in place for almost forty years. At the time of its inception the government of the day was warned that the measures of street searches and prosecution would not work of themselves as this was just tackling the symptoms.

    There needed to be a wider context to enforcement as addiction is a complex condition. This report just confirms what a lot of us have known for a very long time.

    The only successful drugs policy has to be built around the active reduction of demand through public information and the treatment of users. These elements of drug policy are not resourced properly and even imprisoned users can get supplies quite readily.

    One the other side of the equation the reality is we are looking at institutional failure on the part of the police, the prisons and the law.

    The police have been quite happy to lose control of the streets to the criminal element. Their interventions are entirely reactive and superficial. The prisons have also opted out of treating addicted offenders for some bizarre reason.

    The policy has failed simply because nobody can make it work.

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  • 5. At 11:36am on 30 Jul 2008, bigpond wrote:

    I don't really know why we are still discussing this issue after so many centuries and decades. Drug policing does not work.
    I seems to me that governments just believe that changing tack on drugs is an admission of failure and a tacit approval of the drugs industry.
    Also, just imagine the law enforcement agencies that would not have a raison d'etre.

    Maybe one day a politician and a government will have enough courage to change attention from the supply side to the demand side by making drugs available and avoiding the crime associated with sustaining of habits.

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  • 6. At 11:39am on 30 Jul 2008, Duncan Stott wrote:

    The best way to tackle crime and get tough with criminal gangs is to minimise the opportunity to make money via illicit activity. The prohibition of drugs gives criminals exactly this opportunity. Legalisation would pull the rug from under their feet.

    Being tough on drugs is being soft on criminals.

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  • 7. At 11:40am on 30 Jul 2008, Charles Matthews wrote:

    The number of heavyweight law officers calling for the legalisation and management of the supply of currently illegal drugs is growing.

    Among the more notable are LEAP; Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in the US which includes DEA officers, lawyers and judges. Here's their website: http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

    All the current laws are doing is making criminals very rich; so rich, they can buy virtually anything and it's the addicts who suffer.

    The case to go beyond de-criminalisation and legalise drugs is so obvious that, the fact our political leaders can't see it, only throws their crass stupidity and removal from normal life into yet sharper relief.

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  • 8. At 11:43am on 30 Jul 2008, littlefiercemum wrote:

    I think it would help if the media stopped talking about drug hauls in terms of monetary value. When large amounts of cash are mentioned as 'street value' the ears of would-be dealers prick up! if it was reported in terms of potential Deaths it would not sound so appealing. It might do more to discourage those not yet involved, and maybe even make others think again.

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  • 9. At 11:53am on 30 Jul 2008, John Mason wrote:

    "if it was reported in terms of potential Deaths it would not sound so appealing" - Littlefiercemum


    And how would that work?

    "A large haul of cannabis which could have potentially caused zero deaths due to it's non lethal status was seized today."

    "A haul of cocaine, probably destined for the city of London's night scene, which may have potentially caused one death (although the alcohol would have been more to blame" was seized today!"

    And that's assuming we can even work out likely deaths per kilo for each drug... And assuming it's fair to label all, say, cocaine use as the same thing, when crack on a sink estate and wraps in a high class club are clearly a million miles apart in terms of likely fatalities...

    It just wouldn't work dear.

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  • 10. At 11:59am on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Anyone who believes prohibition of drugs (yet another piece of poisonous cultural pollution imported from America) is worthwhile has not properly considered the costs.

    Whether or not prohibition actually "works" at all is in itself debatable - as Mr Easton's figures show. So it is doubtful whether there are actually any benefits from it at all.

    On the other hand, the costs are immense. Direct policing costs, lives lost in law enforcement and in turf wars, liberties lost to aid enforcement, youths criminalised, crime glamourised by the vast funds injected into it through drugs trafficking, corruption of law enforcement and criminal justice, lives of users lost due to contaminated or overstrength street drugs. And the likelihood is that much of the damage doesn't even show up in the stats as related to drugs - you don't think some of that £5.3 billion goes into buying off police attention, do you? We all know local places that are known to sell drugs but never seem to get any police attention, surely? And how much crime and violence that actually has its roots in drugs and related corruption is actually recorded as such?

    The moral argument against drugs prohibition is simple and unanswerable, but the majority are nevertheless unable to grasp it because they have no real understanding of moral issues.

    But the cost/benefit argument against drugs prohibition is equally unanswerable, and should be within everyone's grasp. We should return to the situation when we were a relatively free country - any and all drugs free to buy subject only to taxation and reasonable licensing restrictions. If we have bars and off-licences selling alcohol - a drug comparable in its danger with any "class A" prohibited substance - then all the other recreational drugs should be treated the same.

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  • 11. At 12:00pm on 30 Jul 2008, Roger_the_Pessimist wrote:

    Legalise them, regulate them, tax them. Do the same with prostitution too.

    Make harder drugs cheap enough that addicts won't have to steal to feed their habit - but control them enough to prevent people (especially young people) buying them in shops in brightly coloured packets. Some sort of card system where a person's record is stored, they can only buy a certain amount a day and will be flagged up the NHS and other services.

    Chop off the right arm of organised crime who are the scourge of this country and direct their revenue into government coffers rather than Swiss bank accounts. Use the huge tax revenues to fund health and social programmes to ameliorate against the negative effects of drug use, and offer incentives so drugs companies manufacture safer products.

    Free up a large proportion of police time and allow them to focus on murderers, rapists etc. Free up the jails too and give violent and sexual offenders far longer sentences. Legalkise prostitution and protect thousands of women who are abused and trafficked.

    The down side? No system, no matter how well controlled, will be perfect and any card system would be abused. Every system ever invented has been abused by somebody.

    This system has to be Europe-wide in scope or else every junkie in Europe would flock here. One of many reasons why it will never happen.

    People will take drugs and the govt will be seen to encourage it. But then people take drugs in great numbers already, many turned on by the illegal appeal. People will always drink. People will always take drugs. There will always be prostitution. Regulation and control is the lesser of two evils.

    Prohibition doesn't work. Never has, never will.



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  • 12. At 12:05pm on 30 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    The problem is that we refer to the issue as 'drugs'. We don't expect the dept of health to have one policy on 'disease'. Treat each drug as a seperate concern:

    Cannabis causes paranoia, mental health issues and cancer. However cigarettes and alcohol aren't exactly sweeties so treat cannabis the same... sell cannabis cigarrettes of know THC conc with filters in off-licences.

    Medical heroin if its prepared cleanly and of know concentration is very, very safe. Keith Richards wrote rebel on maine street, skied and could hammer most people at tennis while maintaing a habit that could have kept half of Glasgow high. It didn't cause him major problems because he could afford decent stuff. Provide clean, medically pure heroin on prescription from pharamacists. As a bonus we can pay the afghans for the poppy and win some 'hearts and minds' in Helmand.

    Cocaine isn't so great in excess, but neither is alcohol. Again... sell to over 18's from licenced premises and use the proceeds to treat the problems.

    Ectasy kills far less than alcohol. Sell from off-licences with the same restrictions you put on vodka.

    The big problem comes from things like Crack, PCP, Angel dust etc which make the user rapidly very unstable. If all police resources were taken from cannabis and used on crack the inner cities would be a damn site safer.

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  • 13. At 12:07pm on 30 Jul 2008, BunnyTheYetiHunter wrote:

    Having been employed in the "war against drugs" it is plain for anyone to see that the only way to deal with this problem is to see it as an economic one. The report plainly shows the mark up of the drugs prices from harvest to street. By missing out all the middlemen the Government could provide a properly controlled, clean environment for people to use their drugs together with medical and counselling facilities. These could be affordable even with charging prices that significantly undercut the dealers. It takes the criminals and the violence out of the equation, provides health benefits for the user and stops the crimewave that is caused by users. It also shows that users aren't cool but are just "sad types" receiving treatment. This would have to be balanced with very severe sentences for possession of drugs outside of the controlled environment - even capital punishment. (No cautions or 2nd chances)
    It needs politicians to grasp the nettle and admit that previous methods just haven't worked.

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  • 14. At 12:09pm on 30 Jul 2008, doctor-gloom wrote:

    Mark,

    The fact that street prices are going down supports the argument that 'supply reduction' has not happened. This 'enforcement' money is wasted money, it's all going down one big black hole. Untill the cowards in westminster get around to accepting the inevitable (legalisation) then this waste of money will continue.

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  • 15. At 12:13pm on 30 Jul 2008, Peter Bolt wrote:

    I attended my first "drugs seminar" as a PC at Highbury Vale Police Stn in 1966 (The year we won the World Cup) and every year since then we were told that "New Laws" would end the `Drigs Problem`
    In 1973 at a Lecture by a FBI agent from the USA Embassy we were assured the `Drugs war was being won"
    A continuing combination of arrogance and ignorance from an unholy alliance of the
    Home Office and vey ambitious Senior Police Officers have ensured this country to be the" Drugs Heaven of Europe^
    In the words of the song "Oh will they never learn ?
    When will they ever learn ?"

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  • 16. At 12:14pm on 30 Jul 2008, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    I saw on a documentary the other day that the reason Cannabis is illegal was because the media tycoon William Randolf Hurst used his newspapers to wage a war against it because hemp farming was a major competitor against his paper, cotton and oil businesses.

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  • 17. At 12:16pm on 30 Jul 2008, PCR8950 wrote:

    There is no deterrent to stop people dealing in drugs. We should adopt much more severe punishments for dealers instead of the normal slap on the wrist. How about a lowest sentence of ten years in prison for dealers and work up from there. What right minded person would complain about introducing the Malaysian and Chinese punishment for major traffickers which ensures that they don't repeat offend because they are dead.

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  • 18. At 12:23pm on 30 Jul 2008, Blueday2 wrote:

    If I was Prime Minister I would leave the E.U. and have capital punishment for all drug dealers. Every suspect person and property would be searched with the army backing the police. Those not caught would probably emigrate. Then lock up all the addicts to do cold turkey. I think China and Thailand have a simliar policy.

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  • 19. At 12:36pm on 30 Jul 2008, normal-thinker wrote:

    Why not have two categories for athletes?

    1) normal without drugs

    2) "enhanced" where athletes can use whatever they like

    Drug testing will carry on with "normal" athletes. If they are caught, then they must compete in the enhanced categories or not at all. For those who wish compete in the enhanced category, they must be fully open about the risks of taking the performance enhancing drugs.

    It would be a bit like having a car race with two categories - normally aspirated and turbocharged.

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  • 20. At 12:38pm on 30 Jul 2008, Frobnitz wrote:

    Tolerate, decriminalise, legalise...

    The Dutch have gone for option 1 for cannabis - cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands, but no action is taken against people using it in the correct places - and the Netherlands has one of the lowest incidents of drug misuse in the EU.

    The Swiss and Spanish have gone for option 3 on cannabis - and very few people know this. They are not swamped with drug tourists, so the argument over unilateral legalisation doesn't seem to hold water. Also, both countries have very low levels of drug misuse.

    I favour either option one or two. If the government want to turn a profit, and in these days of financial crises, you'd think a product that they could slap 1000% tax on would appeal.

    I've limited my comments to cannabis - a drug universally accepted to cause less harm than either alcohol or tobacco - but arguments can be extended to other drugs. Currently we have absolutely no way of controlling misuse of drugs, prohibition has failed, drugs are very, very easily obtained, in spite of spiralling amounts of money being spent on policing it (in spite of the heir to the throne doing his bit).

    Admit defeat, try new tactics, and you never know, the problems of drug gangs may well be an historical footnote.

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  • 21. At 12:39pm on 30 Jul 2008, badgercourage wrote:

    # 18

    Would you include all pubs, supermarkets and corners shops in this? They are all drug dealers, it's just just that the drugs they sell are legal.

    And if we locked up all "addicts" including those addicted to cigarettes and alcohol we'd need 100 times more prisons than we already have.

    Every time I hear a politician going on about drugs I think of them with a whisky in one hand and a cigarette in the other...

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  • 22. At 12:43pm on 30 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #16. I've heard that too. I don't know if its true or not but its worth pointing out that Bank of England banknotes are partially made of Hemp grown in a farm somewhere in Leics.

    #17. The problem is that the MAJOR trafickers never get caught. They live in Burma, Columbia, Switzerland, British Virgin Islands etc. The guys who end up on a rope are minions and rapidly replaced. Malaysia and Thailand still have major drug problems even with hanging.

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  • 23. At 12:44pm on 30 Jul 2008, BunnyTheYetiHunter wrote:

    Roger_the_Pessimist. The cheaper legal purchase of drugs would certainly help lower the amount of women in prostitution as many are in it to fund drug habits...at least those on the streets are

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  • 24. At 12:46pm on 30 Jul 2008, Ernie wrote:

    One of my major, major problems with the 'drugs' policy and 'drugs' discussions such as these is the tendency to just lump everything in together.

    Cannabis, cocaine and heroin are very different things with very different levels of harm and addiction profiles. The only reason to discuss 'drugs' as a whole is to continue the presupposition that the use of these things is a moral failing.

    The moral failing I can see is that the government and many of the people consider that what a person ingests, without harming any other individual, is any of their business in the first place.

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  • 25. At 12:54pm on 30 Jul 2008, littlefiercemum wrote:

    Reply to Masonity.
    I think you are missing the point, darling.
    Also, if you think cannabis (for example) does not lead to deaths, maybe you should do some research.

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  • 26. At 1:00pm on 30 Jul 2008, Lord_Stormshadow wrote:

    Prohibition will never work in any kind of democratic society where individuals have rights and freedoms.

    It would in theory be possible to eradicate drugs if customs and excise were given the power to summarily execute anyone caught bringing drugs into the country, coupled with unannounced random searches of houses and individuals, execution of anyone convicted of dealing in drugs, and similar extreme police-state policies. We'd probably need 40% basic income tax to pay for it all, though.

    On the other hand, if all drugs were legalised, the country as a whole would receive a massive boost in tax revenues, dangerous impure drugs would be removed from the supply chain, prices would drop, drugs would be de-glamorised, and a huge sector of organised crime would be wiped out overnight.

    All the policing resources freed up could be re-deployed to tackle other crime, which should have a knock-on effect of greatly reducing crime in general.

    But modern politicians don't lead with bold initiatives that actually make changes any more, they just react to opinion polls and events as they unfold. So we're likely to be stuck with the current situation for many years to come.

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  • 27. At 1:03pm on 30 Jul 2008, David Jackson wrote:

    The real question is, if drug taking is intrinsically evil, and like most people, I think it is; then surely it is essential for the state to at least attempt to supress it.

    Legalising drugs would be no different to legalising murder, or theft : it would make the crime statistics look very good, but would be morally indefensible.

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  • 28. At 1:07pm on 30 Jul 2008, billbains wrote:

    I can speak freely here - something I never have been able to do. I was a Heroin addict for about 18 years (incl cocaine - mixed to make snow balls) - methadone during that period and after stopping with Heroin. I eventually went to a Detox clinic for 6 days, was given drugs on the first day there - after a medical - used normally to sedate schizophrenics. Withdrawals were brought on after 1 day there - I was unconscious most of the time, woken up to check my heart and give me water. I had to wear a nappy due to incontinance and I had the most weird dreams - hurt myself by trying to get up out of bed living out hallucinations. My wife came to collect me and take me to Heathrow on the Friday but the doctors said I wasnt in a fit state to leave and they kept me there for another day. I reacted so badly to the detox because I had been using methadone for around 20 years and my dose before entering the clinic was 70mg a day (much too much to detox).
    I went home on the Saturday and for the next 6 weeks I couldnt get out of bed. I went back to work having lost around 1 1/2 stone and just put up with the daily depression and looking at the world around me seemed very flat to me. I had depression and enxiety along with other symptoms for about 18 months when I started to feel better slowly.
    The reason I wrote that about my addiction is to reason that drugs like Heroin should be made legal for existing drug users who have a history of addiction. To add - I worked as a proffessional for all the time I was on drugs and no-one ever knew about my problem. I never trusted anyone and I was always very secretive (with good reason). people like to point fingers and bully those that cant adjust to life around them. Drug addicts are harmless individuals who would stop robbing people, breaking into houses and committing crimes if they had drugs every day without having to find money to pay. They have only one thing on their minds - much like young men going to a night club have only one thing on their minds - if someone gets in the way of their libido they may well react violently. Drug addicts are in a similar position - they have only the thought of getting drugs on their mind and will do just about anything to get what they want. How often do you see young men drunk kicking each other with not a girl in sight after a night out - such is life.
    Consider the junky with no legal recourse, having to try to con increasingly skeptical and paranoid doctors for scripts - even when they get a script they have to get past the pharmacist who will not fillit if a comma is out of place. So called drug "czars" know nothing about junkies, politicians certainly know nothing. The people to ask about what they want to get a better life are those affected, the junkies.

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  • 29. At 1:09pm on 30 Jul 2008, ShutUpStevie wrote:

    Like it or not, the vast majority of drug use in this country does not result in other criminal activity, and is undertaken by otherwise law-abiding adults who have made a personal choice to use drugs recreationally, why? because they enjoy doing so! If the fact that it is already a criminal offence, and seen as unacceptable by some others in society, does not deter perfectly intelligent people from chosing to take drugs anyway, is it not time to stop making such a fuss about it? The 'War on Drugs' is just a pathetic piece of political bandwagon jumping. Of course those who commit crime to feed a habit should be punished for harm they do to others, but the way most people pay for their particular 'habits' is going to work, doing normal jobs and otherwise fitting in perfectly well with society. Some parts of society just need to get over it.

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  • 30. At 1:20pm on 30 Jul 2008, oweno wrote:

    One answer only;Goverment distributsion of drugs from special clinics when you take the money out of the system it creates a vacum in which pushers are no longer the driving force divert the money now wasted on usless enforsement into health and thus stop a lot of theiving and dealing in conterfiet goods to pay for the habit

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  • 31. At 1:24pm on 30 Jul 2008, 1981suede wrote:

    @ David Jackson

    That is one of the most offensive comments I've read. How can you reasonably compare taking drugs to murder? If it harms no one but the user then I don't think it's the business of anyone else. Can you please explain to me how smoking cannabis for example is "intrinsically evil" but drinking alcohol is perfectly acceptable to yourself and society at large.

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  • 32. At 1:26pm on 30 Jul 2008, Rich Indeed wrote:

    Legalise all drugs - make it mandatory for any dealer to have a licence which dictates that they must give a certain high percentage (70+%) of their income to the state.

    Any person caught dealing without a licence faces a mandatory 20 year jail term, no parole. Vary the jail terms depending on the class of the drug being dealt (e.g 5 years for class C - 20 years for Class A)

    Use the money saved / raised by this approach to improve customs patrolling of the coast and border points.

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  • 33. At 1:31pm on 30 Jul 2008, usdeeper wrote:

    Having a 'war' on drugs just sets you up to fail from the beginning. There is no defined end point or victory position. If you goal is to get rid of all harmfull drugs, then who defines what is harmful? and if you have 3 months with no drugs but then come kids dies of a drug overdose, do you declare a new war or is it a continuation of the old one?

    Most drugs should be legalized along with prostitution. If someone wants to kill themselves with cocain, then let them. If someone wants to sell their body, then so be it. All we should be doing is creating a society were people have other options and are not forced to take drugs to 'escape' or to sell themselves for money etc.

    Divert police resources into crimes that hurt other people. I don't care if someone wants to take cocain, but I do care when someone is beaten to death on their way home from the Sunday school picnic. Not all drug users are out killing people for drug money.

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  • 34. At 1:35pm on 30 Jul 2008, lien_cam wrote:

    This report really should mark a watershed in how we view UK Drug policy - the onus should now be firmly on the Government and it's advisors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the current policy is working and will continue to do so.

    This is a bigger scandal than the one surrounding MPs expenses. Hundreds of Millions of pounds of OUR MONEY is (effectively) being wasted each and every year, when we could be generating the same amount in tax revenue.

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  • 35. At 1:37pm on 30 Jul 2008, oweno wrote:

    I should add a bit in capitals *** FREE DRUGS** you must take the money out of the system if you dont it wont work when the pushers have gone and all you have to do to get your fix is sign for it at a clinic people will stop useing.Human nature will kick in its no big deal when its free

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  • 36. At 1:45pm on 30 Jul 2008, VinChainSaw wrote:

    If this government can't win a war against a bunch of renegade desertmen in Iraq and Afghan how do they expect to win a war against a few million drugusers in the UK?

    This entire project is dead in the water. And has been for decades. It's just such a pity that politicians still can't see it.

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  • 37. At 1:51pm on 30 Jul 2008, David Jackson wrote:

    Drug taking is not equivalent to murder, or to theft; it is simply like them in that it is wrong in itself, not just because the law of the land makes it illegal.

    I think it is the failure of many is society to recognise this distinction it a large part of the problem in the response to drugs and many other things. There seems to be a idea that the response to an inability to prevent a criminal activity is to legalise it, without any consideration of the fundamental immorality of the activity.

    There are any number of textbooks on the immorality of drugs and comparisons and contrasts with alcohol.

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  • 38. At 1:55pm on 30 Jul 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    We can't legalise drugs - just think of all the people who will suffer:

    1, Drug dealers - just where do you think they are going to earn money once their cash supply has gone? Getting a proper job?

    2, Police forces and drug "enforcement" agencies - what are they going to do with all their expensive new equipment and officers targeting drug crime? You'll be telling us next they could spend it all on stopping car theft or gun crime!

    3, Anyone who uses drug addiction as an excuse for other crime - what are they going to tell the courts once they are allowed to get an affordable fix?

    4, Politicians - who can they blame for society's ills? And even worse what happens if legalisation is proven to be a success after all they've said? Nobody would believe a word they say after this (certain politicians excluded).

    It's just too simple an answer to legalise and control. There must be a more complicated way of dealing with this.

    BTW little fierce mum - cannabis deaths? I think you are mistaking it for peanuts.

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  • 39. At 2:03pm on 30 Jul 2008, 1981suede wrote:

    @ David Jackson

    Could you please succinctly explain to all of us morally corrupt individuals reading this comments section exactly why drug use is immoral? I accept that the use of drugs when in a position of responsibility for others, such as that of a parent with young children is unacceptable. But how can drug use, which has no negative impact on others apart from that which prohibition provides, be in any way immoral?

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  • 40. At 2:11pm on 30 Jul 2008, littlefiercemum wrote:

    I'm just wondering, how many people on this blog are speaking with a clear head (and conscience!)..? Hands up those who have NEVER taken recreational drugs... hmmm, thought so. once you've taken something (cannabis for example,) you believe it can't harm you, or that others can be harmed by you and your 'harmless little habit'...!!

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  • 41. At 2:23pm on 30 Jul 2008, Rich Indeed wrote:

    To David Jackson:

    Do you think alcohol and tobacco are also immoral - or is it only un-taxed drugs you have a problem with?

    Mankind has been using drugs for various purposes for thousands of years so it's a bit rich to cast yourself as it's moral arbiter based on what you've read in a text book that seems to be as uninformed as you are.

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  • 42. At 2:24pm on 30 Jul 2008, lien_cam wrote:

    1981 Suede, I wouldn't waste your time responding to Mr Jackson.

    He claims to share the majority view on this subject: "drug taking is intirnsically evil".

    He is comment #27.

    A quick skim of the preeceding posts suggests 23 people are anti-prohibition, 1 person (who has posted twice by this point) is pro-prohibition, and 1 hasn't voiced an opinion either way.

    Some majority, that.

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  • 43. At 2:27pm on 30 Jul 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    I've taken cannabis many times and it's not done me any harm other than opening my eyes to the lies people peddle about it.
    The question should be hands up those who have NEVER taken recreational drugs yet see fit to tell us all about the effects, oblivious to any understanding of why people take them in the first place.

    My harmless little habit is exactly that. It affects nobody else, doesn't take over my life and as I heard someone say once, should be viewed the same as a glass of wine at the end of a hard day's work. Speaking of which I shall now get back to my productive days work, I was only surfing on here while I ate my lunch.

    Yep, I'm a productive worker as are many "criminals".

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  • 44. At 2:32pm on 30 Jul 2008, ShutUpStevie wrote:

    Littlefiercemum, I am not a parent, so I would not have the cheek to lecture you on how to raise children (I assume you are a parent from your username?). However, you seem happy to think you are a source of unquestionable knowledge on drugs, having never experienced them, and that all drug users opinions are immediately null and void as a result of that use.

    You are of course entitled to your opinions, but they tend to carry more weight if you have some experience of the subject in hand.

    My head is perfectly clear thank you, and my concscience has never been anything other than clear on this subject. You do not have the right to turn a matter of personal choice into a moral issue simply because you choose one side of the argument over another.

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  • 45. At 2:33pm on 30 Jul 2008, Clearyoga wrote:

    It's obvious that prohibition don't work so why does it persist?

    Some claim that it's a vote winner but the media can easily change that if the government persuades them that it's the way forward.

    So here's my theory:

    The high level criminal overlords are highly motivated, sophisticated individuals who will make money whichever way they can according to simple risk vs reward calculations. The drug market is a clear winner here.

    Currently, the losers in the whole drugs market are the poor and their neighbours. It doesn't really pose a threat to the rich, and their friends, the politicians.

    If drugs were legalised, the overlords would have to look elsewhere for their income. Where would they find it?

    Robbing the rich. Maybe.

    So there is my suggestion as to why the ludicrous position of prohibition persists.

    There is another possibility I have thought of although I'd like to know if it's true or not.

    Drugs stimulate the economy to the tune of x%. The economy based around medical treatment, fighting the crime, insurance for replacing stolen goods and the market for replacing stolen goods, the list goes on.

    If legalisation came, would this part of the economy not diminish, and could this cause recession?

    I think there's more to all this than meets the eye..

    P.S. I'm a yoga teacher and I work in harm reduction for addicts, in case you were wondering.

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  • 46. At 2:51pm on 30 Jul 2008, stevesffox wrote:

    The war has been lost for years. A new direction is required. In my opinion:

    Legalise all drugs
    Sell them over the counter inside police stations (control)
    You need to register/produce ID to purchase
    Standard purity/cost
    Enforce restrictions on consumption (ie only on private premise/licenced premise, drug-driving etc)

    This will:

    Generate huge tax revenues
    Legitimise agriculture of crops in places like Afghanistan/Columbia
    Take the trade out of the hands of criminals

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  • 47. At 3:08pm on 30 Jul 2008, fundalker wrote:

    The drug problem will never disappear, it cant because it is a market that a vast amount of people want to be there.

    In australia drugs are reasonable popular among students and travellers but non more so then in britain. They however have an area in australia known as nimbin where there is not real restrictions, the law is ignored. While the trade gets away with it the police at least know where the problem is and they can isolate it.

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  • 48. At 3:17pm on 30 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    David Jackson wrote:

    "The real question is, if drug taking is intrinsically evil, and like most people, I think it is; then surely it is essential for the state to at least attempt to supress it."

    How is it intrinsically evil to harm yourself? Injecting a kid would be evil, but yourself?

    I'm going home in a couple of hours and I'm going to mildly abuse my liver with a couple of ice cold beers. Am I intrinsically evil? I'm doing myself about as much harm as if I lit up a joint.

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  • 49. At 3:24pm on 30 Jul 2008, stwl wrote:

    In response to Shutupstevie (#29), it's true that the majority of drug use does not lead to other crime. In fact, I would argue that this widespread, largely middle-class use is what undermines government attempts to reduce drug availability. If you use drugs, or your friends or family do, you'd be crazy to support a policy of zero tolerance, coupled with draconian punishments, for instance.

    If all drugs were no more than a harmless indulgence to all their users, I would agree with legalisation. They're not; and I suspect most advocates of legalisation do so to cover their own backs first and foremost.

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  • 50. At 3:47pm on 30 Jul 2008, usdeeper wrote:

    "I'm just wondering, how many people on this blog are speaking with a clear head (and conscience!)..? Hands up those who have NEVER taken recreational drugs"


    I certainly can. Never touched them, or ever smoked a cigarette. From a young age, I never saw the point of sticking something in your mouth, lighting it and then inhaling smoke into your lungs. Never touch any drugs outside of headache pills. Believe it or not, there are many people who are not weak minded enough to believe that they have to follow the crowd or take drugs to enhance their lives.

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  • 51. At 3:52pm on 30 Jul 2008, stevesffox wrote:

    stwl2006 "If all drugs were no more than a harmless indulgence to all their users, I would agree with legalisation. They're not; and I suspect most advocates of legalisation do so to cover their own backs first and foremost."

    Consider this effect of prohibition then:

    Marijuana grows naturally in many places in the world and could be harvested and used to meet demand here in a controlled manner. Because it is illegal however it is easier for the criminals to grow hybrid strains such as "skunk" under controlled conditions in the uk, rather than smuggle naturally grown stuff in.

    As a result of this the only product available on the streets is considerably, if not several times, stronger than the natural plant!

    By restricting the legal trade, a false situation is created whereby youngsters are starting out on a drug that is unrecognisable from 20 years ago - and in my opinion more likely to cause harm.

    Personally (if I still partook - I gave up about 3 years ago) I would now pay a premium price for a less strong product - but you can barely find natural "grass" anywhere!!

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  • 52. At 3:55pm on 30 Jul 2008, lien_cam wrote:

    Excerpt from comment #49

    "In response to Shutupstevie (#29), it's true that the majority of drug use does not lead to other crime. In fact, I would argue that this widespread, largely middle-class use is what undermines government attempts to reduce drug availability. If you use drugs, or your friends or family do, you'd be crazy to support a policy of zero tolerance, coupled with draconian punishments, for instance."

    You were so nearly right. Widespread was the perfect start, the rest is bobbins.

    Drug use is widespread because the Police cannot prevent it from happening with the current legislation. It's really that simple.

    However, look at how Amnesty International view countries which have had or do have Zero Tolerance of drugs - Thailand for example.

    Now, unless you think Amnesty International is a front for a crack den, the two sides to your argument simply don't meet in the middle.

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  • 53. At 4:16pm on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Littlefiercemum, you come across as a little naive with your implication that only someone who has "NEVER" taken recreational drugs can "speak with a clear..conscience". Such a person would likely have much less understanding of the topic he or she is talking about, than would a person who has some personal experience.

    You need to take on board a simple reality that seems also to have eluded "David Jackson": while each drug has its own particular effects, nicotine and alcohol are recreational drugs just like heroin, cocaine and cannabis. Each is arguably harmful to varying degrees and in various ways, and each and every one can be taken in moderation with little or no harm to the user, but with a risk of severe harm if allowed to become habitual.

    It's up to individuals to decide whether to accept that harm and risk, not up to you to decide for them (unless they are your own children). Personally, I use alcohol in moderate amounts and only in social settings. While I've tried other drugs on occasions (some time ago now), I've never been tempted to become a regular user of any, although there is certainly no problem with availability. I hope my children will follow a similar approach when they are grown up.

    But thanks to the efforts of the prohibitionists my children face a society where drug-taking is glamourised as "rebellious" and gangsterised drug dealers are the only obviously rich and successful people in some areas. Thanks, Littlefiercemum!

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  • 54. At 4:17pm on 30 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #50: "From a young age, I never saw the point of sticking something in your mouth, lighting it and then inhaling smoke into your lungs."

    Because the smoke contains chemicals that create a very nice sensation in the brain. Its pleasant.

    I've never smoked because with a cancer surgeon as a father I'd have been beaten to death if I started but its not too hard to accept that people do it because its a nice feeling.

    I'm rather partial to calvados and irish whiskey (although not together!)- the reason I put a cocktail of carcinogens and liver wrecking solvents in my mouth is that the end result is rather pleasant and relaxing. Presumably the same reason any user takes drugs.

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  • 55. At 4:20pm on 30 Jul 2008, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    Why are cigarettes and booze not controlled by organized crime? (Cigarettes and booze being just as, or even more dangerous to the individual and costly to the NHS.)

    If it is the associated criminality that is so bad then the logical answer is the make drugs (all drugs) available over a chemist counter in small doses for a few pence. And perhaps in exchange for reading a pamphlet on how bad doing drugs is and the address of a clinic.

    If there is no profit in street corner supply then I cannot think that organized crime will stay in the drugs business for more than a millisecond! But what will the crime syndicates turn to then? (Is it better to have organized crime in the drugs business rather than some other form of criminality?)

    The other advantage of full legalisation could be that the farmers of Afghanistan will have legitimate buyers depriving the Taliban of cash.... All viable solutions are possibly unpalatable!

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  • 56. At 4:24pm on 30 Jul 2008, mdmaok wrote:

    War on Drugs? Madness. I like drugs - I've used illegal substances most days for the best part of 40 years. During that time I have created a lot of jobs through the company I started and run, paid MOUNTAINS of tax of one sort or another, voted in elections, given money to charity and in every way behaved like a good citizen. Except of course I am a practicing criminal.

    When I was a teenager, you bought your hash from another hippie who had smuggled a few kilos in from Morrocco. Now as a direct result of government policy the industry is controlled by huge criminal corporations. That's not my fault, it is what the government wants. None of them pay any tax.

    There is of course a HUGE legal industry "dependant" on drugs. What do all the policemen, lawyers, court officials etc etc do if 40-50% of crime in Britain no longer a crime? There are more people "dependant" on this industry than are "dependant" on the effects of taking drugs.

    Of course there are some casualties. Lack of quality control, lack of education, fear of retribution creates problems. But these are created by government policy. If nobody died, how would they be able to pretend they were dangerous?

    Recently the government regraded cannabis. Sending out the important message to all children that government drug policy is not based on medical or scientific advice, but on the advice of the editor of the Daily Mail. Brilliant. Now children will be able to work out for themselves the lies they are being told.

    Of course the government makes more money from tobacco (which kills 25% of its addicts) than all other drug-gang protection rackets put together. That makes them a disinterested source of information then. Sigh. You couldn't make it up.

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  • 57. At 4:32pm on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    stevesfox: the increase of potency under prohibition is not just an artifact of particular strains of marijuana - it's a direct consequence of prohibition of any substance. If you are going to break the law, it's better to deal in something of higher potency (and therefore higher value per unit bulk). It's easier to conceal and to transport, and the rewards are higher. This happened also under alcohol prohibition in the US.

    As for stwl2006's comment, I don't know any better than he does whether or not "most advocates of legalisation do so to cover their own backs first and foremost". What I do know is that I advocate re-legalisation, and neither I nor any member of my family uses any drugs other than alcohol.

    I could throw a similar argument back at stwl2006 by declaring: "most advocates of prohibition are probably drug dealers or government officials on the take, or family members thereof, and do so to protect their own incomes", but I do not need to resort to that kind of speculation. The arguments against prohibition are compelling, and the arguments in favour weak.

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  • 58. At 4:49pm on 30 Jul 2008, NEWDEALADVISER wrote:

    I am a New Deal Adviser and work for the Department for work and pensions. I have to say the government have thier heads in the sand re the amount of young people who take drugs. I would feel confident in saying 90% have tried and 50% are regular users of canabis. Most of these regular usesr's demonstrate paranoia,agression or apathy. These behaviours quite often lead them to claim Incapacity Benefit where they be issued with a sick note which will detail 'depression' as the reason they cannont seek employment. The amount of people claiming Incapacity Benefit with mental health issues caused by drug use will be massive. The economic effect is also massive not just the money used now for these benefits but as this client group ages there will surley be signs of increased dementia/metal health figures in older people.

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  • 59. At 4:51pm on 30 Jul 2008, Rich Indeed wrote:

    Totally agree with #56 - the demonisation of cannabis, especially by the government and the media, is one of the main reasons why cannabis is considered a 'gateway drug' - kids try it, realise it isn't the mother of all evils it's been made out to be and begin to question what other drugs they may have been lied to about.

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  • 60. At 4:56pm on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    John_from_Hendon: your suggestion that re-legalisation could cause a problem in that drugs criminals might turn to other crime was also put forward by Theodore Dalrymple in his otherwise excellent book Romancing Opiates.

    Presumably, a tiny minority of those involved with the illegal drugs business are in it because they are naturally violent criminals, and they might turn to robbery to make money. Most, though, are presumably attracted by the money itself, and if there isn't easy money to be made from criminality they will simply seek it elsewhere (ie from non-criminal sources). Robbery is a dangerous and nasty business, and also is wrong per se, unlike supplying people with recreational drugs, so it seems likely most of those involved in the latter will not be prepared to get involved in the former.

    Organised crime, on the other hand, is already involved in every other possible kind of crime - commercial sex, trafficking of people, fraud, etc. Taking away the drugs money spout from organised crime might initially result in some transfer of assets to other areas, but those other areas will necessarily be less profitable, or they'd be doing them instead of drugs now - they are in it solely for the profit, not out of some evil crusade to do bad for its own sake. Therefore the long term result will be to dramatically reduce the assets and profitability of organised crime.

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  • 61. At 5:08pm on 30 Jul 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    I have only one question in this whole debate:

    Where is the idiot who came up with the idea that you could reduce demand by reducing supply?

    All that does is push up the value of the remaining supply and force people to order their drugs the day before instead of half an hour before they want them.


    NEWDEALADVISER wrote:
    I am a New Deal Adviser and work for the Department for work and pensions... Most of these regular usesr's demonstrate paranoia,agression or apathy.

    That's called selection bias - if you'd ever sat on the other side of that desk you'd know where that paranoia, aggression and apathy come from.

    I have no problems with drug use, but felt exactly the same when I was unemployed due to the fact that you guys are actively seeking reasons to stop benefits, refuse to acknowledge your mistakes and tried to tell me that data entry was a suitable position for a physics graduate as it involved "working with computers".

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  • 62. At 5:10pm on 30 Jul 2008, mdmaok wrote:

    Fascinatated by #58. I meet many young people at my local dealer. Not having children of my own it is delightful to hear of their activities, aspirations and silly exploits. I do not recognise the characteristics he/she describes. Is it possible that he/she only meets the losers in the course of his/her employment, who coincidently self medicate? Let me see now, a job stacking supermarket shelves, or another hit of smack.....

    If I was a bored teenager with no prospects, it would be very easy to give up and drop out. Drugs may well be a symptom, they are not the problem.

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  • 63. At 5:14pm on 30 Jul 2008, VinChainSaw wrote:

    NEWDEALADVISER #58

    If that was the case then the Netherlands would be the basket case of teh Western world.

    But, as we know, that is not the case with the NEtherlands having a fraction of the number of British on benefits such as Incapacity Benefit.

    That leave sus with three alternatives:

    - the British are inherently lazy... not probable.
    - the British are inherently sickly... again not probable.
    - the nuLabour benefits policy is as pathetically inadequate as their policy on recreational drug use...

    Makes you think.

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  • 64. At 5:16pm on 30 Jul 2008, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    #58
    If cannabis causes so much mental illness why don't anti-drug campainers provide details of countries like Holland (where it is legal / decriminalised) with their huge amounts of mental illness.
    Or could it be that they have lower levels than the UK where drugs are banned?

    People say hash causes paranoia, of course it does, when you buy it you're scared it might be a trap, when you carry it you're scared of being searched, when you smoke it your scared of neighbours smelling it and calling the police, but is it paranoia when you know they're after you?

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  • 65. At 5:24pm on 30 Jul 2008, stevesffox wrote:

    RandalCousins wrote:

    stevesfox: the increase of potency under prohibition is not just an artifact of particular strains of marijuana - it's a direct consequence of prohibition of any substance. If you are going to break the law, it's better to deal in something of higher potency (and therefore higher value per unit bulk). It's easier to conceal and to transport, and the rewards are higher. This happened also under alcohol prohibition in the US.

    Hi Randal,

    I entirely agree: the point remains that whatever the specific drivers are, the fact that prohibition is in place has led to a (potentially harmful) increase in potency of at least one drug!!

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  • 66. At 5:33pm on 30 Jul 2008, mdmaok wrote:

    #61 - It is even crazier than you suggest. In every other industry - say motor cars - each company spends heavily on sales and marketing in order to gain market share. The smart ones who spend that money wisely are rewarded.

    In the drugs industry, the taxpayer does this market share work using our money. The least-smart get bust, leaving the clever criminals the market to themselves. This simple process means that the drug industry gets cleverer all the time, using our money.

    In addition as an elastic market, the drugs that get through attain a higher price.

    If customs and excise siezed 90% of all the heroin that came into the country, the remaining 10% is worth 10 times as much - therefore there is NO net loss of income.

    It is a SENSATIONAL business model.

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  • 67. At 5:41pm on 30 Jul 2008, supermk wrote:

    The report appears to indicate its useless trying to contol drugs and that maybe we will just have to accept them.

    However, its obvious drugs generate crime and destroy lives.

    Having spent several years in the far east I can tell you it is possible to stop drugs - take Singapore for example - there are no drugs or drug problem because the consequences of possessing and using them are so bad.

    We should follow this example not the Netherlands one where from personal experience Heroin is available in many train stations (eg Den Haag HS).

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  • 68. At 5:58pm on 30 Jul 2008, littlefiercemum wrote:

    I have made it clear that I am not in favour of 'recreational' drugs, but I have not stated my position on legalization.
    I find it interesting that my comments have provoked such emotive and largely defensive responses.

    Good for you usdeeper! glad to know I'm not alone.

    There is no need for me to have had ''first hand experience'' of drugs to be able to see the detrimental effects they have on those around me (including Cigarettes and Alcohol!).

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  • 69. At 5:58pm on 30 Jul 2008, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    re #60 RandalCousins

    Most of my contribution was about how sensible it world be to de-criminalise all drugs as over the counter chemist products as this would deny a major source of income to organised crime and give Afghan farmers a legitimate market for their produce.

    I am however not advocating taking drugs and I am not advocating using tobacco and booze. It is just that the balance of risk for society is to decriminalise - or to criminalise tabacco and booze.

    There are risks however and to ignore these is short-sighted and unwise

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  • 70. At 6:15pm on 30 Jul 2008, lien_cam wrote:

    Supermk (comment 67): "Having spent several years in the far east I can tell you it is possible to stop drugs - take Singapore for example - there are no drugs or drug problem because the consequences of possessing and using them are so bad.

    We should follow this example not the Netherlands one where from personal experience Heroin is available in many train stations (eg Den Haag HS)."

    It is true that Singapore has achieved an astonishingly high level of success in combating drugs but this can largely be explained by the fact that there are fewer routes for drugs to be imported into Singapore. You also need to consider that Singapore is a tiny prinicipality, and not a sprawling island like our own. Singaporean Police still have to cary out drug busts though, so the deterrent isn't entirely credit worthy.

    Also, you'd probably be surprised to find how easy it is to get hold of Heroin here.

    Sheffield's branch of Waitrose(!) had to install UV lights in the toilets when it first opened, to prevent miss-use of the facilities....Dave Cameron doesn't even shop in Waitrose!

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  • 71. At 6:28pm on 30 Jul 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    Little fierce mum:
    "I have made it clear that I am not in favour of 'recreational' drugs, but I have not stated my position on legalization."
    - So why don't you then?

    "I find it interesting that my comments have provoked such emotive and largely defensive responses."
    - Are you surprised? You support the side of making the rest of us criminals and you expect us to quietly applaud your ignorance? BTW logical is not "emotive", in fact it's pretty much the opposite.

    "Good for you usdeeper! glad to know I'm not alone."
    - in being afraid to try new experiences.

    "There is no need for me to have had ''first hand experience'' of drugs to be able to see the detrimental effects they have on those around me (including Cigarettes and Alcohol!)."
    - True, but there is in order to understand why people take them in the first place.

    Big respect to mdmaok for comment 56 - a perfect summary of the madness of the whole situation with the taxpayer being conned out of billions, and still no end in sight. We really need a leader with the political courage to do the right thing.

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  • 72. At 6:47pm on 30 Jul 2008, occultations wrote:

    I'm not sure about stronger drugs, but cannabis should certainly be declassified. This would remove the problem of the stronger varieties of cannabis now available, because the strength would be regulated and controlled. The number of people trying harder drugs would be reduced, because cannabis users would no longer have any contact with the drug dealers that tempt them on to harder drugs. There would be less drug related crime, because cannabis would be cheaper. The government could tax it. Everybody benefits (except the criminals).

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  • 73. At 7:25pm on 30 Jul 2008, JulianCritchley wrote:

    Several years ago, I was Director of the UK Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit in Cabinet Office (which sounds a lot grander than it was). Our job was to co-ordinate Government policy across the Departments, supporting the then Drugs "Tsar", Keith Hellawell. I joined the Unit more or less agnostic on drugs policy, being personally opposed to drug use, but open-minded about the best way to deal with the problem. I was certainly not inclined to decriminalise.

    However, during my time in the Unit, as I saw more and more evidence of “what works”, to quote New Labour’s mantra of the time, it became apparent to me that the available evidence pointed very clearly to the fact that enforcement and supply-side interventions were largely pointless. They have no significant, lasting impact on the availability, affordability or use of drugs. In the Spending Review we undertook, we did successfully manage to re-allocate resources towards treatment programmes, but even then I had misgivings about the effectiveness of those programmes. Many hear the word "treatment" and imagine medical intervention or "cures", yet many of these programmes were often supported largely by anecdotal evidence of success, and the more successful interventions were simply too expensive to use widely, given other pressures on health budgets.

    It seems apparent to me that wishing drug use away is folly. The only sensible cause of action is to minimise the damage caused to society by individuals’ drugs choices. What harms society is the illegality of drugs and all the costs associated with that. There is no doubt at all that the benefits to society of the fall in crime as a result of legalisation would be dramatic. The argument always put forward against this is that there would be a commensurate increase in drug use as a result of legalisation. This, it seems to me, is a bogus point : tobacco is a legal drug, whose use is declining, and precisely because it is legal, its users are far more amenable to Government control, education programmes and taxation than they would be, were it illegal. Studies suggest that the market is already almost saturated, and anyone who wishes to purchase the drug of their choice, anywhere in the UK, can already do so. The idea that many people are holding back solely because of a law which they know is already unenforceable is simply ridiculous.

    Ultimately, people will make choices which harm themselves, whether that involve their diet, smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, sexual activity or pursuit of extreme sports, for that matter. The Government in all these instances rightly takes the line that if these activities are to be pursued, society will ensure that those who pursue them : have access to accurate information about the risks; can access assistance to change their harmful habits should they so wish; are protected by legal standards regime; are taxed accordingly; and – crucially - do not harm other people. Only in the field of drugs does the Government take a different line, and as a direct result, society suffers truly enormous consequences in terms of crime, both petty and organised, and harm to individuals who are criminalised and unprotected in the pursuit of their drug.

    I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors held the same view : the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the Government would be “tough on drugs”, even though they all knew that the Government’s policy was actually causing harm. I recall a conversation I had with a No 10 policy advisor about a series of Whitehall-wide announcements in which we were to emphasise the shift of resources to treatment and highlighting successes in prevention and education. She asked me whether we couldn’t arrange for “a drugs bust in Brighton” at the same time, or “a boat speeding down the Thames to catch smugglers”. For that advisor, what worked mattered considerably less than what would play well in the Daily Mail. The tragedy of our drugs policy is that it is dictated by tabloid irrationality, and not by reference to evidence.




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  • 74. At 7:30pm on 30 Jul 2008, usdeeper wrote:

    "Good for you usdeeper! glad to know I'm not alone."
    - in being afraid to try new experiences.


    Oh please.. that is such a pathetic statement to make. It has nothing to do with fear. Really stupid comment.

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  • 75. At 8:44pm on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    JulianCritchley: If our drugs policy is indeed "dictated by tabloid irrationality", then just whose fault is it that such a state of affairs has prevailed for so long?

    The buck, surely, can only rest with those we elect to represent us. What excuse can they have for ignorance and/or cowardice on such a hugely important matter? When will they admit to personal responsibility for the ruined lives and the mountains of wasted money that has been directly caused by nearly a century of misguided legislation?

    An ordinary citizen can reasonably claim ignorance, or powerlessness. An elected legislator, however, has a duty to enquire properly, and to publicly declare opposition to such destructive policies. That's (theoretically) the whole point of having a representative form of democracy rather than the direct kind.

    As for the rest of the senior professionals you describe as knowing the truth but nonetheless toeing the government line - presumably out of fear of damage to their careers - what other response than contempt is appropriate for such people, when you consider the harm they have condoned for personal gain?

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  • 76. At 9:21pm on 30 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Littlefiercemum: granted, I made an assumption in tarring you with the prohibitionist brush. I don't think it was particularly unreasonable to do so given your comments, but obviously I stand to be corrected if you are not of that evil ilk.

    As for you being able to "see the detrtimental effects of drugs on the people around you", well I personally prefer not to use drugs so I don't disagree entirely with your pov. However, I suspect you underestimate the degree to which people around you are using drugs without your being aware of it. For example, here's a survey reported by the BBC which found "one in three people have taken drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis and amyl nitrate at work":

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/709147.stm

    And you should consider the career of Dr Clive Froggatt, for instance, who was a highly successful doctor and government adviser while sustaining a heavy heroin habit, until he was caught faking prescriptions to obtain his supply. Were it not for prohibition, he might have sustained his drug habit much as many successful men have sustained heavy alcohol habits in the past, and continued being a respected contributor to society at the highest levels.

    In his 1937 study "Drug Addiction", physician E.W.Adams estimated that 10% of British and German addicts were doctors.

    The next time you have need to employ a young professional in any field, littlefiercemum, you might like to consider that there's a fairly good chance his or her idea of a good night out includes snorting a line or popping a pill or two. And you almost certainly won't have a clue, because such people don't talk about their acftivities, given that prohibition means that to do so would mean loss of job, career and quite possibly liberty.

    I'm not saying using recreational drugs is not generally bad for you. Only that the picture is far more nuanced and varied than the simplistic "drugs = death" position you seemed to be advocating in your first post here.

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  • 77. At 9:38pm on 30 Jul 2008, JulianCritchley wrote:

    Re : post 75, RandalCousins

    I agree with you, as it happens. It's not as simple as some legalisers would have it. It would be a step into the relative unknown, and we should never be glib about that. It might involve having to legally recognise some very nasty people who are currently involved in the trade, but I suspect that the main difference would be that they would be pursued by the taxman rather than the police. There are international obligations, there would be people who would self-harm through drugs and would blame the change of policy. It would take a mature society to accept that some individuals may hurt, or even kill themselves, as a result of a policy change, even if the evidence suggested that fewer people died or were harmed as a result. I'm not sure our media society is ready to deal with that degree of reason. It would take a brave Government to face down the tabloid fury in the face of anecdotes about nice middle class children who bought drugs legally and came to grief, and this is not a brave Government (see the reclassification of cannabis against all evidence and the advice of its own panel of experts).

    However, the Government accepts that its job is to confront and challenge ignorance in other fields such as homophobia and racism, and the equality agenda was also once very unpopular with the tabloids (maybe still is in some parts). So I was thoroughly disillusioned to see so many people who had sought power, refusing to exercise the responsibility which went with that power. What is the point in seeking office in order to improve the lot of society, if you refuse to act on something which would dramatically improve the lot of society, especially those with the least ?

    I left the Civil Service and retrained as a teacher, in no small part due to my experiences of having to implement policies which I knew, and my political masters knew, were unsupported, or even contradicted, by evidence. I find that when presented with the facts, the students I teach are quite capable of considering issues such as this, and reaching rational conclusions even if they started with a blind Daily Mailesque approach. I find it a shame that no mainstream political party accords the electorate the same respect.


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  • 78. At 11:05pm on 30 Jul 2008, Anne Sullivan wrote:

    So if there is decriminilization of some drugs, as so many here seem to support, does this mean that drugs would no longer be the concern of the 'Serious Organised Crime Agency'?

    Perhaps they would now need an agency for 'not-so-serious-but-a-bad-thing-if-abused Organised Crime Agency'.

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  • 79. At 00:04am on 31 Jul 2008, bobsearcy wrote:

    not only does most of the world use drugs i believe that we will find that many of the animal kingdom are stoned as well. i will be glad to see an end to prohibition in my lifetime cause im a hard working, honest american not a criminal. guess what afghanistan? weve synthesized morphine, yours is illegal. well make billions, your family will starve. i do not like americas hypocrytical war on drugs..

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  • 80. At 09:08am on 31 Jul 2008, Arthur Brede wrote:

    More Big Respect to mdmaok for comment 56. Great name, too..... I agree.

    The idea that you can 'wage war' on your own population on the basis of bigotry and twisted statistics is really peculiar. But then again, we're doing it to foreigners in Iran and Afghanistan, so it must be OK. And therein lies a small insight. The political/administrative classes have now separated their own little gravy-train so far from the ordinary people for whom they are responsible that the electorate is another nation, an enemy, alien. The government spies on it from a safe distance via police statistics, opinion polls and tabloids, all of them seriously skewed for various reasons. But it does not debate with them; it debates with itself, a sure formula for blindness. Nearly every domestic 'policy initiative' is designed to appease just enough of the hostility emanating from this foreign entity to get re-elected. What's this got to do with the drugs 'debate'? Simple - by having a 'war' perceived as class-based (because, with the exception of the invisible mountain of coke that disappears up business and civil service noses, drug-users are definitely the new lower class, aren't they?), the government keeps onside the ever-shrinking proportion of people who vote, while those who think, care, and respect the science and logic of the matter give up in disgust, disenfranchised by helplessness. Neat, eh?

    Nearly all of the debating points made on this thread seem good, although I think that one contributor's got the pre-penultimate letter of her name the wrong way up. But no-one's listening, no-one who matters is debating. Eat your legal SSRI's, manic grin and bear it, folks. And it's not just the illegal drugs - this is true of nearly every important issue in the land, from racism to ecology and back via drunk driving. It's gonna end in tears......

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  • 81. At 09:25am on 31 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    "Why are cigarettes and booze not controlled by organized crime? (Cigarettes and booze being just as, or even more dangerous to the individual and costly to the NHS.)"

    To an extent they are: smuggling duty free tobacco from the continent to resell here is a nice little earner for gangsters.

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  • 82. At 09:45am on 31 Jul 2008, billbains wrote:

    Julian Critchley - its good to read a view from someone who had/has access to the political "thinkers"(sic) in UK who has a reasoned and coherent point to make about legalising drugs. As an ex long term heroin/methadone addict I know from people I came across all those years that the only way a junkie can get off drugs is if he/she really has made a positive decision to do so. All the government, media etc mantras about helping drug addicts (when in reality it is practically impossible to get a place on a treatment programme) is absurd - junkies dont care about anything outside of their immediate sphere of influence - those that can provide drugs and perhaps a girlfriend/boyfriend, thats about it. Drugs and sex - veru occasionally !
    I remember some people in a bar in The Hague who smoked themselves stupid everyday making joints - they both had good jobs before going to Holland - after about 2 years of smoking they took jobs together delivering soft drinks around The Hague - I bet if I went back there today they would be sitting at their usual table smoking and doing absolutely nothing with their lives. On the other hand people like me who never smoked but injected heroin/cocaine and took methadone instead - managed to get out of it but whilst using still held down well paid jobs. That is impossible to do smoking cannabis - doesnt matter what anyone sais that is a stone cold fact - cannabis, skunk, leb etc etc etc... will take your life away and turn you into a zombie - worse still cause you to wear Palistinian scarves, wear shorts around London and read the guardian - oh almost forgot the flip flops and morning enemas...

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  • 83. At 1:40pm on 31 Jul 2008, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    Gosh, really? The war on drugs isn't actually working? Who'd have thought it?

    And in other news, we reveal that the Pope is a Catholic and that bears sh*t in the woods.

    The really question isn't whether current policies are going to work -- everyone knows that they never had and they never well -- it's why politicians carry on with them when they're doomed to failure.

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  • 84. At 2:09pm on 31 Jul 2008, Lemarr wrote:

    All the talk about "War on Drugs" is just rhetoric. If you look at the action that gets taken on drugs, it seems to me that nobody in government or police is really serious about wiping them out.

    Firstly, all they ever do is nick the small dealers on the street - they never get the get the big guys at the top of the chain. In effect, just a bit of idle tinkering here and there for effect.

    Also, the demand for drugs is big and will only get bigger. Reducing that demand for drugs in present-day society would be well nigh impossible.

    And on top of all that, another question is whether the government really wants drugs out of the market-place. I think that governments want to keep drugs in circulation as they're another way, along with things like news, media and advertising, of keeping people stupid and docile.

    My feeling is that the people at the top ordering these arrests of street dealers are actually the "Mr Bigs". It's done for cosmetic effect to make it look like there's a "War on Drugs" going on. In actual fact, the people controlling the drugs trade are, at the very least, in bed with the highest authorities in government and business, if not the actual authorities themselves (and most probably off their faces on drugs too).

    I know this might sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory, and I don't have any evidence to back it up, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is actually what's going on.

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  • 85. At 2:20pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This may sound very odd but its a truth of today, Im a community leader a cannabis user, i work with the police and goverment in trying to sort out this mess I used to grow a small bit myself untill some smart arse decided it would be better for the goverment and GW pahrm to reclass it as a B. Well as a direct result all the kids I talk to and know through daily life report to me that the dealers they use have all started to drop herb in favour of cocaine and other class A drugs due to the polution of the cannabis in this country.
    We have never ever stood a chance against class A drugs, for all the money we spend fixing it or pretending to the public that its being fixed. which is prob the worst of all the sufferance drugs cause. How many teenage girls will be forced into the sex industry today this week this month because the wrong people control this powerfulll industry. I see it daily were I live as fast as the police are told and do somthing about it, a reinvention goes on and the drug industry carries on as normal. This year I have watched the local heroin and crack users turn 3 teenage girls into sex workers, why steal from people when you can have a slave to do your work for you.

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  • 86. At 2:21pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    your evidence starts with cannabis and GW Pharm :)

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  • 87. At 2:29pm on 31 Jul 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    25. At 12:54pm on 30 Jul 2008, littlefiercemum wrote:
    "Reply to Masonity.
    I think you are missing the point, darling.
    Also, if you think cannabis (for example) does not lead to deaths, maybe you should do some research."


    I've just noticed this and had to respond. If you want research you might want to try erowid.org as it may help clear up a lot of your misconceptions.

    As for cannabis deaths, it is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to accidentaly overdose with cannabis. The body simply cannot take up THC, CDB and other cannabinoids fast enough to get anywhere near a dangerous dose.

    The only way to do it would be to get a chemist to extract and concentrate the THC and then inject it directly into your vein - do that with alcohol and you'll be dead on the spot.

    There's also the "dead brain cells" myth. In the late '70s, a researcher gave massive doses (intraveneously) to four rhesus monkeys. He observed structural changes - NOT cell death. His methodology was widely criticised at the time and no-one has ever been able to replicate his results.


    So, the research that you claim people have failed to do if they disagree with you seems to be showing the exact opposite of what you claim. Physician heal thyself!

    I'll be happy to direct you to the research debunking the schizophrenia and generic psychosis myths as well - although I should warn you that they don't all come with pictures like the "research" carried out by the Daily Mail.

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  • 88. At 2:49pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    everyone needs a canaboid :) they keep you alive.

    endocanaboids :) god love em

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  • 89. At 3:00pm on 31 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #87. Cannabis contains about 400 times as many carcinogens as tobacco and because the smoke is hotter you get greater inflammation in the mouth which is the first 'hit' in cancer development. My father is a senior cancer surgeon and is treating an epidemic in oral cancer in people in their early 20's who don't smoke tobacco.

    For what its worth I used to smoke a bit of cannabis when I was younger and drink Calvados which is laced with carcinogens (I'm also a cancer research scientist).

    I have no problem with people smoking a bit of dope, but claims that yours that 'its totally safe' are utter rubbish. If you really think this then I'd wonder about the brain cell damage too..............

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  • 90. At 3:16pm on 31 Jul 2008, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    #83 Why do polititians carry on with anti-drug policies that will never work?

    the amount of times I've been talking with my mum (60+) and my gran (85+) and they comment on the terrible drugs epidemic in this country(sic) it's quite easy to see why because there's a lot of votes to lose by being pro drugs. They honestly believe you smoke pot on day 1, crack on day 2, prostitute yourself on day 3 and murder someone for your fix on day 4.

    I do have to bite my tounge asd I've been smoking weed for 10+ years, and in that time got a degree, passed professional exams and now hold a respectable extreemly straight laced job.

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  • 91. At 3:35pm on 31 Jul 2008, Zalez7 wrote:

    Billbains

    You say it is a 'stone-cold fact' that cannabis use will turn you into a zombie and will whittle your life away...

    What a load of absolute tosh! I have been a user for 15 years and I have a good job and prospects in it.

    I would say only the weak minded allow it to take over in such away as described by yourself.

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  • 92. At 3:40pm on 31 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    JulianCritchley - we probably are philosophically polar opposites, but you have my respect for having been part of the state machine, recognised that you were doing harm rather than good, and got out. As far as I can see, some in government are too stupid or hidebound to achieve the second stage and the rest, who achieve the understanding but fail to take action, deserve only contempt. Indeed, when the consequences of what they are complicit in are fully understood, hatred of them is an understandable (if not necessarily productive) response.

    I believe the utilitarian argument against prohibition was lost by the prohibitionists some years ago. The problem is, as you suggest, a political one, and you do highlight the political issues that obstruct movement on the issue. In an effort to be constructive, let's look at the problems you mention and see how they might be confronted:

    "It would be a step into the unknown:"

    In fact, it would be a partial return to the pre-WW1 position where individual use of recreational drugs was rightly not regarded as a matter for government. Other lessons can be applied from our experience with tobacco and alcohol, and the experience of ending prohibition of alcohol in the US. This is why use of the term "relegalisation" is important, to defuse the "step into the unknown" issue.

    "Having to legally recognise some very nasty people who are currently involved in the trade"

    Again, the experience of ending alcohol prohibition in the US can be drawn upon here. Granted, our stupid foray into prohibition has injected vast amounts of capital into the hands of some very nasty types, but that can't be changed now. In the end, it's just a matter of cutting off their access to this particular money spout. As far as legally recognising them is concerned, I don't think that need happen formally, at least. I'm assuming sale of recreational drugs would come under a licensing scheme similar to what we have for alcohol - presumably heroin, cocaine, cannabis and the rest would be on sale in Oddbins etc at prices the illegal dealers couldn't compete with. I doubt they'd have a chance of competing directly against the legitimate businesses (unless by buying into them) once the industry comes within the legal framework. This assumes taxation levels are kept realistic, for this very purpose, of course.

    "International obligations"

    These would need to be dealt with, but that just requires the necessary political will. That said, I believe the only real problem would be with the US. The same debate is going on over there, and a major change in policy here could drag them into the light, as well. The US is, to a large extent, the source of the problem of prohibition - it's a function of the parts of their culture that are authoritarian and puritanical. It's also a matter of their enforcement agencies looking for something to justify their budgets and powers when alcohol prohibition ended. These problems are endemic in the US and will be hard to dislodge, but the facts are on the side of the relegalisers, so we can only hope....

    "There would be people who would self-harm through drugs and would blame the change of policy. It would take a mature society to accept that some individuals may hurt, or even kill themselves, as a result of a policy change, even if the evidence suggested that fewer people died or were harmed as a result. I'm not sure our media society is ready to deal with that degree of reason. It would take a brave Government to face down the tabloid fury in the face of anecdotes about nice middle class children who bought drugs legally and came to grief"

    This is probably the greatest political obstacle, and I personally doubt our popular culture is mature enough these days to resist such emotive points. Preparation, and inculcation of ideas of personal responsibility are the only available defences, so far as I can see. In the end, though, it is the process of winning the argument in popular circles (which has already been won amongst those who actually investigate the facts deeply and honestly) that will provide the necessary preparation.

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  • 93. At 3:58pm on 31 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Peter Sym: "Cannabis contains about 400 times as many carcinogens as tobacco and because the smoke is hotter you get greater inflammation in the mouth which is the first 'hit' in cancer development. My father is a senior cancer surgeon and is treating an epidemic in oral cancer in people in their early 20's who don't smoke tobacco. "

    But how can that happen - using cannabis is Against The Law, isn't it?

    Seriously, though, it's obviously up to individuals to choose what personal risks they take in their recreation.

    But honest information is needed, and given honest information there will be greater opportunities for and acceptance of hazard reduction. Less harmful formulations, less potent strains, safer methods of use. Prohibition gets in the way of this positive process by draping it with lies, fear and coercion.

    (Not intending to lecture you personally, by the way - I'm sure you fully recognise the above. Just responding in advance to any prohibitionists attempting to misuse the info you provided.)

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  • 94. At 4:06pm on 31 Jul 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    HardWorkingHobbes: "it's quite easy to see why because there's a lot of votes to lose by being pro drugs"

    You put your finger on one problem right there: pro-relegalisation does not necessarily mean pro-drugs, but that seems to be a difficult point for people's mums and grans to grasp.

    Personally, I'm anti-drugs in the sense that I don't use them myself (other than alcohol). But that doesn't mean I feel justified in using force to prevent somebody else from choosing to use them.

    I may disagree with your choice of recreation. But I'll fight to the death for your right to choose it. (Well, I would if I thought it would make any difference...) :-)

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  • 95. At 4:17pm on 31 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    "Seriously, though, it's obviously up to individuals to choose what personal risks they take in their recreation"

    I couldn't agree more. Hence the fact that I'm open about what carcinogens/narcotics I put into my body.

    HOWEVER, to allow adults to decide what risks they take the risks have to be publically and accurately available. The claims by the pro-cannabis posters here that the stuff is totally safe is no truer than the anti-lot who reckon it'll turn you into a crack user in a week.

    As someone who's basically neutral on this issue I find the two extreme ends of the spectrum amusingly similar in their exagerations and false claims.

    P.S just to clarify my dads patients all admit to smoking weed, but deny smoking tobacco. That maybe wasn't totally clear in the initial post.

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  • 96. At 4:28pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    LOL why is it that everyone thinks you just smoke cannabis, Anyway back to drugs :)
    For the amount of suffering we are told they cause for the negative impact on the social arenas we live in, why is it for all the warning and education that our children are getting do they still use drugs.
    Could it be that they are now so well educated by us on drugs that they see no point in not using drugs! Maybe its the fact that they have no trouble in getting hold of drugs, the offlicence in most cases says NO the kid in school says yes what you want if i cant get it i know someone that can.

    I sat in a meeting a while ago senior police and public, they asked how can we get to know our community. This made me giggle it was realy sureal, I explained the community how it was groups of people lots of them use drugs mostly cannabis so why would they want to talk to you? I gave then the rough number of people that i know and talk to that used just cannabis in the communitys just a little over a quarter for one reason or another. police replyed we want to stamp on them stamp hard and stamp them all out!!! With an attatude like that who can blame the public for not wanting the police in communitys?

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  • 97. At 4:35pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    The facts from both sides are almost right but to get them held firmly in the media and public eye the claims must be off the wall some elements of truth but not to much or that will spoil the illusion that goverments hold over drugs and the problems they cause. im pro cannabis but totaly against the sale of cannabis to under the 18-21 age group due to it fusing memory connections in the brain, which in turn will in some cases turn into mental health isues.

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  • 98. At 6:03pm on 31 Jul 2008, Trekam wrote:

    The effects of drug abuse and trafficing is a world wide problem and as the vast amount of informed people here have already commented legalization would crush the problem.
    FARC and Al Quida fund their activities with drug money. In Mexico over 4000 people were murdered in drug wars last year. Gangs make BILLIONS of dollars and the governments SPEND millions of dollars. Legalize all drugs and drug gangs cease to exist, governments would spend much less on dealing with dependency and the illicit alure of drugs would slip away. Farmers who grow cocoa or poppies could continue to do so and earn money for their families and community.
    It is time for governments to grow up and face the REAL facts; or is it just their way of enforcing authority and criminalizing the populace?

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  • 99. At 6:25pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Did i mention my brother died a heroin addict nope oh well. Spent most of his life in prison oh well. Just another Criminal oh well.

    Thanks to all you good natured people that think that drugs are bad!!!
    Drugs are not bad people are bad or is it scared you know nothing else so sufferance of generations to come world wide will continue.

    How does a addict escape when they are thrown to the wolves by the criminal justice system.

    I feel very sorry for all drug addicts not for the fact they are drug addicts but for the fact no one will help them I meen HELP them not put them in a clinic and hope they stay clean.

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  • 100. At 8:17pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This has been a topic of human debate since Christ and prob a long time before yes its me again :P
    If you follow the prohabition of the use of the oil of kings in the christian bible by jew and roman alike its good read. most will deny it though.!

    were still at it debating human need for drugs be they healing or recriational, what have we achived?

    I asked the goverment for a licence to grow its on No 10s pertition site, closed without an answer even offered to pay for it :) guess they dont want me to grow a bit and free myself of the criminal world and GW pharm. oh wait its a crime to someone!to do that!grow a plant might uproot itself and rob the local co-op :) used to be a victimless crime now its a public order crime because it harms the home office and the money they have invested in GW pharm :) education education education :) maybe the BBC would look at the future of cannabis based meds in this country in depth find out who the real movers and shakers are of this govermental cannabis farm and the levels of delta9 that they have on the new strains they have developed ... but arnt hybrid strains dangerious not if your the goverment there not :D

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  • 101. At 9:26pm on 31 Jul 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    Peter_Sym wrote
    #87. "Cannabis contains about 400 times as many carcinogens as tobacco and because the smoke is hotter you get greater inflammation in the mouth which is the first 'hit' in cancer development. My father is a senior cancer surgeon and is treating an epidemic in oral cancer in people in their early 20's who don't smoke tobacco."

    Are you seriously trying to draw a comparison between a possible link to cancer and "pot will kill you"? And you claim to be a researcher?

    "I have no problem with people smoking a bit of dope, but claims that yours that 'its totally safe' are utter rubbish."

    I take it that your referring to the imaginary claim that I never actually made. You need to learn the difference between an overdose and a disease caused by repeated use.

    "If you really think this then I'd wonder about the brain cell damage too.........."

    If you believe that nonsense about alleged "brain damage" (and fail to read the actual research) then I'd wonder about your claim to be a researcher of anything.

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  • 102. At 10:07pm on 31 Jul 2008, steelpaw wrote:

    Legalization is not the answer.

    When would you limit the user's use? In the home: what about their kids? In the car: what about our roads? In schools: what about safety? In back alleys: what about disease, crime etc.

    It doesn't appear that the problem has gone away in The Netherlands has it?

    No, the only society to have eradicated the problem has been communist China and they way they did so was to kill the importers and pushers and then send the abusers to mandatory treatment. If they didn't get better, they were left to rot or they were killed.

    You British actually were the ones that forced opium, heroin and hash onto the Chinese re the Opium Wars.

    The only real way to solve this problem is to declare a national emergency, create a special anti-drug police and volunteer squad and find the importers and dealers and quickly try them and in front of the world hang them and leave their bodies to rot outside of the corners where they ply their trade.

    Then we take the addicts and give them mandatory treatment. If they drop off the wagon, they go to jail for life.

    We also need to have real call centers where everyone from school friends to parents, teachers, employers etc can call in to let the authorities know who are using drugs.

    The problem, however, with treatment is it doesn't work and the biggest lie we are telling our children today is that treatment is an option.

    Once you are hooked, you don't get better period. They only chance we have as a society is to catch this before it gets worse.

    I know, I saw an entire generation in front of me in the US runied and as a result crime explode in my lifetime in my once great country. If we don't handle this now, we will leave a mess even worse then 19th Century China for our children.

    Legalization is no answer, not even close.

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  • 103. At 10:27pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    steelpaw wrote:
    When would you limit the user's use? In the home: what about their kids? In the car: what about our roads? In schools: what about safety? In back alleys: what about disease, crime etc.

    sorry while i pick myself up of the floor thats so funny

    when would you limit the users use ? we already do ?
    In the home yup thats one of the places it belongs not in the street or the back allys deralict houses etc were it is now.
    what about kids I think youl find the kids have it all in hand both in and out of school.
    what about safety well lets face it the current street drug trade is run for profit alone no need to think about safety.
    shall i go one.

    now you propose we kill most of the kids and thier parents a lot of sick people well in fact a great many sick people.

    you say you saw an entire generation of people go down the drain take it all drugs were legal during this time?
    there is and never has been a valid reason not to legalise drugs your living a cotton picking lie from the early industrial USA cotton and wood v hemp, hemp lost and was added to the opium treatys to prevent its development

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  • 104. At 10:36pm on 31 Jul 2008, coxbury wrote:

    I wholly agree with the 98 % majority; and have increasingly hardened my attitude against prohibition since having someone who is a heroin addict in my life. However I have one slight puzzle.

    If we LEGALISE, do we legalise completely - eg demand AND supply. For there will always be those times at 3.30am when the addict needs a fix but the chemists are closed. So there may still be dealers around for those awkward moments.

    Incidentally my mate who has been a user for about ten years is fiercely PRO prohibition!

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  • 105. At 11:04pm on 31 Jul 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 106. At 11:14pm on 31 Jul 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    That would be one of the many new problems that we would need to face if we were to look towards legal drugs.

    but then the new industry would simply replicate the current ones there are dealers making money every day every hour so why cant dedicated outlets.?.

    WE currently only see one working model of the drug world! does a coin not have 2 sides would the drug trade if legal not need outlets etc the same industry that is involved now but with a different owner ie the government.

    vending machines for cannabis are already in use in canada why not for other drugs in outlets with medical staff etc to make sure people dont have issues with drug use with sdi's etc. Weres all the money going to come from.?. hmmmm thinks about the billions in profit from drugs already being made not sure on that one ill get back to you. :)

    As i said my brother died from an overdose just over 5 years ago, you would think i would be no to drugs lock em all up but. I got educated about the issue and the lies told by week ass goverments as they try to please the voting public. there is no help for them when your dealer drops a bag on you and tells you he wants paying the next day even though you been clean a year and a half. calls back the next day not interested if you used it or not he wants his money youve had the goods. or maybe like another guy i know beaten for staying clean cos his dealer thought he was buying else were.. whos there to help them then ? there is NO help only punishments which ever way they turn.

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  • 107. At 01:18am on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Steelpaw: You ask when would relegalisers limit the use of the formerly illegal drugs. I simply ask you in return: when do we limit the use of alcohol? It is the responsibility of any drugs user not to put others at risk by his or her use. Laws that punish people who cause harm to others by their use of recreational drugs are perfectly acceptable (unlike prohibition laws, which are morally wrong).

    Your assertions that authoritarian measures can stop drug use are refuted by the real world, in which drug use is rampant in the most repressed of environments -prisons - throughout the world, including countries where the death penalty is enforced. Here's a clue for you to how that works: corruption. Your reference to Mao's China is of no use - is it your usual practice to take the statements of Communist governments regarding the success of their policies as gospel? I suppose you believed those statements about the latest production increases by the heroic proletariat as well, did you?

    Even if Mao had managed to do away with drug use, it's pretty comical expecting to apply supposed lessons from a mass murderous police state to your own country. Though from your enthusiasm for snitch "call centers", I suppose I can see your motivation there.

    Your final glaring misunderstanding is your declaration that "once you are hooked, you don't get better period". The truth is exactly the opposite, as study after study has demonstrated. The classic case, of course, is returning GIs after Vietnam. In 1971 nearly half of the US Army's enlisted men had tried opiates, and half of those showed clinical evidence of addiction. Within a year of returning to the US, the number showing signs of addiction had dropped to a few percent. They just stopped using opiates when their circumstances changed.

    That's the reality of heroin/opium use, Steelpaw. Not your fantasy of a drug that magically turns any user into a helpless victim.

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  • 108. At 10:47am on 01 Aug 2008, lien_cam wrote:

    I wonder if someone more eloquent than I would submit a petition to the PMs site, outlining the pros and cons of legalisation?

    It seems clear from reading the posts here that there is a majority feeling that the law of the land is (morally AND practically) wrong, and that there is sufficient evidence to mount a credible case against it.

    If properly organised, there would be enough signatories to make it difficult for the Government to simply dismiss a request for a truly independent enquiry.

    Could there even be a case for arguing the human rights of people (Users and dealers) affected by a trade that is tacitly allowed to exist? There would be plenty of witnesses to call on. Or the epic tax cost (and 'loss') to society?

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  • 109. At 11:03am on 01 Aug 2008, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 110. At 11:39am on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Coxton: "If we LEGALISE, do we legalise completely - eg demand AND supply. For there will always be those times at 3.30am when the addict needs a fix but the chemists are closed. So there may still be dealers around for those awkward moments."

    Re-legalise completely, but subject to licensing restrictions. It seems to me the obvious model is the structure we have for the highly dangerous and destructive recreational drug that our culture has adapted to over thousands of years - alcohol. Tax it and allow only licensed premises to sell it, under restrictions such as no sale to children.

    Just as with alcohol, the extent of any black market would depend upon the level of taxation. There's no reason to suppose this kind of model would cause any more problems with heroin and cocaine than it does with alcohol. That is, there would be problems but they would be far less than the murderous destructive waste of our current prohibition policies. And the tax revenues would go some way towards paying for the costs.

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  • 111. At 12:13pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    lien_cam: The problem is that while imo the argument for relegalisation has (for some time, now) been won amongst the thoughtful, in the sense that once exposed to full and free honest debate it's hard for anyone of reasonable intelligence to avoid coming to the conclusion that prohibition must go, the argument has not yet been won amongst the wider populace. This is largely because of the cowardice of our ruling classes (see JulianCritchley's posts above) and the anti-intellectual and authoritarian bias of our popular media, which is where the majority get their "information" on the topic.

    So if you were to take a vote you would still find a large majority against relegalisation, I believe.

    I suspect the truth will eventually penetrate the popular mind, but it's going to be a long hard struggle, and it's going to take some courage. Remember, there are some (perhaps many) who, because of their puritanical or authoritarian personalities, see no real problem with destroying other people's lives and wasting billions of pounds of other people's money in order to impose their own ideas of correct behaviour on everyone else.

    In the end, though, it's about persuading the political class to show some backbone for a change and actually earn the money and position they claim they deserve for "leading" us. I believe a cross-party consensus will be necessary to achieve real change, because no one party would have the guts to go it alone and face the kind of emotive media onslaught alluded to by JulianCritchley above. One thing's for sure, our political classes are mendacious and cowardly enough that if one party were to go it alone towards relegalisation, the other party would have no hesitation in whipping up a lying hysteria against their opponents, even though they would know in their hearts that their opponents were right. That's just the kind of people they are.

    I had responded to JulianCritchley's apt description of some of the obstacles to relegalisation, above, but my comment seems to have been "referred to moderators" for some reason (along with three or four subsequent comments by various contributors). I can't imagine why, since as far as I can see I did not breach any of the guideliness, but hopefully the position will be clarified eventually.

    In the end, though, you are right. The kind of pressure you describe is what is needed. It's just going to take a very long time to take effect.

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  • 112. At 12:27pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Coxton: one more point on using the alcohol model for heroin, cocaine, etc.

    I would see this as a starting point. It may be that some recreational drugs might require slightly different licensing rules.

    It's important to note also that societies develop their own cultural "rules" and practices for handling the recreational drugs that are popular in those societies over long periods. Prohibition profoundly inhibits this process, as well as encouraging the use of more potent forms of drugs that are subject to it. Once prohibition is removed, the healthy process of our society building up cultural norms and rules for the recreational use of currently illegal drugs, to reduce harm and increase enjoyment, will begin and over a generation or two many of the problems will be greatly mitigated, at least for those users whose lives are reasonably organised and under control. The junky will always remain, just as the alcoholic remains in our society today. Hopefully, though, the harm caused by the junky to himself and to society will be minimised once prohibition is no longer getting in the way.

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  • 113. At 12:27pm on 01 Aug 2008, perfectianjames wrote:

    there are many calls on our compassion but for me these pathetic individuals who through their fecklessness and stupidity become dependant on drugs are not one of them. They havenot only degraded themselves but feed the criminality that suuplies them. Easton's report that billions of £s of our tax money, taken from good decent hardworking people, is spent and it appears wasted trying to prevent these people taking drugs makes me feel sick especially when I think of those Primary Health Care regions which cannot afford to supply prescription drugs to their patients. Any supply of drugs should mean a prison sentence and users should have the option of compulsory work well away from their home environment or institutionalised drying out.

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  • 114. At 1:01pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    perfectianjames:

    If you genuinely are concerned only for the costs to non-drug users then you should be in favour of relegalisation. That way the drug users pay for their treatment and ideally all the other costs, through taxation added to the cost of their drugs. That's what happens with cigarettes and alcohol.

    Your suggestions of prison sentences for drugs supply and institutionalised drying out for users are just more of the same failed policies of forcing decent hardworking people to pay for the costs of prohibition.

    You may fear that the numbers of users and addicts will increase if we return to the old position we used to have in this country. I don't know if the number of addicts will increase - nobody does. There is no problem with supply at the moment, so it seems unlikely that the numbers ofaddicts will increase much, if at all. Probably the number of users will increase, especially initially because of the novelty of being able to buy heroin and cocaine over the counter (in former, freer times in Britain, opium was a commonly used drug - in the dilute form of laudanum, or its equivalents - but these are much more health-conscious times). But addiction to heroin or cocaine doesn't follow automatically from use, any more than alcoholism automatically results from social drinking, contrary to the popular myth.

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  • 115. At 1:18pm on 01 Aug 2008, hyugcy wrote:

    'The moral argument against drugs prohibition is simple and unanswerable, but the majority are nevertheless unable to grasp it because they have no real understanding of moral issues.'

    This is a facile statement, there is no such thing as an 'unaswerable argument', and to then suggest that those who disagree with your argument do so only because they do not understand 'moral issues' it is both arrogant and stupid. Morality is a personal and social construct, no two free thinking people will ever agree precisely on every aspect of what is and is not moral. Morality is about perspective, not understanding.

    While the banning of certain recreational drugs in Britain is arguably an infringement of our freedom this does not necessarily make it immoral. It can be argued that almost any law impinges on our basic freedoms, would our society me more morally correct if we had no laws at all?

    In the society we live in the majority of people expect the government to regulate their lives to a limited extent. Whether we like this or not it is true, we accept being made to wear seatbelts in cars etc. For the government to legalise drugs would send out a false message that recreational drugs are not seriously dangerous and that there use is socially acceptable. Far from de-glamourising drugs, this would have the reverse impact and could only lead to far greater drug use which surely we agree would be a bad thing?

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  • 116. At 1:32pm on 01 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    I did a nice e-pert on no10's website asking for a licence to grow in a 6foot by 4 foot room freeing myself of the need to supply the drug trade and all that goes with it it closed with 50+ sigs i didn't spread the word of it as its up to people to look for these things. but there are plenty of pertitions signed on the no10 web site for medical cannabis for legal cannabis for those of you with a bit of money to waste could always run for the LCA as an MP they are after smoking houses for the public!

    perfectianjames wrote:
    there are many calls on our compassion but for me these pathetic individuals who through their fecklessness and stupidity become dependant on drugs are not one of them.
    Tell the 11 year old in care that been abused by his parents then the care staff, the other old children thast they are pathetic indiviuals, with people like yourself around its no wonder the world will not change. I realy hope that in this life you gain true understanding of drug addiction through your children only then will perfect people see the perfect world they create.

    TELL me you know what its like to see your 11 year old brother be turned into a drug addict by the system there to protect him.

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  • 117. At 1:55pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    hyugcy: The moral argument goes to philosophical depths that it would not be apporopriate or useful to plumb on this blog. That's why I chose to stick primarily to the pragmatic argument. Suffice it to say that you have no right to impose upon others by force your opinion of what they should be allowed to do in their private lives, absent direct and real harm to others, and this remains true whether or not a majority happens to agree with you. If you disagree, you are wrong, but this is not the time or the place to debate that issue.

    If the best argument you can raise in favour of prohibition is a hand-waving declaration about "sending out a false message", then yuo would seem not to have thought much about this issue. Does the fact that alcohol and tobacco are not prohibited "send out a false message that those seriously dangerous drugs are not seriously dangerous"? No, of course not. The government quite reasonably puts out lots of messages drawing attention to the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, and we as a society rightly recognise that it is the responsibility of the individual to decide whether or not to accept those dangers (where they are to ourselves) as the price of our recreation, and that prevention or punishment is appropriate where harm is caused to others as a result of drug use. Exactly the same applies to heroin, cocaine, mdma and cannabis as to alcohol and tobacco.

    You follow this with an unsupported assertion that sending out this false message would lead to an increase in drugs use (maybe relegalisation would, maybe it wouldn't, in the long run) and yet a further assertion that this would be "a bad thing" (this after your earlier claim that "morality is a personal and social construct", forsooth!)

    For what it's worth, I too suspect that the use of formerly prohibited drugs might increase somewhat with relegalisation. I doubt if addiction will by much, if at all, but what is very likely is that the harm caused by drugs use will be reduced massively, because users will have access to reliable clean drugs of known potencies and will not have to associate with dangerous criminals to make their purchase, turf wars between drug dealers will become pretty much a thing of the past, a huge flow of money (ie wealth and power) into organised crime will be cut off overnight, and police, court and prison resources will be freed up to deal with real criminals (thieves, robbers, rapists, etc).

    But you seem to regard those vast costs as a price worth continuing to pay to "send your message", so doubtless you'll keep supporting prohibition.

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  • 118. At 1:56pm on 01 Aug 2008, perfectianjames wrote:

    RandelCousins

    It is not just a matter of cost, it is a self evident fact that these drugs cause harm to the users and the users often cause harm to others. But those of us who are not on a constant high know that costs matter. You have no idea what the results of a free for all would be, the people who really care in this debate are those who support prohibition.

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  • 119. At 2:15pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    hyugcy: I will concede that my original comment on morality was needlessly provocative. Given my intention to avoid the moral discussion, for the reasons I gave above, I should really just have left out any mention of it, but I just enjoy poking at people who think they are entitled to tell me how to live my life. Mea culpa.

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  • 120. At 2:17pm on 01 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    to force an addict to give up drugs is a direct breach of the addicts human right's, ask the goverment they have just paid out millions to such addicts they forced to give up.

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  • 121. At 2:26pm on 01 Aug 2008, taureanright wrote:

    The socialists on the Beeb website as usual have no idea. Decriminalising wont work because of all the myriad of laws that would stop a legitimate company ( or the Government) from dealing in a product that is highly likely to cause addiction and suffering in its users. No insurance company would cover a business in that market place and the HSE and MHRA would be all over you like a rash. The tobacco companies and legitimate drug companies are already fighting huge law suits - how much of their time would these new organisations spend defending the indefensible? Equally are the people who are making all this money and paying no taxes suddenly going to go legit and fill in a tax form?

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  • 122. At 2:34pm on 01 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    hmmmm a new light on this as our own native stock are just a waist of tax payers money.

    lets pick a nice little african nation say.
    were at war with this other trible nation who share our home soil, we have killed just about every grown male, I know we will recruite under pain of death to the recruits family. force them into war numb them with drugs create an army of addicts, who will kill without question for the next hit.

    That is the reality of total drug control how long before its on our streets were children are children free from the harm of drugs because they are illegal. After all no children die as a result of drugs in this country :)

    What is happening now is just the start the world has changed and we still live with old ideas. WE need to change before its to late.
    I posted on the sun forums some time last year about the amount of heroin to be consumed in this country i put it at 36 tons a few months later a goverment report gave the same amount uncanny hay :P
    now look at that for other drugs and for heroin in years past its growing year on year at its current rate within 10 years drug consumption under current law will be equal with alcohol. yer yer im mad etc so ill stick it in my water bong and smoke it :)

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  • 123. At 2:45pm on 01 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    chemovars are being created by companys for wholesale public useage licenced for sale by the goverment so no it will not get in the way.

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  • 124. At 3:03pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    perfectianjames: "You have no idea what the results of a free for all would be"

    Nor do you, of course. However, we had a "free for all" (as far as drugs are concerned) in this country prior to WW1 and society didn't fall apart. Indeed, crime rates in this country were some of the lowest recorded anywhere in history. As I pointed out above, opium use was commonplace in this country in the form or laudanum, and heroin was used in cough medicines, and yet society was perfectly ordered.

    The evidence, such as it is, is with the relegalisers on this point, I think.

    "It is not just a matter of cost, it is a self evident fact that these drugs cause harm to the users and the users often cause harm to others. But those of us who are not on a constant high know that costs matter. "

    Drinkers of alcohol often cause harm to themselves and others. So (arguably) do smokers. So do drivers. The question is, which causes more harm - the drug use or the prohibition. When you actually look at the evidence it is obvious that prohibition is by far the greater cause of harm to others, which obviously is more important than whatever harm users do to themselves. The problem is, most people simply don't notice the harm caused by prohibition.

    How much harm does a £5.3 billion (!) industry in the hands of organised crime do? It's in the hands of organised crime solely and entirely because of prohibtion, not because of drugs use. How much of that money goes to corrupting our police, courts and prisons, or buying guns to protect turf?

    Then there's the opportunity cost. Wouldn't you prefer the massive government resources devoted to prohibition were either left untaxed in the hands of decent hardworking people, or used to pursue real criminals - robbers, thieves, rapists - and give them longer sentences? How many hospitals or schools could be funded for the cost of the huge structure of law enforcement, criminal justice and imprisonment currently devoted to prohibition and its consequences?

    As I said at the start: anyone who believes prohibition is worthwhile simply hasn't properly considered the costs.

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  • 125. At 3:28pm on 01 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Taureanright:

    Where there's money to be made, business will follow. Insurers will simply impose whatever requirements they think will protect them from liability and charge high premiums. It's likely any law repealing prohibition will include some clarification of the responsibilities of suppliers.

    "Equally are the people who are making all this money and paying no taxes suddenly going to go legit and fill in a tax form? "

    They'll have to find other ways to make money. It's unlikely they'll get a license to continue to supply, and they won't be able to compete with legitimate businesses (though doubtless some of the higher level drug crime organisations might buy into legitimate businesses to replace their lost government subsidy). The history of the ending of US alcohol prohibition will provide a useful guide.

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  • 126. At 8:10pm on 01 Aug 2008, superiorheartsaver wrote:

    As the mother of a son who was killed by these drugs I would like to see much stronger sentences for suppliers. My son died because a so called friend supplied and injected him with heroin and all the man got was three years. The killer had a record with the police for possession of a class A drug. These type of people prey on the vunerable and lonely. If the sentances were stronger my son may still be alive today. Ten years for possession and twenty + would be the first start if I had any power over this. The police do not bother that much when it comes to drugs. I have learnt this form my sons experience.

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  • 127. At 8:16pm on 01 Aug 2008, superiorheartsaver wrote:

    I do not unerstand your reason for an explaination. What I have written is true.

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  • 128. At 8:18pm on 01 Aug 2008, superiorheartsaver wrote:

    I still do not understand why I am getting this message???

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  • 129. At 8:44pm on 01 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Heartsaver you have just explained why they must become legal fully controled and licenced.
    With the current law as it stands there are a lot of people in prisons that should not be there, so as a result the big time dealers have nothing to fear from the justice system why because its full of small time people. Take away drugs from all these people through true legal acceptance that people will use drugs regaurdless of punishment levels. This then frees up the prison system for those that will continue to cause sufferance to peoples lives through abuse and control through drugs.

    Trust me when i say that there are some very very sick people out there. they use drugs to have what they want when they want and mostly with the people they want!



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  • 130. At 02:47am on 02 Aug 2008, cyncastical wrote:

    When raising kids one of the things you learn quickly is that one of the best ways of getting your child to do something is to say to them

    "Whatever you do, DON'T DO THAT!"

    In a nutshell that is why prohibition will never work.

    #27

    "The real question is, if drug taking is intrinsically evil, and like most people, I think it is; then surely it is essential for the state to at least attempt to supress it."

    If taking drugs is evil, what about the drugs like:

    caffeine?
    alcohol?
    chocolate?

    #115

    "Far from de-glamourising drugs, this would have the reverse impact and could only lead to far greater drug use "

    I take it you've done the research on that statement?? care to share?

    Your post does come across in the same vein as the whinings of the thick headed morons I read occasionally in the tabloid press talking about "how the 24 hour drinking laws are a failure" and how we should get back to the goode olde dayes. Whilst totally failing to realise that Britains drinking culture took years and years to establish and is going to take upwards of a generation to sort itself out.

    Legalisation is not a quick or easy fix, it would need to be co-ordinated with lots of other countries, it will take politicians in power who care more about the issues involved than the medias perception of them, i.e. the kind of politicians this country hasn't seen for at least a decade, the drug information provded by the government will need drastic overhaul, and in the immediate term it will cost a lot of money and resources.

    In the long run however it's the *only* fix. (no pun intended)

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  • 131. At 12:39pm on 03 Aug 2008, ter2208 wrote:

    When considering the legalisation of drugs people primarily concern themselves of the issues it would have in their country alone.

    There are many more problems in the producing countries. The amount of money budgeted by these poor nations to combat the gangs is miniscule compared to the organised criminal groups ever growing financial backing. The amount of lives taken as a result are phenomenal. It would be an travesty and an insult to these countries drugs enforcers if the UK legalised the products that these people have risked so much for, to try and limit this.

    Yes, there would be less death and drug related crime, but do you really want these substances readily available? Like with many other issues, the best way to combat the problem is at its source. The worrying thing is that this is almost impossible due to the amount of people and money involved in the industry.

    Legalisation should not be seen an appropriate fix to soemthing which is "too hard to successfully enforce."

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  • 132. At 3:23pm on 03 Aug 2008, spenny2007 wrote:

    now lets look at this from a different angle..how many drug addicts go into towns on weekends and vomit all over the town,smash property up assault people..use constant abusive language..go into food outlets and throw food at people and again fight...use public transport and vomit or abuse fellow passengers????? not a high precentage but alas the gouvernment and narrow minded individuals still don't realise/accept or want to believe that BOOZE is the worst drug abused globally..but because the authorities don't get any tax revenue from drugs unlike booze. So the individuals who use drugs get all the persecution...about time we all smelt the coffee and stop this blanketing of the truth....i have experimented with drugs and booze since teenage years and can quite honestly say that i have more control of my behaviour when intoxicated by drugs rather than booze,for a start booze is a depressant so naturally people get low after consuming vast quantities, judgement becomes impared confussion and occasionally anger sets in..but the consequences of peoples fueled up boozing is usually paid for by some unsuspecting individual with boot fist or head butt..nice aint it....so at the end of the day as long as the establishment is getting some of the money spent on booze all of the above is ok...but if your abusing yourself taking something the establishment aint getting their hands on the profits then hang draw and quarter the individual who opts out of playing the profit making game...its all a sham and if the establishment was making vast ammounts of money out of drug misuse they would'nt give a toss about the person using drugs at all...there is also proof that nhs and other health care bodies spends more money on booze related illnesses than drug related illnesses...so get a grip of reality and stop having a go at people who have made a different choice to you....

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  • 133. At 10:49am on 04 Aug 2008, my_comments wrote:

    I understand the feeling that the "war" on drugs has failed and time to abandon it's policing.

    Personally while I think making soft drugs legal seems acceptable, hard drugs are quite dangerous. In the same way any poison needs regulation I think hard drugs need to be regulated.

    Also you could argue that the "war" on any crime has failed. Crimes such as murder, shoplifting, rape to name just a few - have been with us for years and will never be stopped completely. So does that mean we should make them legal because we know we can never prevent them?

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  • 134. At 11:41am on 04 Aug 2008, NuclearChicken wrote:

    I would just like to point out that drug taking is neither immoral nor intrinsically evil, it is STUPID. And yes, I do include alcohol and tobacco in that statement.

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  • 135. At 12:59pm on 04 Aug 2008, OneOfExperience wrote:

    A question of morality,
    If drugs are thought to be moraly wrong then perhaps they should be prohibited. However we wouldn't want to be hypocritical now would we, we could say that its moraly wrong to advertise sweets to children that could potentialy harm there health, perhaps we should prohibit the sale of sweets to children. Why stop there we could lock up the sweet chop owners, but there grandmothers will still bake them cakes and cookies, so lets lock up the grandmothers.... but oh no now the kids are stealing sweets, they are criminals lock up the kids.

    My point is prohibition punishes those it aims to protect, makes criminals of people who do no harm to society.

    The purpose of the law should be to protect society.

    Children will always want sweets and there will always be people who want to get high, (more than most people would dare imagine.) Prohibition is designed to protect that minority who end up losing control of their use, or who don't want control of their use.

    I compare the problem to childhood obecity, and sugest that the solution to these two problems could be very similar.

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  • 136. At 1:08pm on 04 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    my_comments:

    Your error comes from confusing two different categories of activity. Drug-taking is entirely different from murder/rape/theft.

    The latter are real crimes that would be wrong whether or not they are "legalised" by state laws - they involve direct attacks on other people. The former are personal recreational activities that do not involve direct attacks upon other people but that the state has criminalised for reasons of public policy. Prohibited drugs were legal before they were prohibited and can be made legal again. What was done by legislation can be reversed by legislation.

    With real crimes, the whole point of the state is to control them as much as they can be controlled. As you rightly say, we do not and should not abandon that fight just because it will never be over or never won. The goal is to reduce the crimes themselves to the minimum possible, and we do our best.

    On the other hand, the argument for drugs prohibition is based upon minimising not the drug-taking itself (or we would also prohibit alcohol consumption), but the associated collateral harm caused by the drug-taking to the victim and to those around him or her, and to society as a whole. If that is the justification then it has clearly failed and should be stopped.

    If your suggestion is to relegalise "soft" drugs while keeping prohibition in place for "hard" drugs, then in some ways it represents the worst of both worlds. It keeps all the moral problems of prohibting people from exercising their freedom, provides a justification for all the bureaucracies and state agencies to keep spending our money on a futile fight, and keeps pumping money into organised crime.

    Both the state bureaucracies (police, lawyers, prisons, social services) and organised crime will simply shift their activities into the remaining prohibited drugs. After a few years, cannabis would become a pretty unremarkable drug akin to tobacco, and we'll be getting the same hysteria about other demon drugs.

    Relegalise the lot! Return to liberty and personal responsibility and rip the money nipple out of the mouths of organised crime and the state. But relegalised need not necessarily mean unregulated - alcohol is regulated today, and a similar approach should be adopted for heroin, cocaine, mdma, cannabis and every other recreational drug in existence.

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  • 137. At 1:30pm on 04 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    ter2208:

    It's precisely the producing countries that have the most to gain from relegalisation. The problems caused in these countries result from prohibition, not from drugs use.

    Prohibition essentially exports many of the consequences of our rich societies' moral incontinence over recreational drug abuse, to countries ill-equipped to cope with such additional problems.

    At the present time, a coca grower in Central America or a poppy grower in Asia is entirely at the mercy of paramilitary criminal or insurgent organisations because he cannot turn to the state for protection even if the state could provide it. Once these drugs are relegalised, he is just another farmer. The immense profits aren't there to attract the gangs to prey upon him and he can turn to the state for protection if they do nonetheless. Which is not, of course, to say that his life will be a bed of roses, but at least one of the ways in which we in the west subsidise his victimisation will have been removed. And the main source of funding for the aforementioned paramilitary criminal and insurgent organisations will simultaneously have been removed.

    Here are the concluding comments of Sir Keith Morris (ambassador to Colombia 1990-94) in evidence to Parliament in 2002:

    "Legalisation of drugs is another matter altogether. I have long known that many senior Colombian politicians privately favoured such an outcome. This was confirmed during a visit I made in November, the first since my own views has been much publicized there following my Guardian article of 4 July. Almost everyone I met raised the subject with me. All thanked me for having made clear the cost that Colombia was paying in the drugs war. All but one then took exactly the same line. Legalisation of drugs was the only solution to Colombia's long-running internal conflict. The case for it had to be made in the consumer countries. Colombians could not do it. Most left unsaid the reason why. They would be denounced in Washington as soft on drugs. Those who spoke thus included people at the most senior level in government, the central bank, the political parties and the private sector. Their public duties and/or their public stand mean that their lives are daily at risk from the drugs traffickers and the three illegal groups of extreme left and right which draw their principal funding from the trade. Their views deserve to be taken into account."

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  • 138. At 2:34pm on 04 Aug 2008, NuclearChicken wrote:

    OneOfExperience: That has to be one of the most far-fetched analogies I've ever heard.

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  • 139. At 2:59pm on 04 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    NuclearChicken: "I would just like to point out that drug taking is neither immoral nor intrinsically evil, it is STUPID. And yes, I do include alcohol and tobacco in that statement."

    Speaking of analogies, as far as I'm concerned, mountaineering is STUPID. It's very dangerous, self-indulgent and imposes costs on society when rescues and medical treatment are needed, and although I can understand that some people get a buzz out of it, I'm not personally tempted to partake.

    But, strangely, I don't feel any need to lock up Chris Bonnington and imprison people manufacturing and supplying crampons and carabiners.

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  • 140. At 3:52pm on 04 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    reading the posts I come across those defending cannabis etc as a sort of alternative and harmless lifestyle. I wrote earlier that cannabis (read dope - very apt) is a drug that will take away the users life and I told of people I knew in Holland who smoked themselves into oblivion.
    Just to mention in the "drug hierarchy" dope comes just above goof ball users (barbiturates, rohypnol etc) - because dope is regarded as being totally embarrassing - dope users usually are boring, giggling student types sitting cross legged on the floor of someone or others flat visiting the kitchen every few minutes to eat. Dope is not a serious drug merely one that enables the users to fabricate some sort of social network while at the same time appearing to be "alternative". Heroin is a serious drug because it requires the user to dedicate their life to supplying sufficient quantities to stave off withdrawals - the difference between heroin and other joke drugs like cocaine, dope etc is that the addict is really an addict and not just someone playing at using. Not to excuse heroin - it destroyed my life for many years untill I went through extreme pain to get off it - my point is that cocaine, dope etc are not addictive in themselves but the "life style" around them are addictive to the smokers. William Burroughs said the only use for cocaine was to mix with heroin - anyone who has done snowballs - speed balls, will understand what he meant. Please dont denegrate the discussion here with bringing up ridiculous drugs likfe dope into the discussion.

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  • 141. At 4:20pm on 04 Aug 2008, NuclearChicken wrote:

    RandalCousins: I don't disagree with your assertion that mountain-climbing is a stupid and dangerous activity. But surely the harm or costs to society is infinitesimal when compared to the impact of drugs (again I include tobacco and alcohol).

    And, your analogy doesn't mean that the consumption of drugs isn't stupid.

    I am far from intelligent enough to know how to best deal with the impact of drugs on society, but I would like to see the reclassification of drugs based on the "index of harms" recently published in The Lancet. This would, at least, put things into some sort of perspective.



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  • 142. At 11:25am on 05 Aug 2008, emshim02 wrote:

    I think its sad that all illegal drug users are classed as the same, and all illegal drugs are classed as the same, and the people classing these are people that don't seem to have their own understanding on why people are doing these drugs etc. As a recreational drug user myself, I may be classed as something I am not by these people. I have a full time job, a degree, I volunteer for many organisations and charity events, donate a lot of money to charity and do not mug or steal from other people. But I still enjoy cannabis in the evenings whilst at home after work to relax and have a good evening in. And I also enjoy going to clubs every so often, taking some higher class drugs and having a great time. The bad thing is, to get hold of these, I then have to start going behind peoples backs, taking to people I would rather not be socialising with, and giving money to people that I know are members of gangs and dangerous people. ANd this is not just me, this is the majority of drug users in the UK.

    OK so after that I have a few points to make:

    OK, so town on a Friday night, the law abiders getting totally smashed on alcohol, starting fights, shouting, waking up people on early saturday shifts, arguing with police etc etc all totally legal. Whereas the cannabis smokers sat at home with their friends, pretty chilled out, watching some movie and ordering pizza is illegal.
    Exctasy u users are much les likely to die that a person taking asparin, and causes much less health problems, but can get years in prison for it, much longer than someone carrying a knife. There are more people dead inhaling laughing gas than smoking cannabis, although "laughing gas" or nitrous oxide is legal, where as cannabis isn't. And saying that, there has only been one death by laughing gas anyway.

    I dont agree with just letting the world get high, but some serious consideration needs to be taken when naming people as druggies, classing drugs, and looking down upon people for having a little bit of fun in their lives, taking some recreational drugs and having a laugh whilst the rest of the world worries about the smallest things when they should just get on and enjoy their lives whilst their here.

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  • 143. At 11:25am on 05 Aug 2008, emshim02 wrote:

    Whether choosing to do drugs or not that is.

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  • 144. At 5:27pm on 05 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    emshim02 - I dont mean to be arrogant here ...but please just listen to yourself. Coming out with the alcohol versus "harmless" dope smoking line - not wanting to get involved with "the wrong type of person" . The vast majority of dope smokers use cocaine - although cocaine by itself is a rather pointless extravagance it can be expensive and mentally addictive. William Burroughs said of cocaine in Naked Lunch...(I paraphrase)the cocaine user will go looking for it all night trying to find some - once he realises he cant score hell go home and go to sleep. That is the nature of mental addiction as opposed to Heroin addiction.
    Your lifestyle on dope seems pretty close to the one I described earlier - staying in, smoking, "chilled" and ordering Pizza (munchies) - pretty standard behaviour and no different to my 2 aquaintances who spent their lives giggling to each other selling pepsi at day.
    Smoking dope makes you stink, it ruins your teeth, gives you the slight air of a bumbling elderly person who cant quite remember what he was supposed to be doing - and I havnt even mentioned the shorts.
    A friend of mine in Holland - dope smoker although he did move onto Heroin when his girlfriend left him - and why did she leave him...well..we all went to see David Bowie in Rotterdam - he wore sandals, shorts and a tee shirt. You should have seen his girlfriend....thats what dope does to you

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  • 145. At 8:58pm on 05 Aug 2008, mandysok wrote:

    I think it's incredibly difficult to present a convincing case for the legalisation of illegal drugs in the UK as being a realistic solution to Britain's current drugs 'epidemic,' as it is simply too radical for many people to stomach. I agree with many of the comments made so far, for example people have made the point that there is a widespread, and largely uniformed view in this country that those who use cannabis will eventually end up heroin addicts (the majority won't.) I definitely think that there should be some attempt to at least reclassify drugs in relation to the recent study which, for example, ranked ecstasy as the 18th most dangerous drug of 20. The problem is that even a scientific study such as this, which presents informed facts from experienced scientists, would be far too radical for the average politician or voter to even consider believing and this is so frustrating.
    The current police system for controlling drug use seems to be having very little impact on high level dealers; instead it is the user who is punished, sometimes even laughably so. As an example of this I cite the fact that my friend and I spent the night in a cell in London rather than enjoying the night out we had planned for possessing about half a gram of MDMA between us (the police officer who interviewed me actually laughed at the amount of drugs I had on me.) This is regardless of the fact that neither of us had any previous record for any crime. We are both high achieving students at a good university and neither of us is from a broken home or a 'deprived' background, which is how many people would perceive drug users. Admittedly, I am not an excessively regular recreational drug user, it is literally only the odd big night out when drugs might feature. My friends and I are intelligent people who are fully aware of the risks drug taking entails yet we STILL decide to do so, and it is difficult to understand why we are unable to do so within the law. I think I’m right in saying that drug possession for personal use is one of the only crimes which has no direct effect on others; those who take ecstasy are highly unlikely to go out assaulting people/ causing danger (they’ll more likely be declaring their love for strangers and hugging each other!) I'm positive that my friends and I are not alone in the fact that we will only take drugs on the odd occasion, and am confident to make the assertion that the same applies to a large proportion of those who have found themselves in a similar situation to us, wondering how the hell they ended up in a police station with no intention of harming anyone else! While I won't attempt to complain about the fact that I now have a police caution to my name-I realise that what I did was against the law- something tells me the police might be targetting the wrong people in their supposed ‘war on drugs.’

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  • 146. At 12:37pm on 06 Aug 2008, bonitagringuita wrote:

    Forgive me, there is probably nothing I can say here that has not already been said in one of the many responses above.

    This is a subject that I have been thinking a lot about recently. I majored in Philosophy, focusing in Ethics. I have been writing an essay for my own enjoyment about the ethics of legalisation for a few weeks. Last week three of my friends were charged, one with dealing and two with possession of weed in a country which takes drug offences very seriously.

    What really gets me is how unfair it is that people think they can pass moral judgment on people who take or sell illegal drugs when they themselves take legal drugs.

    I work as a bartender. I sell alcohol to people I do not know. Almost certainly some of these people are alcoholics, drinking themselves to death. Some surely go home and beat up their wives at night as a result of the alcohol I have sold them.

    Alcohol causes massive social problems. Yet I feel it is wrong to say that the average person who drinks alchohol is immoral and deserves to be punished. Just as I feel it is wrong to say that drug users deserve to be punished.

    Dealing drugs attracts much larger penalties than using. This is reflected in a wider public belief that supplying drugs is bad, worse than taking them. Yet I don't believe many people think that those like myself who supply alcohol are acting immorally. Perhaps I am wrong- please enlighten me if you feel this to be the case.

    The friend of mine who only supplies weed to our circle of friends is likely to go to prison for a very long time, while the worst I have to deal with is harrassment from drunk customers and taxation on my income. It isn't fair.

    Perhaps the world would be a better place if there were no drugs. But prohibition is no option. It ruins the lives of innocent people and does not deter people from taking drugs.

    There are many worse things in the world than people taking drugs. Take as an example the fashion industry, which is responsible for the unnecessary deaths and suffering of millions of people and animals.

    Right now the moral zeitgeist is at a very strange place indeed and it is painful for the intelligent liberal minority who can see through the propaganda and must witness the unjust persecution of innocent people.

    We can only hope public opinion changes soon, and for that to happen the pro-legalisation side must have the courage to stand up for what we believe.

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  • 147. At 3:30pm on 06 Aug 2008, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    Is there such a thing as morality? I don't believe so. There is only peoples attitudes.
    What we need to decide is what will do least harm. Staying with the Current situation where Drugs are sold by Criminals or Re-legalise Tax and regulate Drug so they can be sold by the state.
    Its that simple. Youngsters are going to try drug no matter whether that remain illegal or are re-legalised. The Question is who you you rather have your children buying them from.

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  • 148. At 5:35pm on 06 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 149. At 6:17pm on 06 Aug 2008, livingcrossie wrote:

    The only amswer is to legalize drugs and control use through clinics ect,this would stop the practice of dealers giving freebe`s to youngsters in order to get them addicted,
    as a hospital worker I come across a mumber of users,and the majority of them wish to come off thier addiction,but thier is little help available,and the continuous barrage from dealers is threatning.
    If we took the money out of it things would only improve,but if the answer is that simple,why is it not implomented,Well! perhaps the MP

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  • 150. At 6:23pm on 06 Aug 2008, livingcrossie wrote:

    The only amswer is to legalize drugs and control use through clinics ect,this would stop the practice of dealers giving freebe`s to youngsters in order to get them addicted,
    As a hospital worker I come across a mumber of users,and the majority of them wish to come off thier addiction,but there is little help available,and the continuous barrage from dealers is threatning.
    If we took the money out of it things would only improve,but if the answer is that simple,why is it not implemented,Well! perhaps the MP`s Judge`s,Bankers,City Traders,MD`s Senior Police officers,would not like to be seen making there way to the clinic.

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  • 151. At 11:02pm on 10 Aug 2008, UKIntel wrote:

    China appears to be flavour of the moment in the press.

    China's drug's epidemic was solved almost overnight the simple expedient of rounding up all the drugs dealers, from the top level traffickers down to the local dealer on the street corner, kneeling them down... and putting a bullet in the back of their heads. The cost of the bullet (pence) was charged to the family of the deceased.

    The vast majority of the above comments consist of already comprehensively discredited liberal mush which ignores both the abject failure of current 'liberal' policy and the sheer scale of human misery inflicted by the drugs trade from field to street corner. You can say what you want about 'China's (poor) Human Rights Record' however the 'liberal hand wringing' approach however has not, cannot, and will not get us anywhere. The 'Decriminalising drugs' approach will be disastrous. No matter how much money the state throws at 'combatting' the problem by diktats, 'programs', 'education', 'policing' etc. etc., the problem given human nature, almost unlimited profits to those involved in the trade and no effective sanctions is here to stay and will only get worse.

    In fact the Chinese solution is demonstrably close on 100% effective, costs nothing to administer, has no ongoing costs and requires no new places in prison to be provided for.

    In my opinion we will ultimately adopt this solution. The question is, how many otherwise innocent lives will be ruined, and how many billions of pounds pointlessly spent, and how much associated crime committed along the chain between Columbia and Clapham, Lash Kagar and Luton before this reality comes home? Understand that the last time you were mugged, your home broken into, your car broken into, or your credit card cloned, the chances are that you were being preyed upon to fund some part of the drugs chain. Ask yourself whether the current approach is acceptable.

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  • 152. At 11:19pm on 10 Aug 2008, UKIntel wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 153. At 00:30am on 11 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    lol thats a laff gun to the heaD.
    you go live in china :)
    A drug user has every right to an equal life and quality of life that any one of any minority or majority person does.

    Maybe that should be the punishment for an unprovoked attack on a Friday or Sat night. That would soon clean up the streets of the country and get rid of all the scum :)

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  • 154. At 12:55pm on 11 Aug 2008, bonitagringuita wrote:

    UKIntel- do you drink alchohol? More to the point, have you ever bought someone a drink?

    If so I suggest you deserve a bullet in the head as much as any drug dealer. I work in a pub- do you think I deserve to die?

    Do you not realise that drug addicts commit crime to feed their habits because criminalisation leads to greatly inflated prices?

    On a different note, why does so much talk about drugs seem to suggest that a large number of drug users are addicts, when in fact a very small minority are?

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  • 155. At 07:18am on 12 Aug 2008, captainkirk88 wrote:

    I find it intensely hypocritical that we continue to clamp down on the likes of cannabis (hard drugs are a different story altogether and more dangerous) when drinking is well documented as a social menace, yet completely legal. People deserve the right to make their own choices about softer drugs, and be well educated about health problems. If you eat too much its bad for you, its all about moderation, as with anything. If i eat in excess there are health problems, same as if i smoke in excess, drink in excess...etc. I prefer cannabis to alcohol, which makes me feel nauseous at times and has given birth to a binge drinking culture which i despise. But im a university student, with a loving family who know i smoke it, and i havent had any problems with it, save for problems caused by prohibition, ie contamination, dealing with dodgy characters, fear of being reprimanded for something which only affects myself and so on. Perhaps if they realise how much money they could make taxing it, simultaneously taking money away from criminals, theyd make the change. But that would be far too daring wouldnt it?

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  • 156. At 1:40pm on 12 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    The comment above from "UKIntel" is an interesting one. "UKIntel" comes across as right wing/authoritarian in this post, but in another post on the "Celebrating the Knife" thread he (I make an assumption here, obviously) shows evidence of some understanding of individual rights and the distinction between legality and morality, when he talks about the right to self defence. This would suggest he falls into the right wing/liberal camp (which is the one I share, as it happens).

    It's not clear whether in his post on this thread he is using "liberal" in the incorrect US political sense (meaning leftist) or in the correct sense of meaning respecting genuine individual rights (freedom of speech, movement, association, property, self defence - not equality, respect, wealth and all those leftist pretend "rights").

    Now why would a person who understands the importance of genuine individual rights fail to extend that understanding to the drugs situation in the way "UKIntel" does on this thread? Why does he lurch from referring with apparent comprehension to the kinds of constitutional protection the UK and US liberal tradition has insisted upon to protect individuals from tyranny, to an absurdly authoritarian state-worshipping idea of the state executing individuals for engaging in a proscribed recreational activity, or for supplying others with the materials to do so. Then there's his strange idea, in the face of all our knowledge of history, that the pronouncements of the Chinese Communist regime on their social achievements are somehow either honest or remotely applicable to our own society. Bizarre.

    From the evidence of his posts, I can only explain the apparent contradiction by assuming for the moment that "UKIntel" has a somewhat hysterical mis-comprehension of the nature of recreational drugs and the users thereof. Most likely either some particularly harsh personal experience, or simply over-exposure to state propaganda. Possibly also a bit of mis-guided political partisanship, regarding druggies as leftist hippies and those who seek to re-legalise drug possession and use as necessarily also leftists?

    UKIntel, you really need to find some honest information about recreational drugs. You need to come to understand that alcohol is broadly comparable to heroin and cocaine as a recreational drug, and that returning to the position in this country as it was prior to WW1, when both opium and heroin were freely available and widely used, is, or should be, at least as much a right-wing as a leftist policy. It's about returning the law towards its rightful position of protecting individuals from breaches of their genuine rights, rather than its modern leftist use of social engineering and control.

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  • 157. At 2:06pm on 12 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    captainkirk88: "Hard drugs" are not "a different story altogether". Alcohol is a "hard drug" by any sensible assessment, not a "soft drug".

    Any and all recreational drugs should be legal to use under reasonably controlled (licensed) circumstances that restrict legal sale to adults only and raise money through taxation to pay for costs incurred as a result of recreational drugs use (medical and other social costs, etc). Honest information about the potential consequences should be widely available and the products should be clearly, honestly and accurately identified.

    We as a society should then recognise that the choice by a notionally informed adult to use a recreational drug and risk the consequences is one any adult is free to take, just as adults are free to take up any other risky recreational activity. Responsibility for any and all consequences rests with the individual who chooses to use the drug, and not in any degree with the government or anyone else. However, that individual is as entitled to take advantage of socialised healthcare as any of the rest of us are if we suffer through our recreational activity - at least once recreational drugs are re-legalised, the drugs users themselves will be paying for their share of that healthcare, instead of the rest of us paying for it as is the case under prohibition.

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  • 158. At 2:25pm on 12 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    bonitagringuita: "why does so much talk about drugs seem to suggest that a large number of drug users are addicts, when in fact a very small minority are?"

    Because popular understanding and knowledge of the drugs issue has been clouded for decades by disinformation and propaganda - not just by our government (with our own tax money, by the way), but also by those who wish to glamourise, justify, or exaggerate their own or others' recreational drugs use.

    The idea of being a helpless addict suits those who wish to justify their own recreational or escapist use of drugs, or their resort to criminal activity to fund said recreation. Much better to claim to be a victim of an evil drug than to admit to being an abuser of oneself or others.

    The idea that drugs somehow magically take away the willpower of any who touch them suits those who wish to impose prohibition, by allowing them to pretend it's not an issue of individual responsibility but one of social protection. Drugs are supposedly just too dangerous for us to be allowed to choose for ourselves (despite the evidence that heroin and opium were freely available in Britain before prohibition was imposed and society not only didn't collapse but in fact was unusually well ordered by global and historical standards).

    The salaries and budgets of countless government or charity employees depend intimately upon the idea that recreational drugs use is addiction rather than choice, and further that it is a medical issue rather than one of individual responsibility.

    None of which is to say that there aren't individuals who are genuinely addicted, or for whom medical treatment is appropriate as a result of their drug use. Merely to point out that an awful lot of people have a direct interest in exaggerating the nature of addiction and its prevalence. And there has been an awful lot of said exaggeration.

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  • 159. At 2:40pm on 12 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    If you actualy take a look at China, you will find that they now consider it both a mental illness and a gentic problem. After reading ukintel's post i went and did a bit of reading.
    Like for like they have the same problem at the same scale we do. this would suggest that off with your head does not work.

    On another note Its taken me a week to score/buy some decent cannabis two years ago take me 5 mins and i would have a good choice. I know around about 15 people to buy off .... or did... I ended up with some rocky/soapbar. What did amaze me during this walk about of people was the amount of cocaine speed E heroin and pills I was offered instead. Looks like the war on cannabis is almost won.

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  • 160. At 5:26pm on 12 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    The Mao precedent is one that authoritarian types often come out with to argue for harshly repressive (murderous, actually) "solutions" to the issue of recreational drugs use.

    It's tricky mostly because nobody really knows what happened (unless, like one or two people posting here, you choose to pretend you believe Communist regime pronouncements for the purpose of your particular argument of the moment, when almost certainly those pretending such would never dream of doing so in any other context).

    It's likely Mao's policies did reduce drugs use dramatically, and drove what remained underground, at the cost of killing a lot of people. It almost certainly did not eliminate it, because experience shows that even in the most rigidly controlled environments - prisons - drug use can still flourish. So long as human beings control the implementation of any prohibition policy, and those who wish to use drugs are willing to buy, corruption and incompetence mean there will always be a supply. More repression simply drives up the price and therefore the incentives to supply and the amounts of money available to corrupt those charged with implementing the policy.

    It's also likely there would have been a drop in drugs use in China at that time anyway, as the country emerged from a terrible period of war and civil war into the probably welcome stability and relative order of totalitarian dictatorship.

    There's no reason to suppose drugs use ever disappeared, though, and as you point out it is certainly present in China today.

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  • 161. At 08:22am on 13 Aug 2008, PaulFlynn wrote:


    A blast of truth from a former civil servant exposes the endemic hypocrisy of Governments' drugs policy.

    Both ministers and civil servants hold drugs prohibition in contempt but meekly implement laws that have increased drugs harm including deaths.

    Julian Critchley is to be applauded for telling the truth. Minister Mo Mowlam had the same views when she was the minister responsible for drugs. Successive governments lacked the courage to face down tabloid myths.

    Julian should give evidence on the Conduct of Government probe by the Publlc Administration Committee. 'The unimportance of being right' is the civil service rule.

    Why did no civil servant or minister assert themselves when in office?


    Paul Flynn MP (Public Administration Committee)

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  • 162. At 09:51am on 13 Aug 2008, Jonathan wrote:

    In a way, I don't care what people do behind closed doors. If they can't lead their pathetic lives without artificial stimulation, that's their loss.

    However, while cannabis is illegal, I at least have the absolute right not to have to smell or breathe anyone else's smoke. If I do, I can report them to the police. All I care about is it not affecting me or anyone else, not whether someone's using drugs, but if the way of achieving that is to stop the person using the drug, so be it. If it wasn't illegal, would we then have the situation we have with tobacco, where non-smokers are still forced to breathe polluted air in many places (outdoors, drifting from neighbours' homes, etc.)?

    My other point is, it is claimed by pro-legalisationists that legalising drugs will put all the dealers out or business and so reduce crime. Do you really believe the dealers will say, "Oh, drugs are legal now, I'm going to stop being a criminal and get a proper job, earning the minimum wage for a hard day's work." No, of course they are not. They will move onto harder drugs, or if those were legal too, onto smuggling drugs to avoid duty, or else onto some other sort of crime.

    There is always going to be crime in society. Whether being tough on drugs "works" or not is irrelevant. Drug addicts should be given more support to help them kick their habits. But ultimately, we have to have laws that set a good example, and support the majority of the population who prefer to live their lives drug-free.

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  • 163. At 09:57am on 13 Aug 2008, Jonathan wrote:

    I see a number of comments are using the old "alcohol and tobacco are legal despite being quite serious drugs, therefore cannabis should be legal" argument. In an ideal world, alcohol and tobacco would be illegal to. They are only currently legal for historical reasons. If they had never been legal, they would not be legalised now. Look at the extremely difficult problem we now have in trying to eliminate tobacco use. Let's not add another drug to the list of problems by legalising any more.

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  • 164. At 12:30pm on 13 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Jonathan:

    The issue of second hand smoke is a legitimate one for collective action.

    As for the idea that after we return to our former position when possession and use of drugs was legal, there will be lots of unemployed criminals - well, that's true. What will those people do?

    The answer, I suppose, is it depends who you are talking about. The vast majority are low level dealers who make a bit of money on the side selling to their friends. Those peple won't be able to continue in the long run with drugs available over the counter in high street licensed outlets, if only because the criminal networks that presently supply them will dry up. The low level dealers are not criminals in any sense other than that they breach the prohibition laws, and they will just find other things to do with their time.

    Then there are the higher level organiesd crime types. Some of them might well turn to other kinds of crime , but it will be much less profitable and/or much more risky (or they'd be doing it already instead of dealing drugs). In the end, the result will be a dramatic drop in the wealth in the hands of organised crime. Personally, I think that would be a good thing, but perhaps your view differs?

    Laws should not be used to "set an example" or to "send a message". Doing so is an abuse of the whole concept of law, and ultimately discredits it. The law is (or should be) about protecting people's rights.

    To say, as you do, that: "Whether being tough on drugs "works" or not is irrelevant" suggests confusion. The reason such a statement would be correct if it were made concerning, say, robbery, rape or murder is that those activities are wrong regardless of the law and regardless of the opinion of the person engaging in the activity or anybody else. The same is not true of recreational drug use, per se. The latter might or might not be stupid, harmful to the user, or unproductive for society, but what it certainly does not do is breach any other person's legitimate rights.

    Unless you are claiming some kind of religious revelation as justification for declaring recreational drug use to be inherently "wrong", and also claiming the right to impose the consequences of said revelation upon everyone else, then the one and only potential argument you have for prohibition is the utilitarian one. And in that case the question of whether or not prohibition "works" is absolutely fundamental to your argument.

    It doesn't work, and the cost/benefit balance lies massively in favour of relegalisation.

    Finally you try to turn round the point that alcohol and tobacco are legal by effectively arguing that they are only legal for historical reasons. Are you unaware that the US did prohibit alcohol and paid a catastrophic price from which their society still has not recovered? The same kind of price is being paid by us now for prohibition of other drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are legal today because their use was fortunately too widespread for the prohibitionists to prohibit it in this country, particularly in the light of the disastrous US example. Heroin and opium were legal in this country, but were sufficiently little used that the prohibitionist could get away politically with their damaging programme, and whilst their prohibition has been in place we've seen massive growth in the use of these drugs, and an even greater increase in the harm done as a result of said use.

    The point has been made above that tobacco use is in decline despite it being legal. Drugs use cannot be eliminated by making it illegal, and nor will making it legal again "add another drug to the list of problems".

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  • 165. At 1:35pm on 13 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    If anyone has any doubts about the malign impact of the US on attempts to return to rational drugs policies, by the way, one useful bit of history to research concerns the largest global study on cocaine use ever undertaken - by the WHO in 1992-5.

    We can't read the report, because it was suppressed under pressure from the US, whose representative explicitly threatened to withdraw funding from WHO projects if it were published:

    "Almost as soon as the Briefing Kit started to circulate in the UN corridors, USA officials used their full weight to prevent the release of the study. "The United States government has been surprised to note that the package seemed to make a case for the positive uses of cocaine," was the response of Neil Boyer, the USA's representative to the 48th meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. He said that the WHO programme on substance abuse was "headed in the wrong direction" and "undermined the efforts of the international community to stamp out the illegal cultivation and production of coca". He denounced "evidence of WHO's support for harmreduction programmes and previous WHO association with organizations that supported the legalization of drugs." Then came a clear threat: "If WHO activities relating to drugs fail to reinforce proven drug-control approaches, funds for the relevant programs should be curtailed"."

    The Briefing Kit is quoted as having included the following:

    " The conclusions strongly conflicted with accepted paradigms, for example "that occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems ... a minority of people start using cocaine or related products, use casually for a short or long period, and suffer little or no negative consequences, even after years of use. ... Use of coca leaves appears to have no negative health effects and has positive, therapeutic, sacred and social functions for indigenous Andean populations." The largest future issue, according to the study, was whether the world "will continue to focus on supply reduction approaches such as crop destruction and substitution and law enforcement efforts in the face of mounting criticism and cynicism about the effectiveness of these approaches. ... There needs to be more assessment of the adverse effects of current policies and strategies and development of innovative approaches. … Current national and local approaches which over-emphasize punitive drug control measures may actually contribute to the development of health-related problems.""

    Is it any wonder, really, that there is such popular misunderstanding of the drugs issue (as exhibited by many contributors here), when our governments actively suppress the release of information that is politically inconvenient to them on the issue? Does anybody actually believe that this kind of activity is remotely appropriate for a supposedly democratic government? Doesn't matter what you think, really, because the US government doesn't care, and they've made sure you can't see the report to make up your own mind.

    I'll post the source link for the above quotes in the next reply, in case anyone is interested in following this up.

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  • 166. At 2:05pm on 13 Aug 2008, RandalCousins wrote:

    Can't post the links - try searching on:

    Transnational Institute WHO: Cocaine Project

    and:

    Report paints picture of global use of cocaine

    for the BMJ report on the Briefing Paper before the full report was suppressed by the US

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  • 167. At 2:23pm on 13 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    I can only speak from personal experience of myself and of people I have known associated with drugs - addicts and others.
    While I was addicted to Heroin for many years and also Methadone - which, incidentally, is far more addictive and dangerous to get off than Heroin - I knew many people who used cocaine and some dopeheads who just smoked themselves stupid on a regular basis (I found the dopeheads too boring so I didnt associate with them). Cocaine is not addictive, it has little effect and the high is temporary and needs to be re charged regularly. It always amused me how people who uised to sniff cocaine often bought speed thinking it was cocaine - I think that sais a lot about people who use the drug and the effect of the drug - speed is actually more effective than cocaine. Heroin, on the other hand, is not immediately addictive - it takes money and a lot of work to become addicted to Heroin - another misrepresentation from the media is that dealers want to sell to school kids - why would they want to do that as kids dont have any money and are monitored so dealing to them would be not only dangerous but stupid.
    I digress...
    Heroin and cocaine should be legalised so that methadone would no longer be necessary to "treat" addicts. I know all about Methadone and it is in a different class to Heroin to get off - its practically unheard of for someone to cold turkey methadone because the withdrawals last months and months - in my case 18 months. Junkies will score, cocaine users will buy their drugs and so on...it really doesnt make any difference to the overall useage of these drugs in society whether they are legalised or not - the difference would be that junkies could regulate their lives, feel better about themselves not having to humiliate themselves in order to get money to score and maybe could think about their lives and the future without drugs, in short they could rejoin society and not worry about scoring all the time - maybe hold down relationships or get a job. I go to a Hep C clinic for treatment and the specialist told me of one of her patients ..a man around 40 who had not had a girl since he was early teens - he was in a wheel chair due to injecting into the veins in his legs and he had a palour of yellowish greyness - teeth rotten, ofcourse - with no chance of a life. Why, because he had to buy drugs off the streets and use any time and money he had in the pursuit of drugs.
    I agree with Julian Critchley - drugs like Heroin and cocaine should be legalised and given to addicts.

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  • 168. At 3:24pm on 13 Aug 2008, thefoolangel wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 169. At 4:44pm on 13 Aug 2008, thefoolangel wrote:

    Hey RandalCousins, some very well made points here.. If you would possibly consider it, there is a documentary project going on that would like to talk about getting your views on camera. To follow up, do a search on fool angel and take it from there.

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  • 170. At 9:49pm on 13 Aug 2008, Jonathan wrote:

    Randal, thanks for your comments, in particular for agreeing with what for me is the most important point: drug use can't be allowed to affect people who want nothing to do with it, as is the case with second-hand smoke. There may be other more indirect impacts on others to consider too, such as the effect on crime, costs to the NHS, risk of people drug-driving, loss of working hours through absenteeism, etc.

    The US prohibition illustrates the reason why alcohol is legal. It's been legal for such a long time, and its use is so widespread, that it is now impossible to ban it, as the US discovered. Drugs have been fairy successfully banned for much longer. Believe it or not, there are still a large number of people who won't touch illegal drugs because they are illegal. It would be a travesty if more people were hooked on drugs because they were legalised.

    Big time dealers will remain criminals, small time dealers may go straight. But what about all the users who can't hold down a job because of their addiction, and who have to steal to buy the drugs? If we are taking about legalisation for sale, they'll still have to buy them (making it possible for doctors to prescribe heroin to addicts as part of their treatment is a different matter). So they will still need to find the money, and no job means crime.

    I have to say that I don't feel it's these addicts - the real victims - who drive calls for legalisation. It's the middle classes who like to dabble in drugs at the weekend, and see themselves as above the law, or above the potential for any problems with drugs, which they think are reserved for poor, unemployed people. These are the people who really get up my nose (not through snorting, may I add) - they need to learn to enjoy life without the need for drugs.

    Finally, I think there are too many quangos, advisers, tsars, so called "experts". It's bad enough having politicians, we can do without that lot. Julian Critchley says legalise drugs. A think tank says everyone from the north should abandon cities like Liverpool and move to the south east. Both are frankly ridiculous ideas from people who need to find something more worthwhile to do for a living.

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  • 171. At 10:45pm on 13 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    The point to the drug user stealing is that its controled by crime thus the product is weak, imagine if you went into a pub and bought a round of drinks to find that they were mostly water. you go in a cafe and order fresh ground coffee and get served a cup of cheap instant coffee.
    With drugs you get no choice on quality. you get no rights. No complaints.
    If pure drugs were available at correct dose and the same price then there would be very little need for the addict to steal.
    We continue to talk of drug users like another race or illness that can be eradicated. here is another simple truth that cant be changed to prevent human used of drugs you would have to get stop all public use of drugs. For while any company produces the parts to make a drug for any purpose people will make take and prescibe them. As our children learn more in school's and uni's drugs will change and expand.this will in turn produce more harmfull drugs that will prove to be more addictive and harder to beat for the user.
    With our current problem and our current understanding of drugs and the way they are made were will the illegal drug industry be in 20 years. GM addicts ? We say constantley that we break through new social boundries were improving life for all but allas for a huge populas of the planet that use drugs were no better than the bogeyman to the rest.

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  • 172. At 10:13am on 14 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    thefoolangel - rarely has a pseudonym been so apt.
    I agree with the post stating that the middle class weekend "free" type dope smokers and cocaine sniffers see themselves as acceptable in drug circles - they have money and choice where addicts have neither. I also see the point in so called "think tank" "performers" like J Critchley and others have no real time experience with addictive drugs - to the addict that means they know nothing, also ex Senior Police officers are hardly likely to engender much support and openess from street level junkies. The whole argument is being conducted by mainly people who have no real experience of that which they purport to be experts on - legalising Heroin and cocaine would be a disaster for dealers and middle class Islington dinner party set as well as 99% of City brokers - because it would no longer be cool and "free" to use, it woyuld be a little like going to boots and buying a bottle of G's Linctus (contains opium squill, a stable to fight withdrawals) and passing it round in toilets in city bars...hey man, fancy some G's...wow - see you downstairs in 2 minutes...cool

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  • 173. At 1:20pm on 14 Aug 2008, kaptinemo wrote:

    As an observer of this thread hailing from the home of the term "War on Drugs", I humbly offer this suggestion: investigate the origins of the policy, and then consider if you wish to continue supporting it. Leaving aside the mechanics of drug addiction and arguments concerning libertarian vs. statist aspects, there is another dimension to this issue that all too often does not rise to the prominence it should have.

    I'm sure many here have heard of the phrase, 'the fruit of the poison tree'. If modern-day drugs policy is viewed in light of its' racist origins, then perhaps those who are keen to support it might have a second thought as to taking any more bites of this particular 'fruit'.

    The origins of drug policy on my side of The Pond were inextricably entwined with the racial prejudices of the day...and one may argue, given that the vast majority of those incarcerated within the American penal system today are minorities, that those attitudes were institutionalized into policy, despite our Civil Rights era.

    As an example of such prejudices, Blacks were thought to become cocaine-crazed rapists targeting White women, and were supposedly invulnerable to the .32 caliber ammunition supplied to police forces. Mexicans were thought to become insane, machete-wielding dervishes after one puff of 'marijuana' (which is itself a slang term used by the aforementioned William Randolph Hearst to castigate an ethnic group he disliked). These myths formed the basis for the US's drug laws, and not scientific inquiry and rational debate....which was and is evidently as lacking on the subject there as it has been here, as it seems that your drug laws have largely been imported from the incarceration-happy 'Land of the Free'.

    Were this issue to be the recipient of actual, rigorous national public debate, and the origins of the laws exposed to public scrutiny, I strongly doubt those who presently support them would wish to have their good names associated with it. Not only are they flawed scientifically, they bear the stench of something best left untouched.

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  • 174. At 1:55pm on 14 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    kaptinemo - do you really think junkies could care less about the origin of drug policy or about the "racist" undertones. I would profer that junkies only really care about junk -
    the only person who really understood american drug policy and the attitude of addiction was William Burroughs - Junkie, Naked Lunch - I suggest to find out about what it is to be addicted try actually studying or listening to people who know instead of whining on about etherial connotations about the history of language associated with drugs.

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  • 175. At 2:23pm on 14 Aug 2008, kaptinemo wrote:

    Mr. Bains, if the foundation of a building is flawed, then can anything built upon ever it be 'right'? And failing to take into account the fact that racist elements of the drug laws of my country were evidently incorporated into your country's drug policy (whether unthinkingly or not remains to be decided by UK historians), can you ever expect to understand the totality of the failure it is without understanding why it is that way?

    Hardly whining, sir. Merely insisting upon rational discussion...which, all too often, is lacking in this issue. What takes its' place is usually comprised of dis- and mis-information, emotional appeals...and unwarranted invective.

    Oh, and by the way, I am well-acquainted with the late Mr. Burrough's published trials and tribulations regarding his own run-ins with American drug policy. But thank you mentioning it, as there may be those here who are too young to ever have heard of him and his works.

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  • 176. At 2:44pm on 14 Aug 2008, kaptinemo wrote:

    And while we're on the subject of language, have you ever considered why you, yourself, use the term 'junkies' to describe drug addicts?

    Anyone familiar with the US recent political climate is aware of the importance of 'framing'...which, quite frankly, has to do with conveying propaganda.

    In the case of drug addicts, the pejorative 'junkie' is especially handy in essentially 'framing' one's opponents, by evoking an emotionally negative connotation and thus making it 'okay' to attack them publicly as a class.

    Once again, this goes back to prejudices being encoded into law. And to use such pejoratives unthinkingly makes one a tool of those seeking to make those attacks.

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  • 177. At 9:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, g0cra1g wrote:

    I heard Julian Critchley on the radio the other day and boy that guy makes sense, he should run for government not work for the idiots.

    I agree 100% with him and ask my family I have been saying exactly this for 10 years. I dont do drugs (I have in the past) I do do alchol and I have seen people die from excess alchol consumption over years. I have known people that take drugs for 20 years + and they are still going strong.

    The government needs to make its mind up. Criminalise Drugs (everything heroin, cannabis, cigarettes and alchol) or DeCriminalise Drugs (likewise, everything) they cant have it both ways.

    I was particularly interested in this report and surrounding blog as on the 28th July I had written a very similar article on my own "Shout About" blog on Blogger. Only I went a step even further.

    Yes legalise, yes supply through chemists or similar, yes undercut criminals, yes this will greatly reduce crime and put serious crime out of business. But where should we get our supplies.

    So how about Afghanistan. Our troops are currently out there fighting a war to try oust the Taliban, when actually if we legalised drugs here and took Afghanistan as our supplier that would provide them with a guaranteed revenue for years to come, would allow them to rebuild their society as well and would also oust the Taliban as they would no longer have a hold over its people.

    I am not saying this would fully solve the Afghan problem, but it would certainly help, and legalising drugs here is the only way to go so lets get on with it !!!

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  • 178. At 11:21pm on 14 Aug 2008, thepoisongarden wrote:

    'Believe it or not, there are still a large number of people who won't touch illegal drugs because they are illegal.'

    Actually, Jonathan, I don't believe it. If you look at the Netherlands, you will find the prevelance of cannabis is around the middle of the European league table in spite of its ready availability and relaxed law enforcement.

    Similarly, compare those parts of Australian where some tolerance is granted to those where the law is strictly enforced and you will find little difference between rates of cannabis use.

    Also, look at the production estimates for opium in Afghanistan and you will see that, for three years, at least, the amount of heroin available has greatly exceeded the amount consumed suggesting that there may be a finite demand for heroin.

    Since hearing Julian Critchley on 'Today' I've read all of the comments here.

    There are two points which I don't think have been fully developed though the first has been touched on.

    If cannabis is harmful, and just for this point let's say it can be, it is wholly irresponsible of government to leave its manfacture and distribution in the hands of criminal gangs whose only motive is profit thus exposing the citizens government is supposed to protect to all manner of casual contamination or deliberate aldulteration.

    And, there is a broader point. The drug laws do not work, no-one can argue that they do. Having laws which are unenforced spreads contempt for the rule of law which penetrates all areas of society.

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  • 179. At 1:51pm on 15 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    kaptinemo - I suppose what Im trying to say here is that to the people who use drugs no amount of logic or rational "thinking" by the likes of ex chief constables or so called "think tank" bods like J Critchley will make a blind bit of difference to them - I know because for 20 years I was one of them. Yes ofcourse drugs should be made freely available to junkies (I dont regard that word as pejorative but merely descriptive of a group of people) so that junkies could take control of their lives if they chose to and make choices and decisions for themselves instead of trying to con doctors, chemists and drug dealers on a full time basis. Cannabis is a drug I hate - OK thats my opinion, it is a drug that can cause pschycosis and renders long term and habitual users helpless to cope with anything other than basic employment.
    Cannabis isnt the problem here - heroin is. Cocaine isnt the problem either because it is a drug used for social and recreational reasons ("when you cant get any more you go home to sleep" to paraphrase Bill Bains in Junkie. Heroin is different because you cant live without it - "The Algebra of need" Bill Burroughs - for those here who havnt experienced heroin is it like taking all lifes problems away and forgetting about them and at the same time floating on a sun bed in "The Graduate". Unlike that film though it doesnt help your sex drive - you have no need for sex of other people "I could stare at my shoes for hours on junk, people would come around to see me, but there wasnt anyone to see" - quote Junkie

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  • 180. At 10:17pm on 15 Aug 2008, Brinnananda wrote:

    Wonderful thread and discussion. I would just like to add my 2 cents.

    "What if cannabis was actually good for you?" Ridiculous, you say? Well, I would just like to cite a couple of facts:

    In spite of its rhetoric to the contrary, the US Govt. filed for, and was awarded a patent (#6,630,507) on the neuroprotective qualities of cannabinoids. This patent, awarded not by, but TO the US Dept. of Health and Human Services states unequivocally that cannabinoids are useful in the PREVENTION and TREATMENT of a wide variety of diseases including stroke, trauma, auto-immune disorders, HIV dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

    Therefore, I submit, that people who ingest cannabis are self-medicating (and yes, stupid people remain stupid, immoral people remain immoral, good people remain good -- pot, in an of itself, does not affect character, though it may tend to "soften boundaries" so it should probably be used with discrimination, perhaps after the age of 21, when boundaries have already been shaped, unless medical needs dictate otherwise). However, I digress.

    Secondly, a 1980's study by Dr. Melanie Dreher of pregnant women in Jamaica who used cannabis regularly, and subsequently gave birth, showed that 30 day old babies born to cannabis users scored higher in ability and health evaluations, than the progeny of non-smokers. A five year follow-up showed both groups to be equally well-adjusted. Since NIDA was funding the study, and it showed no harm, they did not fund a 10 year follow-up, but that is par for the course.

    Thirdly, a very large NIDA study by Donald Tashkin, MD found that (ah shucks) even long term chronic smokers of cannabis had NO elevated risk of lung cancer (take that Peter Sym).

    We won't even go into the many other studies which showed that cannabinoids actually cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis), while leaving healthy cells alone, since logic seems to carry little or no weight with prohibitionists.

    My point being, that I believe folks actually benefit from cannabis use. And I must say, one of the funniest comments I ever read about why it really remains illegal is because of the high BS-Bks content.

    (oh yeah, that's BS blockers. I'd spell it out, but I don't want my comment axed, thank you very much).

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  • 181. At 11:46pm on 15 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    The human body is run on exo/endocannaboids they control almost every aspect of thought of your immune system the slow down calcification of cells in the body. most people over the age of 35 should take a cannaboid supplement to protect there joints and fortify the immune system, but most importantly of all slow down the ageing your brain cells.
    If cannabis had no benifit to the human body why did the usa pay GW pharm $235 million to run studys on its use as a pain killer as an anti toxin in chemical warfare stops 80% of damage in chemical attacks to the brain.
    The list is long and getting longer of its use and benifit.

    The stoner affect um what was that. Just useless information thats not needed by the brain. cannaboids build memory links in the brain if the link is made active so many times it takes a state of active and the canaboids hold it there untill its decided on by the rest of your thought and memory patterns if its needed. they also link to shock this is were the problem of mental health comes in when taking cannabis.
    if you put your hand in a fire you remember it first time around that its hot and it hurts to do this the brain gets flooded with cannaboids to burn in the memory. Now take this and apply it to a young person whos brain is already brimming with cannaboids as they learn through school, they take up smoking it so there is more chance that links in thought will be created on a permanant basis. Now apply the law and public opinion and its message of terror upon you for being different. now what are the chances of the brain making the wrong connections during this time through bad experiance?

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  • 182. At 4:00pm on 18 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    the same old justifications for cannabis again and again - users of cannabis dont see themselves as "druggies" but more as libertarian types following a lifestyle choice following on from students union days. Cannabis renders people incoherently boring, dull and sexless. I even knew some girls who would smoke cannabis while trying to go to the toilet - men too (what a class drug it is (sic). Forgetting about the fact that inhaling thick, stinking toxic smoke into your lungs is disgusting - yet some here seem to suggest it does no damage rather it is good for unborn babies (I think that person has been smoking too much and lost touch with truth and fiction). Basically Cannabis is a pointless, filthy drug used by the lower echelons of drug users only 1 step above goof balls (barbiturates) where people eat constantly, fall asleep without notice, dribble, slur their speech (if you can call it that) and smell of stale smoke.
    Cannabis is a drug of choice for people who havnt got a rebellious bone in their bodies but want to somehow feel part of the drug scene - without actually experiencing anything they wouldnt normally see outside a students union bar - Heroin, on the other hand, is what this thread should be discussing not pointless middle class obsessions like dope smokers...

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  • 183. At 9:33pm on 18 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 184. At 11:46am on 19 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    LoL Bill your funny, When was the last time you did anything about drugs and help to clear up the problem?
    Anyway im off seems its all just talk here, enjoy :)

    on a final note it could very well be your children there are no class devides in this one.

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  • 185. At 12:43pm on 19 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    herbmanbob - I get an incling from your name that you are a dope smoker. By the way since when did dopers do anything to help anyone except contribute to Greenpeace, wear palestinian scarves and hate america. All student activities - dope is not a serious drug and shouldnt be mixed up with Heroin (cocaine is an extravagance with no real effect except to bond people in toilets around central london).
    yeh its just talk but what else do dope smokers do all day anyway - talk and smoke.

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  • 186. At 3:38pm on 19 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    nope we work hard to make changes to the communitys we live in ousing heroin at every turn. We just finished a community garden this week.
    We work with the police on a almost daily basis, yes im a drug user as they are called.

    you can find me on webchats with the home sec.

    Last year i tried to open a new community centre. I sit on bodys that give out funding to help youth get away from drugs.

    you have just adopted a sterio type if i was black i could call a race card lol

    as i said all talk but thats all it will ever be in this world. moda 71 is support for chemical slavery in all its forms.

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  • 187. At 09:24am on 20 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    herbmanbob - fair comment, due to my own experiences in Holland - mainly - I adopted a stereotype I associate with dope smokers. Just because those I knew and know are as I described that doesnt mean that others are. sorry

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  • 188. At 09:26am on 20 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    herbmanbob - fair comment. I adopted a stereotypical view of dope smokers based on those I knew in Holland and London over the years. Just because those people by and large are as I described doesnt mean that others are also. I suppose Im a product of my past life as many of us are...sorry

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  • 189. At 11:52am on 20 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    No worries :)now we have hit the bottom of media and social steriotype we can work up to the real cause of the problems :)

    I suppose what does not help is im a cannabis user (not always smoked) so i see the world as it is not as its described to the public.

    You can have a heroin dealer bust but if they have a habit then nothing happens, they are arrested checked to see if they are on one of the joke treatment programs and then relesed to carry on! so already we have a 2 tier justice system. no possable help for communitys that have to live with the drug user. but heroin aint realy the problem its just part of the overall plan, cocaine is the main issue not the london bar lot but the crack/freebase cocaine that is now flooding our streets. I designed a poster to highlight crack runs but no one wanted it, was ment to be like a bus stop sign.

    The war against drugs is like one of those mallet games at a fair ground knock one down 2 more pop up knock them down and 4 more pop up.

    the goverment atm bangs on about thc delta 9 while in the background the class A producers are looking to turn delta 9 to delta 6 this uses the opium receptor in the body and not its natural cannaboid receptor.

    But untill people in power take true action and not pretend its a little problem that can be stamped out we will continue to air our opinions to the wind with little hope of them being heard

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  • 190. At 5:04pm on 20 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    herbmanbob - I agree with your post, for what its worth (as I believe I mentioned before) I was a heroin addict but my addiction was much more than just heroin. I injected heroin and cocaine - possible the most entirely addictive drug use imaginable. Fortuneately I had friends and saw the damage I was doing so I got out - at least from snowballs/speedballs.
    I understand that crack is totally different from the dinner party, investment "banker" set - the effect of crack is similar to speedballs except it doesnt last as long and it makes you more manic and paranoid.
    The purpose of this footnote to the discussion - whether anyone reads it or not - is maybe to pass on my advise not to use Methadone under any circumstances - I was on methadone for 15 years and it nearly killed me going through rapid detox to get off it. Methadone is the basis of the governments attempt to "help" addicts when in reality there is no easy answer. The answer - as always in life - lies with the user deciding to move on. Methadone will only lull the addict into a comfortable middle existance - all the time his/her self esteem being eroded by inevitable pressure from doctors to stop, chemists finding any reason not to fill the script and the feeling of failure endemic in the addicts life anyway. I do think that addicts should be given heroin if they need it as well as any other help available to give them time to see a better side of the world. Wont always work but us humans need attention and need someone to care about us - without that the cucle of drug addiction will go on unabaited.

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  • 191. At 8:34pm on 20 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    The main issues are that we look at the problem from the outset as bad subject, most have a pre concived idea about the industry and that is what it is wrong lets give it a name first.

    we will call it SKOD LTD (some kind of drug)

    we know we have a market and always have had the consumer market, but to supply this market we need a few farmers to grow our crops, but we have to compete with the health services for the same products ie opium cocaine and cannabis.
    We take a look around the world to see who can supply us with our product. now as goverments want this product they keep production illegal without licence. But they choose third world countrys to farm these goods. Due to political stablility of these countrys production soon falls into SKOD's hands and the farmers become the first link in this new slave trade many using what they produce in order to cope with the pressures they are forced into.

    'Just in our opening we have already caused harm imagine if farmers in europe were treated this way forced to grow a crop and then get paid less than 1% of the crops worth the world would do its nut and scream fair trade:|'

    Now a bit of marketing for SKOD is needed we can leave that to word of mouth and the goverment education programs, mixed with tv, media and music. Already our product is doing well as we can just throw it in a bag and sell it on when supplys run a bit short we can just thin it out a bit so even if the customer has a bad week SKOD will still do well. Now our only problem is a small group of people with warrent cards but lets face it the public love our products and wont talk to them so our chances of market collapse are tiny if not irrelivent. We then move into tele marketing turning every customer into a point of contact and every street corner into a walk through shoping experiance.

    What do you do with SKOD ?

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  • 192. At 09:38am on 21 Aug 2008, billbains wrote:

    I take your point but I cannot group drugs together into SKOD. Drugs have very different social and chemical effects on the user - socially "acceptable" drugs such as cannabis generally are consumed by people who are not interested in opiates and only dabble with cocaine. Heroin takes the user away from normality and into a drug market place where anything goes to feed their habit - they have no cnoice.
    I really dont think the drug problem has anything to do with economics, farmers, third world or governments - the problem for the heroin addict is their need for heroin - they cannot just wait untill they get paid or get benefits again to score - they are in Total Need (W Burroughs) and as such are not capable of making rational decisions.
    My point - take away the Total Need and they will cease to be a drain on society, bother no-one and maybe have a relationship, get a job and contribute to life. Heroin,cocaine can be produced under laboratory conditions at relatively low cost on an industrial scale and then addicts could get their dose and carry on with life. There are many examples of people who lived in more enlightened times being addicted to laudenum, opium and morphine which was readily available at your local chemist shop who just lived a productive life. Those addicts who cant stop would perhaps be able to do the same - obviously not in all cases. If you take the stigma away from all drug use the desire by many to try them in the first place will be cut dramatically - it is the perception of "coolness" that first starts people on that "long slippery road, take a tip from uncle Bill and see clearly what on the end of your fork" (cant remember the exact wording from Naked Lunch, paraphrase only)

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  • 193. At 12:06pm on 21 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    I know a few people who use heroin have good jobs etc and have done for the last 15-20 years, but as they say they can afford it long before its cut down by your average dealer.

    this is why i created SKOD LTD just a compnany with no stigma! to examine the whole chain not just the end user problems because the end user is the outcome of the company, the end user like my brother usualy dies of an overdose of heroin either through choice or bad dealing. This is one of the reasons why ive stood up in my community most people see addicts as a problem I dont i feel very sorry for them and the lack of help that is offered in this world with all our human rights you can be freely anything you want and be protected by law unless you use drugs.

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  • 194. At 4:25pm on 21 Aug 2008, blogname wrote:

    Noticed this article and thought you might like to see how much the UK government COULD be earning from taxing drugs
    http://www.idmu.co.uk/taxukdm.htm

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  • 195. At 11:48pm on 21 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Cheers that from the bits I flicked through looks realy well informed.
    Will have a good read of it later.

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  • 196. At 12:25pm on 23 Aug 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    the affor mentioned poster / street sign...

    http://b0bsd3n.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!B0414DA877BBB909!199/

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  • 197. At 4:12pm on 11 Sep 2008, imwriteagain wrote:

    It should not surprise anyone that governments actively suppress discussion and information about drugs and their role in society. Given the vast amounts of money involved and the fact that the trade is run by criminals, the scope for corruption is limitless. If you view the illegal drug trade as an industry, do you seriously think that those reaping the rewards from this trade are going to allow anyone to threaten their business? They want to keep the status quo and will do anything necessary to enforce it. That includes infiltrating governments around the world to maintain the anti-drug rhetoric. It helps their cause that there are a few who seriously think recreational drug taking is 'evil' or 'immoral' ie the usual suspects (do gooders, religious groups, tee-totalers etc) but without the criminal element, these people would normally be out-flanked by research, evidence, common sense etc - much as RandalCousins demonstrates here. You should also bear in mind that the criminals learnt a lot from the collapse of their earlier business model - prohibition. They won't let that happen again. Hence the ever increasing number of anti-drug laws, treaties, international bodies etc etc (They even have anti-drug clauses in the now defunct EU constitution).

    So in a nutshell, forget things like evidence, science, reality, truth and common sense. The illegal drug trade is a business run by criminals for criminals, and that includes the criminals in governments around the world.

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  • 198. At 12:45pm on 21 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Wow Inflation sucks .... Inflation on drugs ??? how can this be there illegal....
    Well its happened.. Cannabis still sells for £20 a bag but its lost 0.7gram of the weight. Taking that a bag of the green stuff weighs in at 3.5 gram thats some price rise with out changing the pound sign.

    So i guess it realy is an industry and not a fad that can be controled by laws.

    This puts personal inflation @ 9% were as it was 6% on the bbc inflation map.

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  • 199. At 08:34am on 26 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 200. At 4:41pm on 02 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jan/06/science.religion

    this comment will prob break the house rules but hay ho.

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  • 201. At 6:58pm on 02 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    from the link from the guardian.
    Jesus 'healed using cannabis'Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles The Guardian, Monday January 6 2003 Article historyJesus w as almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according to a study of scriptural texts published this month. The study suggests that Jesus and his disciples used the drug to carry out miraculous healings.
    The anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which has since been identified as cannabis extract, according to an article by Chris Bennett in the drugs magazine, High Times, entitled Was Jesus a Stoner? The incense used by Jesus in ceremonies also contained a cannabis extract, suggests Mr Bennett, who quotes scholars to back his claims.

    "There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion," Carl Ruck, professor of classical mythology at Boston University said.

    Referring to the existence of cannabis in anointing oils used in ceremonies, he added: "Obviously the easy availability and long-established tradition of cannabis in early Judaism _ would inevitably have included it in the [Christian] mixtures."

    Mr Bennett suggests those anointed with the oils used by Jesus were "literally drenched in this potent mixture _ Although most modern people choose to smoke or eat pot, when its active ingredients are transferred into an oil-based carrier, it can also be absorbed through the skin".

    Quoting the New Testament, Mr Bennett argues that Jesus anointed his disciples with the oil and encouraged them to do the same with other followers. This could have been responsible for healing eye and skin diseases referred to in the Gospels.

    "If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient anointing oil _ and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ," Mr Bennett concludes.

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  • 202. At 3:14pm on 09 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    On 2nd & 3rd Oct, 2008 the Beckley Foundation launched its Global Cannabis Commission Report, a comprehensive overview of the latest evidence on cannabis and its regulation, at a seminar at the House of Lords.

    www.beckleyfoundation.org/

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  • 203. At 9:17pm on 10 Oct 2008, governments lie wrote:

    All the time there are people who cannot face life, or enjoy themselves without some sort of prop the drug culture will survive. If there was no demand there would be no drug problem. There will always be some lowlife who will support any demand, whether it be for weapons, child pornography or drugs.

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  • 204. At 01:03am on 11 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Is the stoner any different to the person who works thier body in a gym to an exhausted state to recive the reward of endorphin's.?

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  • 205. At 10:16am on 16 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Monday 13 Oct 2008

    People caught with cannabis twice could face an £80 on-the-spot fine, under government plans.

    Ministers will consult on the proposals which would also see people arrested if caught in possession for a third time.

    Cannabis is to be made a Class B drug again from January 2009, five years after it was downgraded to Class C.

    The independent drugs advisory council recommended it should remain Class C. Ministers say they must take account of potential long-term effects on users.

    Announcing the Penalty Notice for Disorder proposals, which would apply to England and Wales, the government said cannabis posed a "real risk" to users' health and stronger strains were now dominating the market which could increase mental health problems.

    Dangers posed

    It said the new penalties were not aimed a "criminalising people unnecessarily" but would give police and the courts "a range of sanctions at their disposal so that the punishment is proportionate to the offence".

    Tim Hollins, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said police would take a harder line when "cannabis use is repeated or there are aggravating circumstances locally".

    Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "While cannabis has always been illegal, reclassifying it to a Class B drug reinforces our message to everyone that it is harmful and should not be taken."

    "This is the next step towards toughening up our enforcement response to ensure that repeat offenders know that we are serious about tackling the danger that the drug poses to individuals."

    The government says it is responding to calls from the Acpo for a stronger approach to possession of cannabis.

    Possession of a class C drug is treated largely as a non-arrestable offence. Making it a Class B drug means the maximum prison sentence for possession rises from two years to five years.

    It is five years since the decision was taken to downgrade cannabis, with the aim at the time of freeing up police resources to concentrate on tackling hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

    'Weak' link

    Ministers say that since then concern has risen about the prevalence of stronger "skunk" varieties of cannabis which the government says now account for 80% of the cannabis seized on the streets.

    The government accepted 20 of 21 recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which had said cannabis should remain a class C drug, arguing the risks were not as serious as those of class B substances, such as amphetamines and barbiturates.

    It described cannabis as a "significant public health issue" and said the evidence suggested a "probable, but weak, causal link between psychotic illness, including schizophrenia, and cannabis use". But it said, in the population as a whole, it played only a "modest role" in the development of these conditions.

    In its response to the ACMD report, the government said: "We do not reject the advisory council's advice on this specific issue lightly but it is the role of government to make decisions informed by all relevant factors and to take account of potential long-term impacts where the evidence is not conclusive at this time."

    Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has suggested that, if the government is to disregard the advice of the independent council, it should disband it in favour of an advisory council of "tabloid newspaper editors". The Conservatives have said the reclassification shows it was a mistake to downgrade it in the first place.

    The ACMD is carrying out a review of the Class A drug ecstasy and has already met to consider whether it should be downgraded to Class B.

    My view....

    This will be deverstaing to both the tax payer and the younger generations of today. Still Mrs I need a stab vest Smith wont be around for many more years. The actual affect of this policy will give police the power to CULL the youth on estates around the country.
    I know you smoke the herb boy I can send you to prison anytime i like as I have to power to now stop you search you and criminalise you every day untill I get the figure I want.
    Waits for the new Prison building Contracts to be given out.

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  • 206. At 11:11am on 19 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Well ive spent the week taking calls and talking to neighbours.
    We have a block of flats in the road they have been empty for a while, now we have a new tenent, hes in the last year of his teans he works and Ive just been told to do somthing about him as hes dealing a bit of weed, this on the whole I/we dont mind but.... Its kids hes supposed to be dealing to.

    As a cannabis user myself and a community leader I have to make a simple choice, its easy I have to ruin this young mans life because he has very young people attend his flat and this is why I / we must step in. It will be years before the police do something about it, why because he is not known to them, they only want to hear names they know.

    This is one example of why drugs prohabition does not work, our communities are becoming unsafe due to MRS Smith and all others like that who through lies claim to care, she does not care. They do not care Cannabis the NEW LABOUR CASH COW.

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  • 207. At 12:50pm on 19 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Well another though for the day on this subject.
    If this is a war and the enemy is drugs and the part of sociaty that uses them, the goverment control the army that enforces this war and fights for freedom.

    Should the goverment be held soley responsable for the innocents that die in thier war. Young people like Rhys Jones who die as a direct result of prohabition. If this is Labours way to make our communitiues safer then i realy do fear for the future generations of youth in this country. As i said im my last post this seed has just been planted again and each and every day more seeds that may grow in to this mess are planted. Mrs Smith and the UN help to cultivate these seeds they love them help them grow and then tell the voter that they are out of control like wild dogs running our streets killing our children. But who holds the leash for these wild dogs the community or the goverments.? Well its not the goverment that holds it they ignore it let it run wild let anyone own this rabid dog. So it passes to the communitys to hold the leash and who in the community will hold this leash of power and money??

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  • 208. At 05:09am on 21 Oct 2008, junglegeorge45 wrote:

    As has already been noted, prohibition has a dismal record of failure with every substance and in every venue it has been introduced, so why would any government expect different results for drugs?

    Fundamentally, the idea of a "war on..." is absurd. Who is the enemy? Casual users, dealers, importers or, as often seems the case, everyone.

    It seems, particularly in the US and UK, the term "war on..." is merely an excuse for governments to co-opt millions of dollars/pounds for their pet projects, when that money, which lest we forget belongs to you and I, the tax/rate payer, SHOULD be used to improve education.

    After all, with better educated children, drug use would cease to be an interesting alternative.

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