Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html en-gb 30 Mon 29 Dec 2014 02:35:19 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html blogwarts http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=99#comment130 Legalisation will have some benefits. At the moment the government is crying over lost tax revenue from the slump in tobbacco sales. So imagine this...a government owned shop for all your herbal delights, all items taxed at the usual rate (same as petrol, cigarettes and alcohol, and voila! No more NHS funding issues. What used to cost you £20 on the street is now going to cost £96.50 We'd be debt free in six months! Mon 20 Jul 2009 04:23:06 GMT+1 MrTonyMurch http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=98#comment129 I quite like smoking [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] with my mates on the weekend. I don't do it during the week and I'm not hurting anyone else.The health effects are no different to smoking cigarettes, unless of course I was completely addicted to smoking them.. which I'm not.The same could also be said about alcohol.. the current drug laws frustrate the hell out of me.Regards,Tony Thu 16 Jul 2009 15:55:24 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=97#comment128 PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK ! Thu 16 Jul 2009 09:07:56 GMT+1 iNotHere http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=96#comment127 If we say it loud and long enough do you think anyone would take notice?PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK Wed 15 Jul 2009 20:11:14 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=96#comment126 126. At 3:38pm on 15 Jul 2009, iNotHere wrote:"...PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK..."I like it, we've got ourselves a slogan, PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORKWhen's the rally? PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK Wed 15 Jul 2009 15:19:22 GMT+1 iNotHere http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=95#comment125 #125Very tongue in cheek but very true.PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK Wed 15 Jul 2009 14:38:02 GMT+1 omegaDallion http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=94#comment124 Nanny State - please look after me and punish me if I misbehave by taking some drug that you class as illegal. I know that all the legal drugs are legal because they cause no harm. No-one ever heard of alcohol or tobacco causing problems and you quite rightly allow these. I must trust you to know what's best for me. Don't waste time pursuing the criminals that manufactor and supply - it will only make the statistics look bad. Punish me instead. I'm a nice easy target. Wed 15 Jul 2009 11:39:56 GMT+1 killedbymonkeys http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=93#comment123 Sorry, but I am an adult. Are my chances of dying more if I snort cocaine or clime Mount Everest? More if I puff dope or walk backwards to the North Pole? More if I down a bottle of whiskey or stupidly invade Afghanistan? More if I have an 'e' or run the London Marathon?What's it got to do with you? and who and what are you? the British Taliban! Wed 15 Jul 2009 00:23:47 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=93#comment122 122. At 1:42pm on 13 Jul 2009, Chris_X wrote:among many other things "...Illegal means no regulation, legal means we have a way to regulate and control distribution and protect the vulnerable..."Chris, an excellent summing up of the argument for regulation of this industry as demonstrated by many posters here. We'll likely need to be shouting this until we're blue in the face, but we'll keep on shouting. PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK Tue 14 Jul 2009 11:08:18 GMT+1 Chris_X http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=92#comment121 #121 is correct in saying that the choice is between allowing society to be controlled by criminal gangs, or by the people of the country. The illegal drugs industry in the UK is estimated to be worth between £4 billion and £6.6 billion per year (Home Office figures for 2003/2004). At the moment, all of this revenue flows into the pockets of criminals, who, in order to sustain and grow their enterprises, often arm themselves with guns and utilise violence. In the context of competing criminal enterprises, who can not rely on the state for protection, violence is a predictable and rational means of maintaining order and control over highly profitable distribution channels. The comparison with the rise of the gangsters and mob violence following Prohibition in the 1920s United States is obvious. Eventually the Prohibition era came to an end, brewing and distribution of alcohol was licensed and legalised, and the Al Capone style gangsters and their violence-fuelled alcohol distribution networks faded away.The lesson from history could not be more obvious: illegal means the market is controlled by gun-toting thugs, legal means the market is regulated by the democratically elected government of the people. The former leads to an increase in violence, and the latter to a decrease. Illegal means no regulation, legal means we have a way to regulate and control distribution and protect the vulnerable. Mon 13 Jul 2009 12:42:36 GMT+1 iNotHere http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=91#comment120 First off, may I say this has been a very intelligent and informative read, nice one. It's not often a blog can keep my attention for so long. We need as a nation to debate this subject in depth but from my observations everytime the subject is brought up there is the first mad rush of comments...a bit of arguing ensues - the prohibitionists rant and rave emotionally about mind altered slackers and wasters and the pro legal group try to calm everything down, try to bring the level of the debate up by writing calmly and rationally about the facts and statistics of the substances they KNOW about. Then everybody slinks off to their own little corners with no minds being changed at all and no progress made. I know the issue of drugs is a very difficult one to solve but if the emotion is removed and the facts learned then there is more chance of a middle ground being met, which would be a start.The question that needs to be answered is this.....Do we want a society run by criminal gangs, or do we want it run by the people we elect?'Cos the answer at the moment is that the gangs are having a far too bigger say in how this country is developing. The Government seem to be impotent in tackling anything of note and they can't make their minds up if cannabis is harmful or not. They are sending the message that they are ignorant of any facts regarding drugs and the kids on the street see it too. If drug users are constantly dismissed as weak-willed without their point of view being heard then they will continue to be marginalised and seen as attractive to the young, and the cycle will continue.I cry for England, my country, my homeland, being fed to the dogs in a very public way. I hope and pray its people wake up and act to save it. Sun 12 Jul 2009 15:34:16 GMT+1 Lord-Muck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=90#comment119 mmmmmm i like drugs Sun 12 Jul 2009 12:00:51 GMT+1 JTinNL http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=90#comment118 First of all I want to say that on the average I see a lot more sensible posts on this blog than on many others. Living in the country in question myself, I must credit BigSammyB for the accurate statements about the correlation between some examples of "liberalism" in the Netherlands and the low scores on the aspects mentioned in his comment (# 101). These are largely accurate, the policy on "soft drugs" in the Netherlands also clearly achieved its goal. But it put the country in a difficult position internationally sometimes. It gave ammunition to others, one of the best examples being Chirac calling Netherlands a "narco-state" in retaliation to the criticism on France's nuclear testing in the Pacific, and there have been other examples. One other problem was that Netherlands was and is not an island. The policy attracted "drug tourism" from mainly the Schengen countries like France and Germany (and UK too, even not being a Schengen country). This has caused some annoyance from people living around the "coffee shops", more so in the Southeast than in Amsterdam. Last but not least it has always been hard to gain credibility from a legal/political perspective with a tolerant policy at the front door of the coffeeshops, and the crackdown on the supply on the back door. Nevertheless, one thing has become very clear over the years: prohibition would not work here in fact it would have had the opposite effect, we all have been adolescents, haven't we?), and openness and education worked quite well since the seventies, not only on drugs issues but also on the sexual issues that BigSammyB referred to. That is to say: it has worked here, but it may not necessarily work everywhere. In that sense I think the comment of leslie_farkas (#112) is spot on. I don't know if the effect here is connected with common sense, I would rather explain it by the fact that any such a policy must fit into the overall national situation and mentality. In that sense, the comparison between San Francisco area and the Netherlands is seems accurate. While the Netherlands has been an extremely introvert and conservative country in the post-war period until the early sixties, the tide turned completely in the second half of the sixties, and it was not for the first time in history that interest and tolerance for anything that what was different from the usual came up again. So there was and is a long vested historic setting.My personal impression is, that this has a lot to do with the small size of the country and the thereby inevitable orientation on what is abroad. It made the sixties/seventies youth rebellious and revolt against the (in their view) narrowmindedness of the previous generation. I think that this, at least partly, explains why the liberal policies on several issues could work, while this may be more difficult in countries that are bigger and culturally/historically not so open to outside influences (e.g. US, UK, Germany, France). However, it might be worthwile for any country to explore policies that work in other countries, try to find out why they work there, and then analyze whether this could be made workable in your own country with its own political and historic settings. Meanwhile, things have changed here drastically. We also have had our own (ultra) right swing here, both politically and culturally. I don't like it, but admittedly this also is part of being an open country. Both to immigration with all its problems, and at the same time open to foreign "trendsetting examples" like Austria's late extreme rightist Jörg Haider, France's Le Pen and Belgium's DeWinter. For the time being our politics, like in other places, seem to be dominated by scape goating, pretty ignorant "underbelly feelings" and a one-liner culture. As a result, the "liberal and tolerant" Netherlands is not the same as it was. A large number of the coffeeshops have been closed down. And in the Amsterdam Red Light District, many of the once characteristic red lit windows now feature fashion and art shops. This sort of "neo-conservatism" has happened before, but bigots tend to surround themselves with not too reliable people, and the current trend may be temporary. Everything is cyclic in some way, so I am not making any plans to leave yet. Sun 05 Jul 2009 23:37:11 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=89#comment117 Informative looks like drug users will no longer be a minoity to be abused. Sat 04 Jul 2009 22:14:52 GMT+1 politicallyincorrect http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=88#comment116 "executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime"That means we have to take his arguments against legalisation with a big pinch of salt; if drugs were legal, he'd be out of a job. Fri 03 Jul 2009 11:17:00 GMT+1 exnewsman http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=87#comment115 Forget the war on drugs There never was one. All we had was massive sums of taxpayers' money being wasted on people who started taking the stuff because they enjoyed it. In the meantime, we created a massive, costly, local and national anti-drugs bureaucracy whose members are doing very well out of achieving nothing. Legalise the stuff and let's have the government supply it at cost price to addicts, That way, the criminal market will collapse and there will be no need for addicts to cripple 86-year old women by shattering their hip bones while mugging them for their pensions. Taxpayers should also fund one attempt to get clean; if that fails, the addict is on his or her own. Then, they'll either assume responsibility for their own lives oir they'll go under. If they overdose on the cheap stuff and die, hard luck. There are many cases more deserving of our tax money than addicts. That leaves one sub-grup to be dealt with; namely those who deliberately introduce others to their degrading habits. For some perverse reason, addicts like nothing better than to drag others into their squalor and school children make an impressionable, easily-led marketplace. There is an appropriate course of action of anyone convicted of such entrapment. It's called a firing squad. Thu 02 Jul 2009 22:59:34 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=87#comment114 Albert Einstein once said The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Think about this quote for a second and ask yourself, does this quote apply to the way our government have been dealing with drugs for the last 50+ years ?Why then should we continue with Prohibition ? Thu 02 Jul 2009 17:02:00 GMT+1 hawk_is_howling http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=86#comment113 FAO Isenhorn:If you actually looked into the subject, instead of imagining your hypothetical scenarios and implying the outcomes, you would perhaps change your mind.It can be shown that the legal status of drugs has very little bearing on how much they are used. If anything, the more a drug is criminalised the more it is used. Social and economic circumstances play a much bigger role. But that is another issue.The only way to combat addiction, deaths and harms caused by drug use is by providing the facilities required to help the people who need it most. Criminalising these people instead exacerbates the problem.Compare different countries drug policies with their drug use. Look at how many people go to prison and come out drug addicts with a degree in production and dealing. Compare countries investment in drug treatment programs wit their rates of addiction. The facts are all there in plain sight.The argument comes up time and time again, these kinds of methods would not work in the UK, we are unique in our evils. Well how do you think things got this bad? And do you really think continuing down the same path willmake things better or worse?It took a long time for this policy change to come about in Portugal, and things had to get pretty bad before people would accept the idea. I ask, how bad do things have to get in the UK before we can see the light? Thu 02 Jul 2009 14:47:27 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=85#comment112 110. At 1:53pm on 02 Jul 2009, C-SHORE wrote:"..lets start things in a new way, get the government to legalise the drugs, then put the tax on them.."C-SHORE, you started out saying that 'most people here have no clue' but then you have gone on to say what a lot of us have been shouting about. OK, there are some people here who know less about some things, and maybe more about others, and I myself started off posting on this blog with a very similar comment. I quickly came to realise that there are some with one opinion, some with a middle ground opinion, and some a far right. Situation Normal. What happens from discussions like this, but only if people keep coming back to read, respond, etc., is that opinions quickly get formed and arguments quickly become debates. Debates are excellent forum for exchanging ideas, and it is those exchanges of idea that become important as it is they that form opinion, and to change opinion is our aim. You mention nightlife, and I don't think anyone has really tackled that area yet, but you are right. The drugs that are part of nightlife / clubland are different drugs, but drugs all the same. You don't get people smoking crack in a nightclub (apart from the smoking being illegal anyway), but are more likely to be bombing speed or snorting coke, or doing acid, pills or whatever. To decriminalise is not to legalise. Society is a drug user. All users will not become addicts, it is a matter for the individual. Decriminalisation won't change that use - what it does, is acknowledges the fact that use is widespread, and gives us the foundations for bringing help to those that want it (addicts) whilst recognising that recreational users are widely law abiding, respectable people. And finally, thanks for the vote of appreciation. Thu 02 Jul 2009 14:24:08 GMT+1 Leslie Farkas http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=84#comment111 The problem always was, and always will be America. The US was and is the main reason and impetus behind global drug prohibition. In the past nations that dared to take a more relaxed stance incurred the severe displeasure of Washington, which could take a number of forms. Loans suspended or called in, trade sanctions imposed and weapons sales halted. America bullied the world's nations into adopting a hard line stance in the past.The supposedly more liberal Obama administration can hardly make a difference here. There is coming from the mentality of the people an enormous cultural resistance to change and reform of any kind, including drug policy. American attitudes about drugs and drug laws derive from puritanical religious thinking, which sees this and many other issues in morally absolute, black or white terms. You are either a sinner or saint, and drugs make you a sinner.The mindset of the people has also been affected by over a 100 years of relentless, one sided propaganda from both the govt and media. As a result, half the populace is incapable of being rational about this and seeking rational solutions to the problem. Although many politicians in private think pot prohibition is wrong in principle, almost none dare say so publicly, as half of their electorate would exhibit a hysterical reaction if they did say such.The Dutch model is not going to fly here, except in a few ultra liberal enclaves like San Francisco. The Dutch are more secular and grounded in their thinking; they appear to have more common sense. American law and attitudes about this issue are driven more by emotion, which is what the govt and society have willfully instilled in the people for generations. Garbage In, Garbage Out Thu 02 Jul 2009 14:13:13 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=83#comment110 108. At 08:45am on 02 Jul 2009, Isenhorn wrote:"So it is indeed as I thought- a lot of people advocating legalisation because of their selfish motives, without regards for the consequences."Unfortunately, the remarks left by #101. At 4:02pm on 01 Jul 2009, bigsammyb "I personally couldn't care less about 'some kid on a council estate'" do little to help our discussion, but to read the remark in context is not wholly wrong. He goes on to say it's not his responsibility, which could be correct, albeit selfish. I'd rather take the tack that it is the responsibility of ALL of us. Isenhorn, there will always be people to disagree with a methodology to effect change, much like there will always be those who seek to take advantage of it too, but it is the end result we should focus on, even if the road isn't the straightest or easiest. There are selfish people everywhere, but you shouldn't put everyone in favour of decriminalisation into the same basket. When pubs went to all day opening, we feared there would be alcoholics on every corner, staggering around town during the day and night. Did that happen? No. OK, it took time to adjust, as does any cultural change, but 20 years on, people have the freedom to have a drink in the afternoon if they want to, without the recrimination of an out dated law. And I can go into a pub at 10pm to find it is empty - only starting to get busy closer to midnight as they're open until 3am. People police their own selves. When the tobacco 'age of consent' was lifted from 16 to 18, I thought we'd have a load of teens being discriminated against (17 year olds who had started smoking only to find they were now criminals because the law changed), but that didn't happen because tobacco use has in fact dropped, significantly.Each drug would have to be dealt with individually, under any change in the law, as I have said in previous posts, and whilst I can see where you're coming from, bigsammyb is correct in his own way. We all have to take responsibility for our own actions. Looking at the bigger picture, the point of decriminalisation is to effect a cultural change for the betterment of everyone. I've talked about education a lot in my posts, and I don't mean education at school level, I'm taking about social and cultural education. Isenhorn, I feel we are at opposite ends of this discussion, but that is a perfect starting place for any debate - that way we have two sides working toward a common goal. Cheaper Drugs Now should be confined to the Chatsworth Estate - and that is not my, nor anyone elses cry. Decriminalising the substance will make providing help to those using it much more easily given, and by discussing and dealing with drug use in open society, will de-stigmatise those who want to, but are currently unable to, ask for help. Hardly a selfish motive now is it? Thu 02 Jul 2009 13:52:19 GMT+1 C-SHORE http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=83#comment109 most people on this page have no clue what they are talking about!recreational users have no desperation for drugs as some people mention.. alcohol causes more problems than those who take drugs recreationally. there are a few exceptions to this case granted but as a whole alcohol is the biggest problem. recreational drugs users such as coke, e's are often found in the same nightspots at weekends anyway, so if people are so worried about coming into contact with users, then dont go to these places..lets start things in a new way, get the government to legalise the drugs, then put the tax on them. use this tax to help those intent on beating addictions, allow proper medical help to those who do become in need of it in clubs without fear of prosecution.clean the image of the uk nightlife, this is a choice of to use or not.. allow people the freedom to do this....also very appreciate the comment "All drugs affect our state of mind, be that alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, cannabis, tobacco, speed, or heroin. They are available now. They are used, in varying degrees by much of the population, now. People police it themselves. All we are saying is, decriminalise the substance, de-stigmatise the user, clean up and tax the industry and make it safer for those who are already using, whatever that may be. It is only then, with social acceptance of the problem, that we can move forward with a program of education over the coming generations. We did it with alcohol, we did it with tobacco, now lets do it properly, and treat adults like adults and look at the world through open eyes." Thu 02 Jul 2009 12:53:08 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=82#comment108 Isenhorn wrote:"So it is indeed as I thought- a lot of people advocating legalisation because of their selfish motives, without regards for the consequences."Surely that should read: a person advocating legalisation because of their selfish motives.The overwhelming majority of people on here advocating legalisation are not doing it with any selfish motive and to say one person is a lot when they are in fact in the minority is just misleading.If we were to take the respondents to this blog as representative of the nation (I'm not saying we are, but if we were) then you've got several people (at least five) calling for legalisation for the good of the country and one, in your opinion, calling for legalisation for selfish reasons.That'd mean 16.6% are using selfish reasons, while 83.4% are not. Thu 02 Jul 2009 10:51:33 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=81#comment107 101. At 4:02pm on 01 Jul 2009, bigsammyb wrote:'I personally couldn't care less about 'some kid on a council estate' they are not my responsibility. If thats your child then may i suggest you take repsonsbility for their actions.Also you seem to be under the impression that drug use is somehow a reaction to social problems, they aren't. Weed is no different to alcohol in recreational use and you totally missed the point that much more dangerous drugs such as steroids are currently decriminalised.'So it is indeed as I thought- a lot of people advocating legalisation because of their selfish motives, without regards for the consequences. Your attitude is entirely at odds with the attitude of people who want legalisation in order to limit the social harms of drugs and your postings are not helping their cause. Your theory that drugs do not stem from social problems is interesting despite the fact that is again completely different from what other proponets of legalisation have stated in this thread. Even more interesting still is the fact that by drugs you obviously mean weed and steroids, completely disregarding heroin and other addictive drugs, which use is indeed mostly limited to people with social problems.The fact that opinions like yours predominate when the question of decriminalisation of drugs is raised is the reason why it is not taken forward more quickly. I am sure a lot of people are againts it just because they are appaled at the sight of people frothing at the mouth about their right to take weed, while at the same time 'not caring less about 'some kid on a council estate' who is heroin or diazepines dependant.Let us imagine the following scenarion- all hardcore drugs like heroin, morphine and diazepines are made legal so that people addicted to them do not have to turn to crime to fund their addiction. The drug-related crime levels fall immediately, drug addicts are no longer being preyed upon by unscrupoulos dealers.However, the 'soft', recreational drugs remain illegal. As a self-professed 'responsible adult' would you stop using them? After all, according to your posts that is a life-style choice and you are not dependant on them. Would you be a responsible adult and stop doing something which is a crime, which you do not really need and may potentially cause you harm? I very much doubt so. I am sure the arguments about 'my right to take drugs' and 'how dare anybody tell me how to live my life' will pop-up pretty quickly. Thu 02 Jul 2009 07:45:23 GMT+1 akapantha http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=80#comment106 Definately agree with not criminalising drug users and that medical detox/help should be available. I personally do not drink alcohol but do like to have the occasional spliff instead although it is very hard to find a good smoke for what feeling I require at the time. If we legalised marajuana we would have the choice of what to smoke, the strentgh and quality, and provide hundreds of jobs for the people of Hull after all it is a port. I hope that we do move forward and open our minds as a nation alcohol doesnt suit everyone most of us like to mellow out after a hard day. Thu 02 Jul 2009 07:41:50 GMT+1 LippyLippo http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=80#comment105 In response to the posters who say that we need to legalise and educate - it doesn't seem to have worked with sex (record promiscuity and STIs), drink, or anything else does it? To say that it should be legalised just because lots of people do it and it's difficult to enforce is a craven argument. It may be coloured by the fact that many of the proponents are users themselves - unfortunately we can't have this debate. You could just as well claim that so many people exceed the speed limit that we might as well abolish it and try to educate people into driving at an appropriate speed!! We all know that this won't work because everyone would have their own idea of what is a reasonable speed. Education is increasingly useless in the face of a hedonistic youth who simply don't value it any more, so the only means of reducing drug use is to hit at the availability. As a 15 year-old I'm quite sure I would have tried drugs had they been readily available - it was only their lack of availability and fear of punishment that stopped me. And I'm quite sure that it's the only thing that will stop many others as well. Let's get the drugs and the dealers off the streets. Thu 02 Jul 2009 07:30:13 GMT+1 hawk_is_howling http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=79#comment104 Prohibition does not work and it can be proven that it only exacerbates the very harms that it is supposed to reduce.Those who cry "think of the children" would be better spending their time educating those children about making informed choices and being responsible, rather than expecting the government to nanny them when they are on the streets and fill their head with propoganda. Britain has always taken its cues from the US in terms of drugs policy, now that there is a huge change in attitudes in the US hopefully this country will follow suit. It is only amatter of time before the policy makers see sense, the question is how much unneccesary harm and death must there be before they do?What I find encouraging is there seems to be more and more people, like those who have posted above, who are willing to look past the lies and innuendo and find out the facts for themselves; and more and more truthful and reasonable news articles, like those being written by Mark Easton. Thu 02 Jul 2009 03:26:42 GMT+1 FreeThinker23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=78#comment103 I work with drug dependent people in the criminal justice system and I can see a clear separation between recreational drug use and a more dependent drug use. I have a problem with the over medicaliastion of heroin dependence and I don't use the word 'addiction'. I think people generally chose to use drugs and can chose to stop, in fact I have seen many people do just that. But that isn't like saying it is easy... but if people really want to they can stop. So for me this idea they are ill is not correct as you cannot chose to be 'cured'. Despite this I feel heroin should be available on prescriptoin and this would put the real villains, the dealers, out of business. There is a more difficult problem with crack cocaine and crystal meth, but for me heroin is a no-brainer - stop giving out methadone and give heroin instead but still push people towards rehab and more modern and effective treatments such as subutex/blockers etc. The crux of it is people don't give up until they want too and until then we should minimise the harm they do to themselves and the communities the live in. Wed 01 Jul 2009 20:00:55 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=77#comment102 102. At 4:05pm on 01 Jul 2009, Isenhorn wrote:"What I am worried about is my own child starting to take legal drugs in univercity (or school)"Would you prefer your child was involved in legal drugs or illegal drugs - because it is a fact of life that drugs, whether legal or illegal are already available. I would much prefer my child was given the opportunity to take up legal (safe and regulated) drugs than take a chance with home-grown or street drugs. I'd like to simplify the discussion. I started smoking when I was a young man - I'm not old yet, but I was in my teens when I started. Teachers, at school, could doubtlessly smell it on my clothes, and I was often asked to hand over my cigarettes. As a 13 or 14 year old, I was breaking the law, and the teacher had no issue with asking me to hand them over, because the substance itself was not illegal. This was during the mid 70s and very early 80s, and mostly, I'd get them back at the end of the day - something which I doubt would happen now, for better or worse, not part of the discussion. To counter that - let us say that your child (wholly hypothetically for the purposes of this discussion) was suspected of smoking weed during lunch-time. Teacher might still feel ok asking for the tobacco or cigarettes to be handed over, but how would a teacher feel, knowing the legalities involved, about asking the kid to 'hand over your weed'. On one hand, the teacher might just take it home, and smoke it him/herself, but on the other, how would that teacher then dispose of it, supposing it wasn't smoked. The teacher, by 'doing the right thing' would now be in possession of a Class B drug, would be seen as unfit to deal with children, and likely ruin his career, because he did the right thing. Dilemma?A great basis for discussion. I agree with the sentiment, I really do, but it is the practice of our society to alienate other people by 'banning' an activity that society says it doesn't like. Yes, we need to protect the children, much as we already have to do from the effects of smoking and drinking. Since we have had health warnings on cigarettes, smoking has suffered a depression - a big depression. Less young people smoke tobacco today than when I was in school, but these kinds of 'sea-changes' take an age to come about. It will take at least 2 generational changes to effect a swing in our social acceptance let along the legislative acceptance, but we need to start somewhere. I'll no doubt say it again and again, no-one is advocating the forceful addiction of the nation, but to show trust will gain trust. Give people (adults) an informed choice, with the informed repercussions, and let them make their own way. It is uneducated opinion that is supporting the current law. Propoganda and misinformation. What we need to spread is truth and understanding (what I'd like to think of as education) and only then can we truly say we are, and are seen to be, addressing a global problem. Wed 01 Jul 2009 16:20:25 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=77#comment101 Secratariat,Indeed legalisation will work in the case you mentioned- that is, it will stop people turning to crime/ prostitution to fund their addiction. But it will not make them stop using drugs. In order to achieve this we will need to address the causes of the young people being on the street and needing drugs, and that would not be so easy.On the other hand, as has been mentioned by other posters, such cases as you describe might be uncommon, real addicts being far rarer than social users. What I am worried about is my own child starting to take legal drugs in univercity (or school), first on a Saturday night, them more often, then starting to skip lectures and at the end failing their exams and thus losing their prospects for the future. You described yourself how easy that is, only in your case it was with alcochol and not drugs.If it happens to high-achieving pupils, than it will be even easier to happen to vulnerable youths-poor, uneducated and rejected by society, turning to drugs out of desperation and because they are readily available. I suppose with education and discussions with their children parents might be able to counter that. But seeing how that has worked with alcochol I am not too optimistic. The youths who even now skip school and drink without their parents taking any action will not have even that chance.As always, there is no easy answer. Legalisation will have its own negative sides, besides its positive effects on crime. Whether it will work for everybody, I am not so sure. Wed 01 Jul 2009 15:05:40 GMT+1 bigsammyb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=76#comment100 87. At 10:51am on 01 Jul 2009, Isenhorn wrote:I take it your rather patronsing snidey comment was directed at me, i will reply.I personally couldn't care less about 'some kid on a council estate' they are not my responsibility. If thats your child then may i suggest you take repsonsbility for their actions.Also you seem to be under the impression that drug use is somehow a reaction to social problems, they aren't. Weed is no different to alcohol in recreational use and you totally missed the point that much more dangerous drugs such as steroids are currently decriminalised.So lets take your example, the poor kid on a council estate. You obviously don't care if he turns to steroids? Id much rather he developed a weed problem than destroyed his body and mind with steroids.But i digress, the point here is the fact that in every country in the world where drugs are tolerated and people have freedom of choice there is far less of a problem with drug usage.That isn't a coincidence its common sense. Drugs are cheaper, of higher quality and safer.Drugs also lack the prestige and shock value amongst the young and they are no longer used to rebel.This goes further than drugs actually, take the Netherlands.- age of consent 14- full availability of birth control to anyone- legal/tolerated drug use- toleration of prostitutionAnd whats the result?- lowest rates of underaged sex in europe- lowest number of teen pregnancies in europe- lowest amount of drug use in europe- lowest levels of aids in europeAnd then look at the UK where we have the most backward drug alcohol and sex legislation in europe:-- most teenaged sex/pregnancies- most weed use- most cocaine use- most heroin use- most STD infections in europe- most problems with underaged drinking and drink related violenceTake responsibility for yourself don't expect me to do it. All i want is MY FREEDOM. Wed 01 Jul 2009 15:02:48 GMT+1 Joan Olivares http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=75#comment99 My concern with the whole drug issue is about the complicity of governments to launder drug profits. For example, why are well known bank branches allowed to do business in Karachi where drug profits are laundered? Western governments always speak from both sides of their mouths. On the one hand they decry the harmful effects of drugs while simultaneously cashing in on it. Stop the charade! Legalise or criminalise but don't play both sides. Wed 01 Jul 2009 15:01:53 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=74#comment98 Looks like the bigots are back. Here we go again. Gothnet, MasterSubsea and Secretariat - I think the 4 of us should think about taking our message into the public domain. Ever considered politics? Between us, I think we have all put very good arguments out there about why decriminalisation / legalisation of the drug culture needs to be taken forward, but then we get the usual bigoted view coming back again and again. Good job I like a good argument then eh!Seriously, it would be a boring blog if we all agreed, and I welcome the opportunity to be able to reinforce an opinion held my many millions of people, often in private, often too scared to bring it out. Yes, you could bring the same analogy to the homosexual revolution (Stonewall and it's offspring) during the 1960s, 70s and 80s to the present day. It is a culture change, and it will take a long time to accomplish. We've not even gotten past 1st base yet. For everyone else, none of us are advocating drug decriminalisation for personal gain. None of us are saying that everyone should become drug users or addicts. It is experience of the drug world, the way it plays society and the problems it brings to our culture that reinforce the reasons to change our focus and deal with this problem in a more adult way, rather than pretending it doesn't affect us so turning our backs and ignoring it - the 'it's someone elses problem' factor. The situation described above, where gangs of dealers are huddled around street corners, users leaving discarded needles in every park, people being beaten or burgled for the money to buy more drugs, is a nightmare scenario. You don't see people hanging around buying illicit alcohol or contraband cigarettes because they can be purchased at the local off-license or newsagent. A case for legalisation or should we ban alcohol and see how long an illicit trade takes to start up?I walk my dog in a local park, and have never come across piles of discarded needles. I've heard about it, sung in songs, written in gutter press and banded around in gossip, but I've never ever seen it. I've lived on council estates, inner-London, outer-London, Norwich, Oxford, Buckinghamshire, Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland, Dundee and Bristol, and I've never come across piles of discarded needles. I do, however, know of the needle exchange program that is adopted by many pharmacies across the country, that give out new and take in old used needles, which are then taken away by licensed agencies and incinerated. I don't try to say that it doesn't happen, but I don't think it is as said above, in EVERY park. It is a problem, and would be adequately dealt with if, as I've said before, drug use was de-stigmatised, decriminalised, brought out of the shadows and dealt with properly. As for a pilot needing a fix at 35,000 ft - come on, be real. For one, pilots are monitored, strictly. The smallest suspicion of any kind of activity that would endanger the aircraft or its passengers would raise flags long beforehand. You don't suddenly become addicted once you get to 35,000 ft. Further, if someone, anyone, pilot or otherwise, wanted to use drugs, he could, now, irrespective of whether it was legal or not. The fact is, you do not get pilots being arrested for being junkies every day, so that is a non-arguement. And another point - there's only one drug that I know of, in the context of this discussion, that would require someone to stop what they were doing and have their fix - and that is heroin. There are many other substances being discussed here. All drugs affect our state of mind, be that alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, cannabis, tobacco, speed, or heroin. They are available now. They are used, in varying degrees by much of the population, now. People police it themselves. All we are saying is, decriminalise the substance, de-stigmatise the user, clean up and tax the industry and make it safer for those who are already using, whatever that may be. It is only then, with social acceptance of the problem, that we can move forward with a program of education over the coming generations. We did it with alcohol, we did it with tobacco, now lets do it properly, and treat adults like adults and look at the world through open eyes. Wed 01 Jul 2009 14:44:25 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=74#comment97 Gothnet,The two views might be compatible logically but for me they are incompatible morally. What I abhore is the sight of spoiled teenagers jumping on the band wagon and demanding legalisation of drugs so that they can spend their daddy's hard-earned cash on good time on a Saturday night, without regards for the consequences. This one-size-fits-all 'legalise all drugs, for everybody, immediately' attitude about legalisation is what I do not agree with. Yes, we could legalise all drugs immediately. That probably will be OK for the majority of users. But what most people fail to say is what to do after that. What to do with the ones who will not be Ok and who will continue to use drugs merely because they are readily available? They might be a small percentage but none the less I would not be very happy if one of them was my own child. You suggested giving vulnerable people education, keeping them safe and out of trouble so that they do not turn to drugs. This is a good advice, but we do not need to wait untill all drugs are legal to implement it. Why has it not been started now? I believe because it is a lot more difficult to remove the causes of 'unsocial' drug use than trying to prevent the drugs reaching the market. If we have a successful policy of preventing vulnerable young people turning to drugs out of desperation and thus ruining their future even further, and if we are left only with the social users then we would have sorted the problem more than half. Legalisation will work for everyone only if it is coupled with a proper program for helping the ones that would not benefit from it. Otherwise it will just be like sending the message 'You are poor, you live in squalor and you take drugs because there is nothing else for you to do, but at least we have given you cheap, legal drugs. Cheers!'. Wed 01 Jul 2009 14:34:35 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=73#comment96 livingFreeadvice wrote:"When you become addicted to alcohol, it is less obvious to begin with and alcoholic drinks are readily available. It takes years to grab hold and by then an airline pilot would probably have retired through ill health."From my own personal experience I'd have to say that alcohol addiction does not take years to "grab hold".When I was a teenager I started drinking a lot of alcohol and I quickly became addicted, within a few weeks I was taking alcohol to school with me and would sneak to the toilets quite regularly to get my "fix".In the space of a few weeks I went from being an attentive, high achieving pupil to a disinterested & disruptive pupil with an alcohol addiction.I've also seen several other people go from normal happy people to alcohol riddled addicts very quickly after certain events in their lives.This doesn't mean we should bring in Prohibition as a means of controlling alcohol. Nor should we confuse recreational use with addiction, the two are separate issues and need to be dealt with separately.Isenhorn:If we're making up hypothetical situations then how about this one;A young person is unhappy at home and runs away to the nearest city.Within a few days they end up sleeping on the streets of that city and after a couple of weeks they're cold, hungry & scared.Someone then comes along and offers to give them something to eat, they take them back to their home where they give them some food but then also offer them something to take away the pain. The young person accepts and ends up taking (insert addictive substance of choice here), after taking it they sit back and a warm feeling overcomes them but as they sit there they notice the person is talking to them, telling them they must pay for what they've had and that if they don't there will be trouble.Faced with this they are left with little choice (in their mind) but to either steal something or engage in prostitution in order to pay back this person.Within a few days they've become a thief/prostitute who is addicted to God knows what and the person who they thought was trying to help them turns out to be a drug dealing pimp who ends up destroying their life.I know this is a hypothetical situation but it is one that is being played out all over our country every single week.If we took drugs out of the hands of such people we could, with much hard work, break the cycle of crime & addiction that plagues many of our cities and is currently destroying many of our people.I'm not saying it is this simple or that it would be easy but I think if we truly want to improve our country then this is a step we must take, we must end Prohibition and replace it with a system of Legalisation, Regulation & Taxation.Our current drug laws harm the most vulnerable in our society the most and, as yet, there is no credible alternative. Wed 01 Jul 2009 14:25:10 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=72#comment95 GothnetThere might not be a second time! Wed 01 Jul 2009 14:20:18 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=71#comment94 #IsenhornI don't see the incompatibility between the two views. They come down to the same thing. Not wanting to be stigmatised by having a criminal record or given dangerously impure substances works exactly the same for hedonistic professionals and vulnerable council estate youths. Wed 01 Jul 2009 13:55:34 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=70#comment93 It is now very common for people mix both alcohol and drugs. Well-adjusted people living comfortable lifestyles are worlds apart from others reality. The fact is massive of people are not as fortunate and do not and have the gift to make informed choices and stay in control.Hypothetical maybe, but I am making the point that if drugs were legalized there might be an increase in major accidents. [Maybe even his co-pilot would be zonked!] Who knows? Consciousness is altered affecting judgment but hey, life is a gamble. Wed 01 Jul 2009 13:44:53 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=70#comment92 Gothnet,In my comment I stated that I understood the reasons behind wanting to legalise drugs if that is to combbat drug-related crime and help addicts. My issues are with people who want a legalisation not to help the person from the council estate I gave as an example, but to take away the negative implications associated with their own chosen lifestyle, without regards to what happens to the most vulnerable members of society. If you read my comment again you will see that I never suggested prohibition was the only way and thus your reply about me 'not thinkig beyond 'drugs are bad! ban them!' is irrelevant and inappropriate. Wed 01 Jul 2009 13:38:11 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=69#comment91 #90 livingFreeadviceWhat a load of old nonsense. Alcoholics don't necessarily all "retire through ill health", and there *was* a big scandal just a couple of years back about drunken pilots.Why does your hypothetical pilot start to use heroin, by the way? And how does nobody notice? And what's the copilot doing when the pilot starts to get ill? And nobody reports this after the first time it happens?THINK for god's sake. Wed 01 Jul 2009 12:46:48 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=68#comment90 #87 Isenhorn"Let us just imagine a young person, brought up on a council estate somewhere, without proper education and job prospects, feeling forgotten by society and turning to drugs. Are we confortable saying that this same person is able to make the same informed choice about drugs as the self-declared 'professonals' who want legalisation in order to be able to indulge in their drug, alcochol and promiscuity-fuelled Saturday nights?"Are you comfortable saying that the current laws are helping that person in any way at all?Are you comfortable that keeping drugs underground, impure and unregulated will make his life better?Are you comfortable that keeping drug dealing profitable and fashionable by keeping it illegal is helping his estate develop?What's disgusting (to use your own words) is that people like you don't think past "drugs are bad! ban them!" and refuse to see how banning them helps nobody, least of all this hypothetical deprived kid.Giving that person some education, keeping him safe, stopping him from falling into debt to the unscrupulous, helping him if he gets into trouble, that's a far better option than stigmatising him and turning him further away from society. It allows even him an informed choice and it doesn't necessarily destroy his life even further if he chooses badly. Wed 01 Jul 2009 12:43:49 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=67#comment89 TarquinI think heroin has a different effect to alcohol. When you become addicted to alcohol, it is less obvious to begin with and alcoholic drinks are readily available. It takes years to grab hold and by then an airline pilot would probably have retired through ill health. Say he starts to use heroin and needs a fix when he is thousands of feet up, I reckon it would be more tricky to get his hands on a fix, he would have to go cold turkey and this would be no joke for the pilot or the hundreds of people whose lives depended on him. Wed 01 Jul 2009 11:04:03 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=67#comment88 #86 Bakeristruth"Drugs are just the thing people turn to in times of need and depression, drug dealers prey on this feeling and therefore are just scavengers of misery... cut out the depression and need for 'uplift' and you solve your problem. Truth."Just like alcohol and publicans. Nobody ever goes to the pub just for a laugh, has a few drinks and enjoys themselves do they?There are a vast variety of reasons people use drugs. Depression may be responsible for some getting addicted to substances like heroin, and it is frequently a side effect of said addiction.But if you think the only reason anyone ever smoked cannabis is some sort of desperation or abject misery then you're frightfully uninformed.There is a reason that people use drugs, and I'm not talking about the vanishingly small number of addicts. They enjoy them.#83 Delboy-the-DoughnutCrackdowns don't work. What these people you describe went through, if it's true, is horrendous. But drugs are already illegal all over the world.Did the laws making them illegal and quite punishable actually help your friends? Did they?No. They did not.The people that did that should be punished, without a doubt. BUT, if we had given them access to cheap heroin, do you think they would go out and do what they did?As for your "old ladies afraid to go out at night", I would have thought cutting the money out of drug sales would cripple the gangs and make the streets significantly safer for them.But all you see is what you've been programmed to see by decades of government propaganda. The thought Drugs = BAD, therefore you refuse to consider that any of the bad side effects on society could be due to the environment created by the prohibition rather than the (often quite innocuous) substances themselves. Wed 01 Jul 2009 10:14:22 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=66#comment87 I noticed the article regarding health service staff in Wales complaining that not enough is being done to protect them against the increasing violence against staff. I must say first that violence can be spark of by the bad attitude some staff demonstrate. If you approach people in a decent way, you get the best out of them. {Even people intoxicated.]Saturday nights in casualty need to be seen to be believed. It might get worse if we do not deal with the increasing drug problem. I think it should be a separate offence other than simply drug dealing if you are selling substances so badly poisoned [cut] with cleaning powder, animal medications or God knows what! We should be looking at attempted murder or g.b.h. Wed 01 Jul 2009 10:05:16 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=65#comment86 I understand people who propose legalisation of drugs, in order to limit the level of crime and risks to users associated with the current prohibition. What really winds me up is people who want legalisation because of their own selfish, narrow-minded motives. Take as an example one of the previous posters- he is a self-confessed recreational user, broke the law (granted, he thought it unjust), got a criminal record and now advocates legalisation in order to clear his name. I am sorry, but that appers very similar to a guy, who having been previously jailed for having consensual sex with a 13 year old girl, now proposing the age of consent to be lowered to 13 so that he could legally continue to indulge his passions. Even more disgusting are the people who claim that using drugs is somehow some unalienable 'right' of theirs, a 'right' comparable to the right of women to vote and the rights of homosexuals. In this category are the people who always assume that prohibition is a way of somebody else 'telling them how to live their lives'. What they do not realise however is the fact that this is precisely what they are advocating. By claiming that they are responsible adults who can make their choice about drugs, those people are willing to inflict the drugs on other people who might be far more vulnerable and less able to make a choice. Let us just imagine a young person, brought up on a council estate somewhere, without proper education and job prospects, feeling forgotten by society and turning to drugs. Are we confortable saying that this same person is able to make the same informed choice about drugs as the self-declared 'professonals' who want legalisation in order to be able to indulge in their drug, alcochol and promiscuity-fuelled Saturday nights? An open discussion about drugs is necessary, but for everybody's sake let's not have it based on personal meotives. Wed 01 Jul 2009 09:51:20 GMT+1 Bakeristruth http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=64#comment85 Drugs are just the thing people turn to in times of need and depression, drug dealers prey on this feeling and therefore are just scavengers of misery... cut out the depression and need for 'uplift' and you solve your problem. Truth. Wed 01 Jul 2009 09:16:16 GMT+1 bigsammyb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=64#comment84 Good to hear you mention steroids. Why is it cannabis is class b yet steroids are decriminalised and class C? Steroids are extremely dangerous! There are many many deaths every year directly attirubted to them. They can cause violent mood swings, make men grow breasts, kidney/heart failiure, they can cause your cartiledge in your windpipe to become soft meaning people can't breath independantly whilst asleep.There has never been a single recorded death caused by Cannabis. So why the discrepancy? While we are on this subject why aren't extreme sports illegal? They cause health problems too.The glaringly obvious point here is that drug classification has nothing to do with harm and everything to do with making some kind of misguided moral statement.Ministers don't mind steroids because users take excercise therefore they are considered okay as users aren't directly getting pleasure from them.Extreme sports too are deemed 'healthy' despite the obvious dangers. It isn't joined up thinking and it is basing legislation on personal morailty rather than harm.Its this attitude that meant homosexuality was illegal years ago and women couldn't vote.How dare anybody tell me how to live my life. Wed 01 Jul 2009 08:20:46 GMT+1 tarquin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=63#comment83 68 livingFreeadvice Would you feel happy with an airline pilot on heroin and his co-pilot popping uppers? A surgeon operating on you or bus drivers taking addictive substances---It's not like operating a plane or on a person while drunk is a crime or anything?It is already a crime to do these things, and drive, while under the influence of drugs - why would that change?Or do you believe they couldn't help themselves? Just like all those airline pilots on that addictive legal drug - alcohol Wed 01 Jul 2009 01:36:41 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=62#comment82 Delboy-the-DoughnutYou could say the same thing about alcohol, do you propose that we also bring in the prohibition of alcohol ?If so, how do you propose to do it and if not, why not ?I've been burgled, threatened and abused by drug users but I've also been burgled, threatened and abused by alcohol users too. As far as threatened and abused I'd have to say alcohol users have done this far more often than drug users but this is only my personal experience.I've looked at many sides of this argument and I believe we'd see a reduction in crime if we ended prohibition. Tue 30 Jun 2009 19:35:23 GMT+1 Delboy-the-Doughnut http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=61#comment81 Gothnet'I know there are some people that have made hatred of drugs such a part of their attitude on life that they would advocate that course of action but I find that line of thinking abhorrent'.Can I ask if you have ever been mugged, burgled, threatened or abused by drug users?Are you an elderly person who can't go out at night because of fear?I think your attitude is abhorrent if you are not willing to look at the side of those affected by drug crime. Tue 30 Jun 2009 17:34:46 GMT+1 Delboy-the-Doughnut http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=61#comment80 Why do we always here about the drug users needing help. What about, the elderly couple I know who had their house broken into and smashed to pieces whilst they were on holiday. Excrement left in every room family possesions sold off, even this old soldiers medals were gone. Every park you go in full of needles, bongs and tinfoil as well as all the muggings theft and violence, all drug related. Christ I'm sick of these do gooders who live a million miles from what is happening on the streets. Cracking down on drugs is whats needed and that should start with cold turkey in prisons. Tue 30 Jun 2009 17:27:42 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=60#comment79 Gothnet wrote:"what *are* you going to do to stop it?"Now that is a difficult question to answer.Some countries execute drug users, yet there are now more drug users in such countries than there ever has been.Other countries incarcerate drug users for many years, sometimes for the rest of their lives, yet there are more drug users in these countries than there ever has been.No matter what policies are enacted, the number of drug users keeps going up.The law simply does not stop anyone from taking drugs, and makes me ask:If drugs were legalised tomorrow, would you start using them ?For most people the answer is no, they've already made up their mind about the drugs they'd like to do and the legality of them played little or no part in the decision making process. Tue 30 Jun 2009 17:22:49 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=59#comment78 #77 kanomk2"It is extremely simple. Drugs are destroying our social fabric."Are you sure? I mean, you have good evidence for this, that it's the substances and their effects on people. Not the side effects of prohibition like gangs and smugglers?"IT MUST STOP IN EVERY COMMUNITY IN EVERY COUNTRY! Do not pacify users, reject them!!"What exactly do you suggest?Banning and enforcement meet with minimal success. There is more, but not perfect success even in places where drug dealing is a capital crime.I personally would not want to live in a society where an unpopular form of recreation that harms nobody but the user themselves (and then out of their own choice in the case of most popular street drugs, heroin and crack being exceptional) is punished with death. I know there are some people that have made hatred of drugs such a part of their attitude on life that they would advocate that course of action but I find that line of thinking abhorrent. And barring that, what *are* you going to do to stop it? Tue 30 Jun 2009 16:24:37 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=58#comment77 77. At 4:03pm on 30 Jun 2009, kanomk2 wrote:"Do not pacify users, reject them!!"And so confine the learnings of history to be a total waste of time, and the so-called civilisation of man to be a glitch on the animalistic attitudes of human-kind. Let's just give up shall we? Turn our backs? Yeah, that sounds like a really good idea to me. Do you have dictatorial leanings? Tue 30 Jun 2009 16:16:17 GMT+1 kanomk2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=58#comment76 It is extremely simple. Drugs are destroying our social fabric. They must be properly defined.So many lives continue to be destroyed.recreational drugs such as Cannabis surely is no worst than alcohol and on par with tobacco, less so even.Anything stronger is out. But then again, prescription drugs are deadly and 'issued' to people.$$$$ is in control. Change the social life and people do not need mind altering drugs to live in a society that is conducive to 'normal' life.I have lived in Thailand for the last 15 years, only the last 4 years has the structure change with ICE and s--t available. IT MUST STOP IN EVERY COMMUNITY IN EVERY COUNTRY! Do not pacify users, reject them!! Tue 30 Jun 2009 15:03:55 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=57#comment75 74. At 1:29pm on 30 Jun 2009, Woolfbane wrote:"Governments LIKE drugs, and let them into the country with only the flimsiest bleeding-heart pretence at tackling imports...Sadly, dozy British youth has been falling for this one since Thatcher's blind-eye policies of the 80s"Only since the 80s? Drugs have been a part of human existence since 4 feet became 2, and primates themselves ferment berries to get drunk on. There are many other examples, but I'm not really interested in going any further down that road. The point is, this discussion is not about what the governments do to subvert the distribution of drugs - there are more than a few conspiracy theories surrounding Heroin and the CIA, for instance - but is more a place for discussing the way forward, out of the current ridiculous situation of government, state and local authorities having to uphold old and out of date laws that do not help either side, and maintain only a status-quo of denial and social ineptitude to deal with it. Tue 30 Jun 2009 14:55:01 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=56#comment74 68. At 6:32pm on 29 Jun 2009, livingFreeadvice wrote:"Would you feel happy with an airline pilot on heroin and his co-pilot popping uppers? A surgeon operating on you or bus drivers taking addictive substances"I know many professional people in the world, airline pilots (goes with my job), police officers (goes with my previous job), tube drivers, bus drivers, construction workers, iT professionals, all of them, are on addictive substances. I'll allow your prejudice to guess what I'm talking about, but I'm really only speaking of alcohol and tobacco. The fact is that these people are adult enough to deal with it, and there are rules to protect us and laws to deal with those who cross the line. Some professions have random testing of employees to further safeguard against the likes of surgeons or tube drivers or airline pilots arriving at work drunk. What about anti-depressants - many people take them as a matter of course. Sleeping pills are not thought of as evil and pain-killers are an every day thing for many people. On the matter of education, experience is a great substitute. I'm not suggesting that everyone should use Crack to get an idea of whether to use it, but it's fair to assume that a lot of non-smokers are ex-smokers and a lot of non-drinkers are ex-drinkers, so that goes to show that people themselves can make informed choices. Many choose never to smoke or drink, even though it's there to buy freely. What I'm in favour of is a free choice to be available to everyone, without fear of legal or social recrimination. People are not stupid, and most will make the right choice, for them. By regulating and taxing the industry, we would have the means to provide help to those who need it, in the same way as smokers and alcoholics who want to give up are helped now. Not all alcohol users will become alcoholics and not all users of the other drugs under discussion will become addicts either. Alcohol is normalised, in society, but it is still a mind-altering drug at the end of the day. The difference is, most of society is educated and respectful of its use. Society is geared to deal with alcohol, albeit not without problems sometimes, but it does not generate the 'Oh My God' factor when spoken about in public. This cannot be fixed with a single act, as the prejudices that are entrenched in society will take decades to overcome, but overcome them we must if we want to move forward. That is why all drugs need to be brought out of the shadows, into broad daylight, and dealt with in an adult, structured, humane way. Tue 30 Jun 2009 14:40:01 GMT+1 Woolfbane http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=55#comment73 Give me a break, more like! - Governments LIKE drugs, and let them into the country with only the flimsiest bleeding-heart pretence at tackling imports. The unemployable rabble self-medicate and render themselves incapable of challenging the status quo. Drugs are a form of social control masquerading as rebellion. Sadly, dozy British youth has been falling for this one since Thatcher's blind-eye policies of the 80s. Sometimes the opiate of the masses is precisely that. Tue 30 Jun 2009 12:29:58 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=54#comment72 #68 livingFreeadviceThat's the problem though, we are already using the nation as an experiment. And it's not one that's working very well. If the current legal situation, if banning these substances actually achieved the aim of getting them off the street then we'd be having a different and more pure debate on the merits of legality or otherwise.As it is we have a situation in which the current legal framework is making things worse for a lot of people.I agree that children should be taught about the dangers of drugs (including booze) in social education classes at school. As they should about pregnancy STIs. It's just that I wholeheartedly reject the idea that the root of the problem is telling them how it all works!As for this -"Would you feel happy with an airline pilot on heroin and his co-pilot popping uppers? A surgeon operating on you or bus drivers taking addictive substances"Of course not. No more than I would if they were drunk. But I don't call for beer to be banned, I call for people not to drink before operating on me...This is a complex area, it's true, but sticking with the status quo is not helping anyone, we need a new approach. Tue 30 Jun 2009 10:21:24 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=54#comment71 67. At 6:17pm on 29 Jun 2009, masterSubsea wrote:"The main thing that gets on my goat is the usual self righteous pompous fools who freely comment on something they are blissfully unaware of and have only gleaned their information from the press/news/gossip etc which have thrown all drugs into the same classification when this is clearly not the case"Oh yes, that gets my goat too, but that's a part of the education too. I don't suggest anyone takes my route to get that sort of education, but it can be accomplished to 'educate' those that want to get involved, to help those that need it. I was going to write, 'educate the masses', but the majority of the population will have used drugs at some point in the their lives, so 'educate the minority' might work, but then no, because many people might have experience of A drug, SOME drugs, but few will have a good experience of MOST or ALL drugs. I can fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, to fit into that last category - at least, MOST drugs."with the obvious exceptions of heroin, crack, meth, PCP etc"I wouldn't like to exclude any drugs, especially if the plan is to provide help to those involved. Crack is very much more a gateway drug to heroin use than any other. Cannabis has always been cited as THE gateway drug, a theory that I don't wholly subscribe to, but do understand that the use of cannabis can lead one to be more promiscuous and therefore likely to be coerced into using harder substances. Heroin itself is not a killer, but of course, street heroin, if injected, can be cut with a lethal combination, which can and does cause death. Pure heroin will kill, by way of respiratory failure. Distinction needs to be drawn between the use of Coke, as recreational use and Crack as habitual use to Heroin as physical addiction use. Heroin addition is as bad as it gets, and I feel it would take the decriminalisation of all drugs, including heroin, to move us forward and help addicts kick it for good. I'm not, and have never suggested, and I hope you don't think I am, that heroin should be made available to one and all much like cigarettes are. By reading my posts, it may be thought, that I am asking for all drugs to be sold over the counter, but that is the nature of the twists and turns of this kind of media. What I'd propose, if I was in a position to do so, would be for:- Cannabis to be sold in the same way as Tobacco is today. - For the so-called 'white' drugs, Cocaine, Speed, to be sold in quality controlled ways via a pharmacy, but publically and unrestricted. - For Heroin to be sold only via a licensed pharmacy, under controlled conditions, with the aim to get addicts into treatment. That is a difficult one, because you need to ensure you catch all with the program whilst not alienating addicts, and so preventing what you're aiming for. It is for those reasons that I think decriminalisation is necessary across the board. So many drugs have been bundled into the one category - illegal drugs - and each is very different and should not be subject to the same treatment. They need separating and dealing with on their each and own merits. As for politicians doing the right thing, you're dead right - no upstanding politician is going to put their career on the line for any of those people they claim to represent - that just shows how hypocritical they all are. If it would make a difference, and I had the power to bring this up in parliament, I'd gladly champion a move. History will mark the man who effects this change. 70. At 8:37pm on 29 Jun 2009, Coventry_Realist wrote:"In my oppinion zero tolerance is the only answer"I cannot agree with you. Zero tolerance does not work, and does not help anyone. All zero tolerance will do here is to make society even more ignorant of the facts. Hopeless. Mon 29 Jun 2009 23:51:33 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=53#comment70 Coventry_RealistHow are you going to enforce Zero Tolerance ?Where are you going to find the Police, Customs & Excise Officers, the prison places and everything else you'd need if we were to really try to enforce Zero Tolerance ?At the moment the government are spending a fortune but the criminal gangs are able to outspend them, by legalising & regulating the sale of drugs you could take the money out of these gangs and put it into extra policing, better social services & education.Number 2 in your list could see a massive reduction if this happened, at the moment many of the people buying guns are buying them with the profits from drugs and using them to "defend" their patch. If we took the drug money away and also the "patch" then there'd be less reason for them to be fighting and a lot less money for them to spend on guns. After all, Tesco & Asda don't have gang battles over the sale of alcohol, or at least I've never heard of it happening.Number 5 would also go too as recreational drugs (Cannabis, Magic Mushrooms and Ecstasy) would be sold from licensed retailers, in my view, over the counter and only to adults in small quantities.Number 3 could be eliminated by having "shooting galleries" where addicts of hard drugs (crack, heroin) are supplied with a dosage under professional medical supervision, they'd go there to inject and wouldn't be able to take any off-site. These could easily be paid for with the tax from Cannabis. If the drug was supplied free to all addicts then they wouldn't need to turn to prostitution or crime to pay for their addiction, so we could get reduce number 6 too. The "shooting galleries" would also have drug councillors there who would give help to those wishing to give up.The separation of recreational drugs and hard drugs would help eliminate the "gateway effect", regulated supply could help minimise the opportunity for children to buy drugs, Tesco & Asda are far more responsible compared to current drug dealers, the risk of fines, bad publicity & prosecution is taken far more seriously by such companies.Numbers one, two and four are not just caused by illegal drugs, alcohol plays a large part while a lack of active Policing in the streets makes it worse.If the Police weren't having to deal with drugs they'd have a lot more time and resources to deal with the violent and acquisitive crime that leads to the anti-social problems you experience, while getting their share of the Cannabis tax would also give them more funding.In answer to your question, I have and do deal with these problems myself on an almost daily basis, I live on a council estate in Merseyside that is classed as very deprived with an above average crime rate and all of the other negative attributes you'd expect. Mon 29 Jun 2009 20:24:37 GMT+1 Coventry_Realist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=52#comment69 Reading through the comments I totally disagree with the soft approach.I live in a part of coventry that is plagued by antisocial behavior due to drugs.I would ask the majority of bloggers have thay had to live with the following:1) Being woken at 3am because one person decides to hammer in the face of another person?2) Living in an area which is regularly subjected to shootings and stabbings.3) Having to be careful where to walk as syringes are left lying on the pavement/Grassed areas.4) Being carefull not to go out too late at night as men and women are unsafe, (regular assult/Rape cases)5) Seeing drug dealers standing on corners passing out the goods.6) Prostitutes hanging aroud to get enough money....I can go on but i think you get the point. The common factor of all the above is Drugs.In my oppinion zero tolerance is the only answer. Mon 29 Jun 2009 19:37:57 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=51#comment68 masterSubseaI didn't want to be accused of massaging the figures to prove my argument so purposely chose very conservative estimates. Personally I think there are closer to 15 million Cannabis users in the country smoking an average of 4 ounces a year. This would give us a total of 36 billion pounds of taxation annually. That's 27 billion pounds more than they currently get from cigarettes.Without wishing to incriminate my friends, a lot of them smoke between a half and one ounce a month of "Skunk" while many more have the occasional spliff when they're with other people who are smoking. Incidentally these people are predominantly aged over 30, professionals earning a decent wage (so also paying lots of NI & Income Tax) and other than possession of Cannabis have never broken a law between them. Their habit is doing no more harm to society than them drinking wine so I don't really understand why the government insist on spending millions, if not bllions, of pounds a year trying to stop them. Mon 29 Jun 2009 19:22:28 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=51#comment67 GothnetTeenage pregnancies and STDs are sky high now and it seems to be an informed choice for some young people. The young should be taught about drugs as part of social education of course. Many children know and experience the bad effects of drugs and alcohol by living with addict parents and could tell most adults things that would offend delicate ears. Would you feel happy with an airline pilot on heroin and his co-pilot popping uppers? A surgeon operating on you or bus drivers taking addictive substancesI dont think there is a straightforward answer as there is always but if - what about and on and on.I feel most people speak from their own experience and going by the blogs, nobody died here. I might come across as small-minded but I am very much on the side of victims of drugs. I do not know the answer but we cannot use the nation as a huge experiment Mon 29 Jun 2009 17:32:12 GMT+1 masterSubsea http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=50#comment66 Yes SHLA2UK you are right, it was only a flippant light hearted post made in jest but it is a serious topic that needs to be addressed.The main thing that gets on my goat is the usual self righteous pompous fools who freely comment on something they are blissfully unaware of and have only gleaned their information from the press/news/gossip etc which have thrown all drugs into the same classification when this is clearly not the case.How can the people resposible for trying to solve this problem know where to begin when they have no actual first hand knowledge of what the true situation is ? They will not do the right thing and openly discuss this situation because they know it will cost them dearly politically to actually stand up and publically acknowledge that the majority of drugs actually pose no harm to the user themselves or the people around them - with the obvious exceptions of heroin, crack, meth, PCP etc.By doing this they would lose the vote and support of Mrs Jones and her middle class suburbanites and the blue rinse brigade and would be political suicide. Although with the current state of politics in the UK at the moment with the expenses debacle this information could probably be released and it wouldn't cause to much controversy (Labours 9/11 policy ' a good week to bury bad news'if you remember). Mon 29 Jun 2009 17:17:23 GMT+1 omnisquidgit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=49#comment65 This post has been Removed Mon 29 Jun 2009 15:29:33 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=48#comment64 64. At 3:52pm on 29 Jun 2009, masterSubsea wrote:"from 1 ounce you would get approx 25 decent smokes"I think you may be being misled there - if I only got 3 smokes from an eighth, that would be almost £7 per spliff - I'd estimate you'd get 10 - 15 good spliffs from each eighth, all dependent on dosage (and accuracy of what you're buying) - so you're looking at 80 - 120 smokes per ounce, less if you're liberal and more if your conservative (with the gear, not talking politics LOL)As for the maths, it is 3.5g to the 1/8th oz, and so 28g to the oz. I see what you're saying, and it makes for a quirky afterthought, but I don't think we can base the rationalisation of drug use on the benefits to our children of being able to do the maths. Little Johnny has an 8-ball of coke and gets a quarter of skunk. He gives a gram to little Sally and an 1/8th to his brother, how much smack will he get for what's left. Not funny in the real world, and maybe highlights the dangers of being too light-hearted about the subject, but I do see what you're saying - practical use of education. As with all drugs, of course, proper licensing and retail is done under strict law, however applied. There would have to be age restrictions just like there are with alcohol and baccy. Interestingly, we don't legislate against children buying coffee. Mon 29 Jun 2009 15:28:14 GMT+1 masterSubsea http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=48#comment63 Secratariat all good points raised previously and very good maths above, however i feel that an ounce a year would be a slight under-estimation. I'm not as good at the maths as you but i would estimate (from what i have been told of course) that from 1 ounce you would get approx 25 decent smokes so would estimate 1 - 2 weeks an ounce for average user.This would mean that your figures above would be ultra conservative and if you change the figures the actual tax you would make would be............................ erm loads more :)Also people don't appreciate the contribution this actually makes to a kids education mathematically - you would be truly impressed with the speed that the kids around here grasp the concept of fractions and how to convert imperial weights to their metric equivelents and back again in the blink of an eye - i mean how many politicians would be able to calculate the number of 1/8ths or 1/4's in a 9 bar, how many ounces in a quarter pound etc without paying for a researcher to do it for them ?Anyway back to the main thread - yes, give drug users a break. Mon 29 Jun 2009 14:52:29 GMT+1 Secratariat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=47#comment62 Rantolph wrote:"Let the druggies, drunks and faggers enjoy their addictions; just don't ask me to pay for cleaning up the mess and healthcare."At the moment "drunks" and "faggers" do pay for their healthcare and also for "cleaning up the mess" with the punitive tax that they pay on their alcohol & cigarettes.Legalisation, regulation & taxation of illegal drugs would mean that "druggies" would be doing the same.We'd also save the several £billion a year we currently spend trying to enforce unenforceable Prohibition Legislation as well as the thousands of people incarcerated for possession.Cannabis alone would generate £billion in taxation and would also have the added benefit of providing work to our farmers, packers, transport & retailers.At the moment Cannabis is selling for about £120 an ounce for "Skunk" type cannabis in our area. Some people I know grow it for their own consumption and they reckon it costs them about £40 an ounce to grow & prepare.If produced, prepared & packaged commercially & legally then the cost would be a fraction of the £40 an ounce it costs my friends to grow & prepare so if sold at a regulated price, say £100 an ounce, everyone along the chain could make sufficient profits and the government would be getting at least £60 an ounce in taxation.Even a conservative estimate would put the number of British Cannabis users at about 5 million, if they smoke an average of an ounce a year (again, a very conservative estimate) then that would generate £3billion a year in tax. Mon 29 Jun 2009 14:16:34 GMT+1 masterSubsea http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=46#comment61 Ok, firstly we have to accept that drug abuse, both of legal and 'illegal' drugs will continue regardless of what governments, police, think tanks etc try to do. While there is a demand for them there will always be a supply for them, the more we try to restrict their use, the more the cost increases/quality decreases and the more profits will be gained from them.There have been the usual postings so far from the usual people who have never tried so much as a joint through to the people who have had used drugs intravenously - i have no experience of this kind of use and can only comment on what i have experience of - joints and recreational 'white drugs'.I, and most of the people i knew, used 'white drugs' (coke, MDMA & speed) every weekend (and quite often a cocktail of all 3) and during the week we smoked dope instead of drinking. All of us worked - most of us professionals - none of us committed crimes to fund our lifestyles, none of us overdosed or caused any problems to others yet because of our choice of lifestyle we were 'criminals'. I now have a criminal record for possession as do a couple of my friends because we chose this way of life.Where is the harm ? Who were we harming, it was done in our own house most of the time except at the weekend and then drinkers and drug takers dont mix they have equal contempt of for each other -straighto's vs dopers. There was a bond as a 'drug taker' you were breaking the law together you could (and still can) spot a fellow 'doper' across a room and there was a silent acknowledgment. Ask any police officer how many people they ever arrested on ecstacy compared to the usual bullheaded drunks the ratio will be 1 'doper' to every 20 drunks. You will find most of the harm caused by drug use is through lack of knowledge of the drug, lack of respect for the drug and nowadays the poor quality that is available because the market is struggling to keep up with supply because of a global clamping down on supply and an increase in demand.From my point of view and in reference to the drugs above legalise them. There will be a quality control, you will know what quality the drug is, exactly what you are taking and the hit you're going to get. There will be no more, here we go lets see what happens, which even regular users still feel. The industry that would be created would create tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly and the taxes raised from the legitimate 'distribution' would be millions.I do not agree with the legalisation of heroin/smack/PCP etc but with the legalisation of above mentioned drugs this would take the average recreational user away from the 'unsavoury' characters mentioned previously and would also free up the DS (drugs squad) to actually target the dealers/suppliers etc of the drugs that are actually proven to destroy peoples lives.Please watch the film human traffic, this is the most acurate, more or less, portrayal of how we chose and people still do chose to spend their weekends. Mon 29 Jun 2009 13:50:49 GMT+1 Isenhorn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=45#comment60 '56. At 1:16pm on 29 Jun 2009, Moncursalion-Occamist wrote:#53 HOTPEPPERMANI oftem misread posts so please don't feel criticised unduly ,but if you re-read my last paragraph of my post #41 replying to Dominangel I state that the option would always be to "skip" according to the seriousness of the "Harm". So a murder would be eligible for death as a first offence, although if the "murderer" was an effective and highly valued member of society and the "Victim" was a low life, then a one year sentence of suitable "hard" labour may be a more suitable sentence.'**************************************************Moncursalion-Occamist, have you actually read your own sentence? An 'effective member of society' getting only one year hard labor for murdering a 'low life'? May I suggest you re-read it again. If you still do not find anything wrong with it, then I would be very grateful if you could let me know which country you reside in, so that I can stay as far as possible from it. Mon 29 Jun 2009 13:29:43 GMT+1 HotPepperMan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=45#comment59 #56 - I am a professional proofreader... so I do not misread. The point has simply been missed by yourself. Without drifting away from the main issue of drugs, your intended application of 'law' is seriously flawed."Let a jury or well selected magistrate or judge decide what harm is on the facts available. the sentencing would have all three tariffs available 1 year or straight to 7 years or for the obvious, straight to the death penalty. I admire simplicity and it suits the population so well.""well selected magistrate" - Selected on what basis? Prevailing mores? Political expediency?Where judgment is applied it is important to take into account all relevant information in order to prevent miscarriages of justice. Basing the severity of a murder on whether the perpetrator is "an effective and highly valued member of society" and the victim a "low life" would effectively give someone a licence to kill. A lynch mob is a lynch mob regardless of social position (value?) or number of people involved. What if a judge, stone cold sober, kills someone? What if a judge, drunk, kills someone? Now place someone who is arbitrarily considered of 'lesser social value' in the same scenarios. There are many aspects to a crime. In this example it is why there is manslaughter and varying degrees of murder as the crime committed.Getting back to the point and in relation to the article/WDR report 2009, there is a need to focus on the enablers (the drug suppliers) rather than the users. Imposing a stepped level of punishment does little to consider the nature of a crime nor its relevant severity. Someone smoking pot three times? A dealer with one pound of an illegal substance or a dealer with 300lbs of a substance? There are issues of intent and a judgment of severity. The arbitrary 3 strikes does not equate to justice. On that note I will end my part of the discussion as it is clearly a flawed argument you propose and drifts off the essential topic. I suggest you read the WDR 2009 report and note its flawed nature in relation to how it measures 'drug use' rather than 'drug abuse'. Mon 29 Jun 2009 13:01:23 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=44#comment58 58. At 1:25pm on 29 Jun 2009, Gothnet wrote:"the current approach of keeping drugs illegal is a failure and is harmful to society in itself"Hooray for common sense. Your posts on this subject are so on-the-mark, Gothnet. In general, it is not the use of any drug that causes premature death, but the quality / purity of the substance, the method of administration, and the dose itself. Regulation would address the first of these - quality control - and education would tackle the other two. Getting any drug to pass medical qualification is a mine-field of bureaucracy, but most 'recreational' drugs are already passed that point, and it is only the law that stands in the way. Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine are all drugs too, and Gothnet, you are correct to say that alcohol is a significant cause of problems in society, but because the drug is legal, it can be dealt with by society with the backing of law. Drinking is not illegal. Driving a motor vehicle whilst intoxicated with alcohol is an offence. There is distinction between the substance and action. Society recognises this. Cocaine is illegal. Use of cocaine is therefore illegal, whether driving a car or not, and there is no distinction between using the substance and acting whilst under the influence. Society is taken out of the equation and the focus of legality is shifted. As I see it, what we would all benefit from would be a level playing field. A recognition that all drugs affect how we behave, whether legalised or otherwise. How many prescription drugs carry a warning that you should avoid operating machinery as the drug can cause drowsiness? Just because the drug is legal, does not mean your actions would be above the law. Bringing all drugs into the public domain, with regulation and education to help or drive a replacement for dealing and addiction, is a logical 21st Century, non-draconian way forward. Mon 29 Jun 2009 12:57:56 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=43#comment57 #49 livingfreeadvice"Do you mean drug education in our schools would be as successful as sex education has been? [NOT] It just encourages young people to experiment I'm afraid."I'm sorry, am I reading this right, are you advocating that young people not be educated about sex? Are you aware that where this is tried the incidences of teenage pregnancy and STIs actually goes UP?Abstinence only is a failed philosophy, as is the "War on Drugs".#55 thewizI'd be willing to bet good money that, after a proper study, alcohol is found to be far more of a complicating/aggravating factor than cannibis.I'd probably take a small side-bet that alcohol and or cocktails of other drugs were involved in the cases you mention, too.That said I agree with your general point - more study of these things is a very good idea - but disagree with the proposal that we wait until then to legalise these things. The problem is this continuing idea that keeping them illegal actually has a positive effect. Actually it seems to do little to stop people that want to get hold of things from doing so, yet at the same time it fails people who get into trouble by criminalising them and making them less likely to seek help, all while funneling vast amounts of money into the criminal underworld.No, it's clear that *even if* there are aggravating effects on crime, the current approach of keeping drugs illegal is a failure and is harmful to society in itself. Mon 29 Jun 2009 12:25:07 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=42#comment56 I have to disagree - I believe drugs be it alcohol or drugs are a significant problem, more apparent in the lower socio-economic groups. Yes, it is true that all age groups are affected but it usually starts in young people With regard to education, I am sure young people are already advised of the dangers. Please do not start going into specifics with people when the issue is often the furthest thing from their mind. Mon 29 Jun 2009 12:22:04 GMT+1 U9388581 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=41#comment55 #53 HOTPEPPERMANI oftem misread posts so please don't feel criticised unduly ,but if you re-read my last paragraph of my post #41 replying to Dominangel I state that the option would always be to "skip" according to the seriousness of the "Harm". So a murder would be eligible for death as a first offence, although if the "murderer" was an effective and highly valued member of society and the "Victim" was a low life, then a one year sentence of suitable "hard" labour may be a more suitable sentence.As to belief systems, if people wish to make an appreciation of Nature into a more esoteric and formal process then I have no problem with them running around in their skimpies at the various equinox, but if they then begin to "Worship" a "Mother Nature" figure as someone who can be communicated with and who has an agenda, then that would overstep my mark re Deities and Non-human entities. I appreciate that due to insecurities people like to "Gang together" but any belief in supernatural beings always allows for " Prophets " whose interpretations have led to so much of the stupidity rampant in the world today.To those who think my posts are off topic, they have not bothered to "Think" about it; so to make it clear, doing or taking anything would not constitute an offence, your actions at all times whether "high" or not would be the single determinant of whether an offence was being committed.Sit at home listening to music at a reasonable volume while stoned, No Offence.Sit a traffic lights, windows down playing D&B at 200watts per channel, stone,cold sober, 1 year at hard labour.For health and safety reasons it would obviousley behoove the state to become either the provider of or the licencer of providers of recreation drugs in the same way that alcohol is controlled now. Mon 29 Jun 2009 12:16:55 GMT+1 thewiz http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=41#comment54 My problem with the decriminalisation of drugs is that they do seem to be involved in aggravating criminal behaviour. But before you stop reading and say 'well, if they were decriminalised people wouldn't need to commit crime to feed their habits, I am not talking about that. What I mean is that every now and then you hear of someone stabbing/ killing etc someone else and next you read 'they had been smoking cannabis prior to the crime being committed.' We had it with Meredith Kercher's death. Also with a policeman stabbed to death earlier this year.I have yet to see a statistical breakdown of which drugs are involved in which capacity in crime in the UK but I suggest that before any thought of decriminalisation that we know the facts. Mon 29 Jun 2009 11:01:39 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=40#comment53 47. At 02:04am on 29 Jun 2009, Grey_Animal wrote:"I have been using morphine for several years.....And, despite my initial concerns, I remain unaddicted"Of course, we should not forget those that use drugs for perfectly understandable medical reasons. Just because it is morphine - an opiate - just like heroin - does not detract from the fact that it is the same thing. The fact that you have avoided addiction is because it is being administered medically - the purity of the drug, the dosage allowed and so on, all contribute to help you overcome the pain whilst mitigating the risk of addiction. This is the argument for legislation to decriminalise drug use. Cannabis can also be used to aid pain relief, and doctors are, in general, unable to prescribe this drug, but they can prescribe Codeine - a hugely addictive substance if misused. We already have 3 addictive drugs in use in our society on a daily basis, Nicotine, Alcohol and Caffeine. Education means that we're all aware of them. If the currently illegal drugs were decriminalised, then regulation into safe use, to eventual reduction of dependence and therefore a reduction in overall use, would be easier to achieve. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:59:36 GMT+1 HotPepperMan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=39#comment52 #38 - Three strikes and you are out has been proven to NOT work. Your pseudo-philosophy and rather draconian approach is also somewhat 'iffy'. Similarly, the "You Will Do No Harm." sounds significantly Orwellian where 'harm' is open to interpretation. Let us see. Third speeding ticket "Off with his head". First murder, "lock him up for 1 year". It is why we have a legal system with all its strengths and weaknesses. It is there to cope with the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and of governments.Your denial of a belief system is also significantly flawed. I am an atheist. I believe there is no God. Therefore I have 'faith'. Should I instead direct my beliefs in a human form?I suspect that a troll would be more in line with your form of worship. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:42:45 GMT+1 Steve - Iver http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=38#comment51 34. At 09:30am on 27 Jun 2009, dominangel23 wrote:"I'm not a header looking for a cheap fix, I'm an ex junkie who kicked the habit and wish to see a solution which will make a difference"Firstly, mate, I want to say well done. I know, first hand, how hard it is to a), tell the world you're an ex-junkie, and b) how difficult the recovery isI kicked the habit myself almost a year ago, and have been totally clean (no more meds) since Christmas. I know no more about you than you about me, but from what you have said, it sounds like you and I agree somewhat. I have used the occasional thing along the way - not being too specific there - but I was drawn into heroin by my partner at the time. I don't blame anyone but myself - it was my curiosity, but for the benefit of anyone reading who doesn't know, heroin takes hold very very quickly. Withdrawal is hard to explain, and harder to tolerate. The knowledge that you can go out and get a fix that will get you out of the hole, for now, is enough to push you into using again, and again, and again, and again. It was an education for me. I almost lost my job, my home, and eventually I did lose my partner over all of this. I consider myself a respectable upstanding moral person - in the main (LOL - we all wear a mask eh??), but seriously, I hold down a good job, have good friends, generally enjoy life, but once you've entered this world, your self worth changes. Yes, I would love to see recreational drugs decriminalised, but in the same way as explained by dominangel23, not so as to get a cheap fix, but to help provide a solution to the problem. Education would be the next step. Once it is de-criminalised, then education is the key to moving forward. Every junkie wants to give up - they'll tell you - but few have the strength to do so alone. There are great programs run by private and NHS clinics that help, with better meds available now, but funding is needed to provide the help necessary. Psychological counselling might be needed for some addicts, whereas others have the mental will but not the physical strength and need coaching as they undergo treatment. Decriminalisation of heroin, in particular, would enable the state to ensure good quality heroin was provided to addicts, made available through licensed outlets, with a moderate tax applied that could be used towards treatment and rehabilitation (I really hate that word) of our fellow human beings. Other drugs, such as crack, coke, speed, skunk, etc., etc., all have other effects, do different things, and are addictive in different ways to many people, but none-so, in my opinion, as much as heroin. If alcohol was pushed underground, as during prohibition in the US, you'd be automatically a criminal if you were known to be drunk, no matter how you obtained the alcohol, purely because it is the alcohol that is illegal. Scrap the drug class system, legalise drug use and decriminalise the population. Then we can address the cause, effect and solution in broad daylight. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:33:46 GMT+1 HotPepperMan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=38#comment50 Hmmm. The WDR 2009 has a number of areas of significant doubt. This they openly admit. The WDR rightly includes ALL drug users and not just 'abusers'. By their own admittance, they classify a 'drug user' as someone who has used a drug "at least once" in the period of their research. This provides a very distorted view regarding how many 'drug users' there are. Additionally, much of the data used for their graphs is based on estimates and hearsay.This report would have significantly more credibility if it were to include alcohol and tobacco (both drugs). This would then put the real drug "problem" into true perspective i.e., relatively insignificant. One of the real issues is the sensationalism used in the press where there are distortions to information without true consideration for reality e.g., the THC content of cannabis increasing significantly - all that happens is users smoke less, it is easier to transport, and it is sold at an increased profit for a smaller amount.The levels of social dysfunctional behaviour and problems caused by alcohol and tobacco are statistically significantly higher and cut across all social demographics. Time for some reality checks here. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:28:46 GMT+1 Dimosthenes http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=37#comment49 Regarding poster number 5:"Even most of the youth in my area are largely monosylabic [ there are one or two exceptions] morons."Even my drug addled brain can tell you that monosyLLabic has a double L. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:17:57 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=36#comment48 Robdemac,Do you mean drug education in our schools would be as successful as sex education has been? [NOT] It just encourages young people to experiment I'm afraid. Mon 29 Jun 2009 10:01:53 GMT+1 livingFreeadvice http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=35#comment47 I think it would be a huge gamble to legalize addictive substances. Yes, distribute safely to users in pharmacies but there is surely a risk that masses of people will join the ranks. [What is wrong with our society?] Advantage to users would be the drug is exactly what it says on the label.Disadvantage is that before you could access this service to get your hands on drugs, you will be exposed to desperate dealers who sell poison [seriously impure]. Most likely customers are our young. Mon 29 Jun 2009 09:48:03 GMT+1 Grey Animal http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=35#comment46 I have been using morphine for several years. My daily intake varies from none to 100mg. The only significantly awkward effect that I've experienced is constipation, which I manage quite effectively with a high-fibre diet and occasional spoonfuls of lactulose syrup. And, despite my initial concerns, I remain unaddicted. Without morphine or an equivalently effective analgesic, my life would be one of pain, sleeplessness and misery; with it, life is, if not entirely wonderful (but whose is?), at least eminently liveable.Of course, my experience is not everyone's, but I don't think it hurts for me to stand up and say that not everyone who uses drugs fits the usual stereotype. Mon 29 Jun 2009 01:04:24 GMT+1 michaelcgreen http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=34#comment45 #45Well Gothnet lets try it then. The least it will do is stop the 90% of crimes, mainly muggings and burglery that affect people directly. Mon 29 Jun 2009 00:00:30 GMT+1 Ernie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=33#comment44 #44 michaelgreenIt may surprise you to know that heroin addicts, given a clean and measured supply, can be quite functional.Habitual users will not die in a few months because once impurities, shared needles and accidental overdose are eliminated, it turns out the the physical effects of the drug don't kill people with any great haste.It ruins their lives and makes them its slave, sure, it's a horrible thing, but this pseudo-Darwinist notion that if we make drugs freely available then all the users will just die out is a bit of a nonsense. Sun 28 Jun 2009 23:44:54 GMT+1 michaelcgreen http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=32#comment43 I think all drugs, especially class A should be free and universally available. Then occasional users should be OK and they will not help the criminal fraternity which should die out, also freeing the police to combat undrug related crime. The habitual users should die out within 6 months due to huge overdoseses.That leaves police to concentrate on real crime, hospitals and medical services to concentrate their money and expertise on real ill people. Councils to concentrate their and our money on sensible things not drug clinics and injection centres.All in all it will be a great idea for 99.9% of the population. Sun 28 Jun 2009 22:24:19 GMT+1 Osgoodwasgood http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=32#comment42 Those who say that it is too risky to try a mass experiment in providing addicts with their drugs are ignorant of the fact that we have already done so. After the First World war we ended up with tens of thousands of morphiate addicts as a result of treating battlefield injuries with the drug. These men were provided with the drugs for the rest of their lives and lived productive responsible lives at all levels within our society. So why the debate? Sun 28 Jun 2009 21:21:01 GMT+1 KerrBrian http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=31#comment41 Decriminalization is not going to remove the violence and crime problems with prohibition.Consider this.Using drugs is not immoral or bad, it's a human right.Vast majority of drug users don't have problems with them. That means there is no drug problem and there never was one.Drug users are going to use drugs they wont stop because of prohibition on drugs.Decriminalization will still leave the black market, No body can control the black market now. What makes us think it can be controlled if drugs were decriminalized.Drug users are required to purchase their drugs. That money under prohibition will go to organized crime. In a regulated market that money goes to business and government. Ask your self where would you like the money to go ?We have to control drug use in a regulated market with in a legal framework. Legalization of all drugs in necessary.I will not vote for a prohibitionist politician. Sun 28 Jun 2009 15:59:05 GMT+1 U9388581 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=30#comment40 DOMINANGELI thought that I had made it clear that this would apply to ALL offences committed by whoever. As an addendum I would double the penalties for any officer of the courts, i.e Police, solicitors , judges etc, as they should be beyond reproach.As to your Vicar, I actually enjoy the sound of Bells for SHORT periods, but under my regime the practice of or adherence to, all religions, cults, sects involving any form of non-human or supernatural being would be proscribed as a criminal activity penalised as per my previous post.I would like to instigate a criminal code consisting of only one law.You Will Do No Harm.Let a jury or well selected magistrate or judge decide what harm is on the facts available. the sentencing would have all three tariffs available 1 year or straight to 7 years or for the obvious, straight to the death penalty. I admire simplicity and it suits the population so well. Sun 28 Jun 2009 15:32:55 GMT+1 dominangel23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=29#comment39 WEll SAID, Mr Occamist. It's heartwarming to say the least, to see that the Draconian Society fo Civil Liberties is still thriving. I do however take offence to simply singling out drug users for your excellent clean up laws. There are many offences committed each day which would benefit from a tougher stance such as yours. Let's take parking offences for example, perhaps a third double parking ticket should see the offender stood inside a tube of old car tyres and then publicly burned in the town square after having to watch their spouse and offspring being disembowelled with a jagged parking meter. Shoplifting could be dealt with by having Sainsburys fondeau cheese poured down the offenders throat at boiling point whereafter they are rolled down steep hills on bank holidays for the locals to chase after. I look forward to entering into correspondence with your good self to discuss the possibilities of having our local vicar castigated in a suitable manner for continually ringing his bells at an offensive hour each sunday morning. I have in fact contemplated having him hung, drawn, and quartered but have my doubts due to its lack of severity. Yours sincerely. Vlad the Impailer. Sun 28 Jun 2009 09:57:52 GMT+1 Chris R D http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=29#comment38 Let the druggies, drunks and faggers enjoy their addictions; just don't ask me to pay for cleaning up the mess and healthcare. Sun 28 Jun 2009 09:36:51 GMT+1 U9388581 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=28#comment37 Behaviour is what distresses people.The use of drugs alters behaviour.If, under the influence of any substance or not, you BEHAVE wrongly then you should be severely punished.I don't mind people taking intoxicants of any kind, but if you then BEHAVE in an anti -social way then you should be flogged within an inch of your life or beyond.Behaviour; i.e your actions are your interface with the world.The various reports of problems with children taking drugs always mention as symptoms the stealing, abuse both physical and verbal as well as a whole range of other unacceptable behaviours.Punish those BEHAVIOURS draconionaly.1st offence ONE year at Extremely Hard Labour.2nd Offence SEVEN years ditto.3rd Offence Death.This would obviously apply to all offences, without mitigation or appeal.No matter what ones upbringing, circumstances or health the law is there to protect the decently behaving from the predations and discomfiture caused by the dysfunctional.Three " mistakes" is enough, not the daily litany of " Joe Bloggs with 157 convictions for...." sentenced to 18 months supervision order and mandatory Drug reporting.Three convictions for any illegal act denotes "Habitual Criminality", We as a race do not know how to "Cure" such recidivist and therefore our only protection is their execution/State Murder whatever you want to call it.Under these proscriptions I would have been at risk of death myself in my younger days, but still believe that this Monochrome/occamist approach is reductively the only way given our present development. Sat 27 Jun 2009 23:56:14 GMT+1 Rob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=27#comment36 I beleive that our political class are so scared of addressing the drugs issue that they just let it go on the way it does. I think decriminalisation is a must, and that should lead to legalisation. It could be taxed well and controlled a lot better than now. However, I think before any of that we will need some solid education in schools. Forget the 'just say no' route, our kids are not stupid, they deserve to be told information about the substances that float around their neighbourhoods. Sat 27 Jun 2009 20:57:52 GMT+1 Labourphobic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=26#comment35 Finally a common sense statement! Let's hope politicians globally now act. But add to that if the drugs themselves were decrimilinised in as much as available via a pharmacy/surguery rather than the black market the criminal element would be denied access to a significant source of funds. Sat 27 Jun 2009 09:31:05 GMT+1 Euforiater http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=25#comment34 Re:jon112uk :"I recall the period when the police unilaterally decided to decriminalise cannabis in South London and we got the impression that everything was great. It was only later that it came out that some/many local people were up in arms about the crime and disorder, but their views had not been reported."- "crime and disorder" in this case will mean people smoking spliffs on the street. And it's ridiculous to suggest that any problems with decriminalisation of cannabis would not be reported, the tabloid press has waged a war on cannabis use for years and will use ANY excuse to badmouth decriminalisation. The all-out assault on cannabis by the tabloids last year was a deliberate (and successful) attempt to pressurise the government into upgrading the classification of cannabis against medical opinion. Read the UKCMD report if you don't believe me. Your comments show how easily people can be deceived into believing this rubbish. "A similar situation could be suggested regarding Holland. I thought for years everything was very smooth, it was only recently that I found out some Dutch people disagreed with it and complained about problems."- SOME people will always complain about problems whenever anything changes. The main driving force behind the backlash in Holland though comes from be the fact that decriminalisation in Holland is visibly working and it's an embarrassment to other countries' failing cannabis policies. Or if you read this link, perhaps these complaints are by the soon-to-be-out-of-work Dutch prison warders:http://www.nrc.nl/international/article2246821.ece/Netherlands_to_close_prisons_for_lack_of_criminals Sat 27 Jun 2009 09:27:13 GMT+1 dominangel23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=25#comment33 Drug use will continue whatever the legislation whether it be recreational use or addictive use. The only answer is to take out the criminal factor, IE the dealers and traffickers. Governments should turn the policing financial losses into a profit by legalizing the process where users can buy their substances legally from pharmacies at a reasonable market price. (Cheaper than the dealers price). The drug cartels will soon be hit by a loss of revenue and since it will no longer be such a lucrative business, will soon disappear from our street corners. The two fold gain in this will be that the Govt will have a revenue stream which can be ploughed into decent counselling for addicts and further education against the use of drugs, and also that drugs being sold "Legally" over the counter can be garanteed to be of a quality that is safe for consumption, (no more heroin being cut with pan scourer).No, I'm not a header looking for a cheap fix, I'm an ex junkie who kicked the habit and wish to see a solution which will make a difference. however small. Drug users are not criminals but generally victims of circumstance. The drug cartels and the dealers are the criminals and by taking them out of the ring we will be on a road that could "maybe" lead somewhere where all may benefit. WcW Sat 27 Jun 2009 08:30:14 GMT+1 John1948 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=24#comment32 5 LeorovermanThere are lots of things wrong with our society (and lots that are really good if you care to look), but to lay the blame on the Labour Party is to show a total lack of understanding of the major influences on our nation.Political parties in our liberal democracy do not have major influence on the social changes that we experience. Their influence is measurable, but quite small. Try looking at the big picture Sat 27 Jun 2009 07:37:41 GMT+1 theelectricwarrior http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/06/give_drug_users_a_break.html?page=23#comment31 As a retired police officer I have long recognised that the battle against drugs is one the police or society in general cannot win. People have used drugs for recreational purposes for thousands of years all over the world. Where there is a demand there will always be a supply and people willing to take risks to supply the demand. It's all about greed. The best we can do is decriminalise, educate and regulate. Hopefully (drug fuelled)acquisitive crime will drop and money saved from NHS and Social Services and Police and Prison budgets amongst others, hopefully enough to make our schools and hospitals perform better. I don't pretend to know the figures but common sense tells me that throwing resources at it will not solve this problem. There are many people who are drug users and also useful and productive members of society. Alcohol related crime is far more prevalent.To newprotectorcromwell I would say that religion has caused more trouble and strife to people and communities all over the world than drugs and alcohol ever have. Fri 26 Jun 2009 23:57:52 GMT+1