Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html en-gb 30 Sat 23 Aug 2014 03:47:25 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html ChangeOfState http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=97#comment47 In an earlier comment on "Have Your Say" I argued that we should treat drug use like the public health problem it is, rather than as a crime. It's perfectly clear that personal drug use is not stopped by criminalising it at home, attempting to cut off production at the source, or interdicting its flow from country to country. A "war on drugs" approach, such as has been attempted in the US, serves only to clog the criminal justice system while creating staggering profits for the drug lords. These profits, in turn, make it possible for drug dealers to compromise customs officials, police departments and the courts and effectively intimidate those who would stand up to them. Rather than this approach, we should legalise, regulate and heavily tax drug use and use the tax flow for drug treatment and public education. Wed 10 Sep 2008 18:12:23 GMT+1 herbmanbob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=95#comment46 A doctors work load would not increase methadone to heroin same customers.girls and women wont be selling themselves under fear of not just being able to get fixed but violance for not paying the pimps habit as well.Other end of the world and same problem 3rd world farmers and others living in total poverty and fear through the drug trade would be lifted paid well and be able to afford the quality of life we take as a right.Its not just about what is deem right its what is deemed moral. As a drug user myself I feal very sad for the sufferance of others through this trade that is no different to anyother substance or food we enjoy but in the case of drugs the entire chain of human demand and supply is deemed wrong, what are the actual grounds of this prohabition?can this prohabition be considered an abuse of human rights?Prohabition protects drugs through fear the same fear that is used to dissuade use of drugs.prohabition segragates a minority group and forces them to cooperate through fear. This is a direct breach of ECHR on many counts. If a religious group were treated in the same way.... Tue 09 Sep 2008 22:35:24 GMT+1 SteveRolles http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=93#comment45 Lois - no one is suggesting that moving towards legally regulated markets would stop addiction or all drug related harm, but it would largely address the secondary problems caused or exacerbated by illegal markets. It would also free up resources that could be redirected into what you rightfully identify as the core of the isse - addressing the various underlying social problems that are the root cause of most problematic use. Prohibition is an institutional as well as intellectual obstacle for politicians to do this. It acts as a smoke screen - they just blame 'drugs' and declare a meaningless war against them, rather than look at the reasons why people chose to misuse them in the first place. Tue 09 Sep 2008 21:51:23 GMT+1 herbmanbob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=91#comment44 This is about human rights more than addiction in the big picture of drugs,good points doc but as you say they are the end result of a system that has failed.people need to look beyond the addict to the cause and affect of illegal drugs. Untill these problems are faced then the addict is the only face of street drugs. Tue 09 Sep 2008 07:07:57 GMT+1 loispaton http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=89#comment43 There are some very interesting points coming out here. As a doctor though, I have to dispute the point that 'Legalising heroin, for example, would allow doctors to prescribe it to addicts during the rehabilitation process. many users would therefore not be connected to street dealers and would not need to commit crime to fund their habit.'I think many doctors would find this ethically difficult, and our workload no doubt would increase exponentially.I think that there are deeper issues here beyond just the legality (or not) of drugs. If we have a large drug and alcohol problem in our society, legalising it is not going to make the problem go away. Alcohol bought in pubs and shops is pure but alcoholics still drink (and die from) meths because it's a cheaper alternative.We need to address the underlying issues in society that have brought about the drug and alcohol problems in the first place, and this is a much less tangible and more difficult thing, and not a vote winner either. As our society has begun to fragment, the individual has become more important than society and relationships, and the rights of the individual appear to supercede those of wider society. I believe that there are many underlying reasons for the drug and alcohol issues that we now face and that breakdown in society has been one of the primary causes for an increase in drug and alcohol usage and drug and alcohol related crime.Having treated many alcoholics and drug users for their substance related problems, (call me an idealist if you like), but surely the issue here is not the legality, but addressing the root causes for drug and alcohol use, and drug and alcohol related crime? If drug and alcohol users felt a more integral and important part of society instead of feelings of worthlessness, guilt, depression, and everything else that inevitably goes along with these things, perhaps, just maybe, the usage would finally drop.Lois Paton, GP. Tue 09 Sep 2008 03:03:55 GMT+1 tomireland http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=87#comment42 I feel there is only one avenue of protest over this nonsense, as a tax payer i object to this enormous waste of resources. Legalize all drugs, tax them but ensure there is real and proper advice as to what is in them, the dosages and the effects.Sorry, i do realize it's a lot to ask of a morally bankrupted government who's only purpose appears to fronting for big business. Mon 08 Sep 2008 18:36:40 GMT+1 herbmanbob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=85#comment41 gah..41. At 1:11pm on 08 Sep 2008, herbmanbobThis comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.Thought we were talking about drugs and why and how things will and are changing...google LCA then goto thinktank on the forum.read the 1st thread Attacking Prohibition- after Neil Morgan's case. The are draft letters in there to challange the current laws.stops drama like the 3 year old growing herb for her dad in liverpool. Mon 08 Sep 2008 12:32:18 GMT+1 herbmanbob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=83#comment40 This post has been Removed Mon 08 Sep 2008 12:11:35 GMT+1 herbmanbob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=81#comment39 Some one needs to set up a brass ball shop first with a few BOGOF's for this to work.The possative aspects must be brought forward and not the negative all the time.If we legalise drugs we can drop fuel VAT...We can fund more health care more schools .... Why should criminals take my money? why should i give my money to them? Because I have no choice in the matter. The drug industry will have mass support whoever owns it. who owns drugs owns the streets of this country and every country in the drug trail.As it stands both the public and the drug user are treated like a black man in a court run by the Cru Clux Clan.they are both needed and hated for who they are.I see we did a good job making more opium from less crops this year again the heroin increases and our shores will be further flooded. 48-50 tons our useage will be for the next year 36 tons last year. Sun 07 Sep 2008 18:46:40 GMT+1 hlmch2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=79#comment38 I found this article worth reading,"The UK control and drugs treatment mafia has been a disaster."http://www.organizedrage.com/2008/09/uk-control-and-drugs-treatment-mafia.html Fri 05 Sep 2008 22:18:36 GMT+1 orissacube http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=77#comment37 WHy is it that every indicator shows that Cannabis use fell since downgrading. And yet people say drug use will rocket if it is regulated and controlled. How many of you out there not currently using heroin cocaine or cannabis are going to run out there and buy it.Most indicators show that those people who wish to use durgs do so now. What Prohibtion does is increase the damage drugs do by leaving the supply in the hands of gangsters.And it damages society by the associated crime it fuels and the billions we waste that could be spent on something far better for society in Policing it.IIt is estimated that we spend around £18 billion on justice/police/prisons and give around £5 billion to organised crime in pure profit. £20 billion saved each year can do a lot of good for the all of society and provide rehabilitation to those whose use falls into abuse.THe problen we have is that the Public have been sold a lot of horse manure about drugs and need to be informed that Politicians haver lied to and failed us on drug policy for the last 40 years. It takes a brave person to admit they were wrong and I don't see many brave politicians out there admitting that. Fri 05 Sep 2008 18:12:33 GMT+1 SteveRolles http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=75#comment36 stroz - in a legal scenario where the state can determine the regulatory structures, rather than criminal profiteers, we have the ability to determine how different drugs are made available and to whom. By deploying differential levels of regulation - stricter for more dangerous drugs / preparations, less strict for lower dose / safer drugs preparations it is possible to shift patterns of use away from the higher risk preparations/drugs/behaviours that are actively encouraged by a profit driven illict market. Combine these interventions with enforcement resources redirected into prevention, treatment and intervention and you have the possibility to dramatically reduce drug related harms and foster social norms about responsible use that cannot develop in an underground illicit drug scene.No system will be perfect ofcourse drug misuse and some degree of illict activity will always be with us, but it is hard to imagine a set up worse then the current criminal anarchy for creating crime, havoc and misery. This debate is about pragmatic choices rooted in reality, rather than a Utopian fantasy of a drug free society. Fri 05 Sep 2008 17:18:09 GMT+1 StroszekBassist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=72#comment35 This idea that, upon legalisation, the sale of heroin and its ilk would be tightly controlled doesn't quite wash with me. The idea that it would only be available on prescription, for instance, puzzles me. If this is the case, how would one go about getting the prescription in the first place? It is unlikely to be prescribed for any illnesses I can think of, so presumably it would be prescribed to heroin addicts. But this then begs the question: how did they get addicted in the first place?The most obvious answer (and the only logical one I can think of) would be that they got it from the black market. Which, err, is what happens now. Except that once you're hooked, you would then get free heroin from the state, who would then fund your attempts to quit (which, again, is what happens now, except methadone instead of heroin). Who got you the initial supply to get you hooked? Drug pushers perhaps? But if their client base leaves them once they can get a prescription, they're going to need to find new clients more often - just as the tobacco industry has had to do as more people quit smoking.It just doesn't work. Unless it's freely available, there will always be some criminal element to it, and even ignoring that there's the questions about age limits etc. At what age would people be deemed responsible enough to ruin their lives? Fri 05 Sep 2008 13:43:52 GMT+1 bluest-man http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=70#comment34 willsmac wrote "And we are not going to legalize all drugs - there will always be more dangerous ones, and presumably people will move to them?"People don't "move" to dangerous drugs any more than a wine drinker moves to meths by choice. It is the way the profits are driven by the pushers. Free tablet/wrap for a regular followed by "out of stock of the usual .. but I have a couple of tablets/wraps you tried last week same money..." Remember they aren't "drug dealers" out there on the street they are PUSHERS.Legalisation has to apply to all drugs, control use of individual agents with taxation, price and access. A couple of (old strength) joints buy at the off licenceA line of coke buy at the PharmacyCrack and Smack buy that at your police station ... legal but imagine the nerve required and it would put the shopping back into the cop shop! Fri 05 Sep 2008 12:48:55 GMT+1 schmonks http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=68#comment33 The parallels drawn between the potential level of use of currently illegal drugs and the use of cigarettes and alcohol are not valid. Legalising all drugs should not translate to them being ubiquitous and available from every local shop and supermarket, but rather from tightly controlled government run outlets. Furthermore, the pervasive use of cigarettes and alcohol has more to do with the huge advertising budgets that portray (or have portrayed) their use as being positive lifestyle choices. It should go without saying that any newly legalised substances should be subject to a full advertising ban (unless it is on the dangers). Incidentally, this should also be extended to alcohol as has been the case with cigarettes.Whether drug use in society would increase is a valid concern. To answer it we could ask what factors currently limit hard drug use - availability, price or individual self control? As I don't believe the first two factors have a great influence, do we have reason to be so concerned by the legalisation option? Fri 05 Sep 2008 05:52:33 GMT+1 SteveRolles http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=66#comment32 but millbrook - if more people are using skunk , or the harms associated with it are increasing under the current regime, how is that an endorsement for continuing it? The drug horror stories that we are bombarded with in the media strike me as a striking condemnation of current policy, not a reason to support it. I think it's important not to confuse the debate about harms associated with drug use with the debate about what the appropriate response to those harms should be. The basis of the call for a debate on alternative approaches (public heath/regulation rather than criminal justice/punishment), is an objective analysis of the comprehensive failure of the current prohibitionist approach to achieve any of its stated goals. Thu 04 Sep 2008 23:19:45 GMT+1 Millbrookblue http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=64#comment31 Can't argue with the stats that some guys have clarified, but recent usage in society is hardly a good benchmark . My point is that 25+ years ago when I was in my late teens regular usage was largely restricted to students . I saw it regularly and indulged myself at uni but almost never saw anyone of my age outside college making much use of it - certainly very rare in my summer jobs at the time . Nowadays drug usage by working class lads is commonplace and my experience is that they don't use it in the same way but more intensively leading to loss of jobs etc . In my own family over the last few years I have seen for those younger than me a direct relationship between increasing cannabis consumption and failing work , social and personal relationships. Less skunk = happier , healthier, go-ahead lads. Thu 04 Sep 2008 21:06:59 GMT+1 Dave H http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=62#comment30 I'd say the solution is to legalise various drugs, tax them (as with tobacco and alcohol) and bring in a few laws about responsibility while using drugs, so that users under the influence can be held to account for any actions, possibly with more severe penalties. That gives people the right to do what they want provided it doesn't affect others. It might also be worth requiring that drug use (and subsequent recovery) should only take place on private property with the permission of the owner. Properly controlled, it ought to result in less cost to society as a whole if crime goes down and the drug users keep off the streets while under the influence. Thu 04 Sep 2008 20:31:05 GMT+1 Rob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=60#comment29 #23:"drugs such as cannabis perhaps would be, but hard drugs such as heroin would be highly restricted, not in your local supermarket - being legal would take the money out of the dealers' pockets and allow addicts to receive better treatment"If the hard drugs are are to be highly restricted, then why would there be any reason for casual users to get them legally, when presumably the illegal dealers will continue to offer them on request?Personally, although I abhor cannabis for its tendency to turn perfectly reasonable adults into gibbering idiots, it is harmless enough to justify legalisation. Heroin and cocaine are not. Any argument in favour of legalisation of drugs needs to recognise that there should still be boundaries. Thu 04 Sep 2008 20:23:35 GMT+1 thinker7 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=58#comment28 are you all a bunch of barristers with good but long winded arguments.simple IF i meet a drug addict in the street he may be damaging himself but he is not going to damage me Unless he needs money to pay his dealer.Then he will rob, steal,burgle friends family and me to get the money to pay his dealer.If he could get a free prescription from the chemist he woulda not damage me or my propertyb be monitered to control/prevent him damaging himself and be encouraged to quit.I come from a sales background and would love to have aproduct that that i could buy cheap, sell high to a controlable customer base that desires my product on a regular basis throughout their lifetime, i would give away free samples target the young,groom contacts in schools, have a forbidden fruit advertising campaign,franchise system, network marketing,word of mouth ,repeat business etc TAKE AWAY THE PROFIT MOTIVE FROM DRUG DEALING AND CRIME WOULD FALL BY HALF Thu 04 Sep 2008 19:30:48 GMT+1 Peter Palladas http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=56#comment27 Free dope eh?"Wow, yeah, far out man. Cool." An Old Hippie rejoices.But the only law that matters here is the Law of Unintended Consequences. More Mad Max than Jane Austen is my prediction."Totally bad vibe man."An Old Hippie reflects. Thu 04 Sep 2008 19:16:20 GMT+1 SteveRolles http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=54#comment26 Thereb are a number of misconceptions need to be challenged in the popular dscourse about drug law reform. 'Legalisation' is a process and does not specify a policy end point. This leads to substantial problems with the debate around alternatives to prohibition with the void in understanding being filled with exotic misconceptions such as those portrayed by Oliver, about 'legal' drugs being freely available, usually conjuring up frankly images of heroin and crack being available in sweet shops or school vending machines.In fact the reform position is somewhat different to and more sophisticated than that. Although there are some libertarian advocates who do indeed advocate a market forces only model they are a small minority and seen as an extreme and unhelpful position by the majority of reformers who advocate strict regulation and control of the drugs market, within a legal framework.Such a system would involve a spectrum of regulatory models being deployed for different drugs in different environments - ranging from maintaining absolute prohibition for some drugs or preparations (such as crack), through prescription medical models (as we already have for opiates and amphetamines), pharmacist dispensary models, licensed vendors and licensed premises. In addition to these models can be introduced a range of additional controls as appropriate, most of which are already familiar in other arenas of social and public health policy. These include, price controls, packaging controls, controls on locations of consumption, age of purchaser controls, hours of opening, controls on marketing and promotion, controls on intoxication of purchaser, tracking of purchases/purchasers, volume rationing, delay between purchase and pick up, licensing of users/purchaser (potentially linked to a test or risk education / training program), conditional membership of a group or club to allow access, and so on.These are precisely the sorts of public health based interventions and controls that are impossible when market control has been abdicated to violent criminal profiteers as happens under the rigid prohibitionist system we have at present for most (but obviously not all) drugs. How such interventions will work in practice, and how they can be optimised to produce the best public health and criminal justice outcomes is what we need to be discussing.We need to remind ourselves that drugs are freely available now, under the current anarchic criminal infrastructure. Anyone who wants to use them can and does, and there is no evidence to suggest the law acts as a deterrent, especially for the populations most vulnerable to problematic use.Whilst demand remains high (and we need to accept this reality, at least in the short to medium term) and the profit opportunity remains, history shows clearly that there is nothing enforcement can do other than make this situation more dirty, dangerous and violent. This is no fault of the police, it is the fundamental failure of prohibition. Thu 04 Sep 2008 19:03:06 GMT+1 jayfurneaux http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=52#comment25 The people of Switzerland voted in a referendum to allow the state to supply heroin to long term addicts. It was a recognition that attempts to rehabilitate were failing (many addicts go through rehabs several times, over many years, before finally getting clean, there are always many more addicts than rehab places or funding), to cut the level of street crime by addicts to fund their addiction and to start taking economic control away from the criminals.The growth in gang culture and associated violence is mainly fuelled by the profits from drug trafficking. Many low educated youngsters see selling drugs (and the associated extortion and pimping) as easy, risk free, money.Risk free? It largely is; a clever dealer is never caught – if at all - with more than a tiny amount on them. Mobiles arrange a selling point, the dealer has exactly the right amount in his mouth (in small cling film `bags`) so they can be spat or swallowed at the first sight of police. They constantly move around, bully addicts or youngsters into selling for them to pay off `debts`. The main risk is from other dealers in turf wars. The drug trade operates on credit right down the supply chain, it breeds violence over unpaid debts.Drug selling is certainly profitable. Even if convicted dealers can control their markets from inside prison through associates. Drug dealers provoke burglary, prostitution etc because they often supply drugs, crack especially, on credit to addicts, then demand payment within, say, 12 hours; interest is charged by the hour for lateness, for complaining. The addict then sets off on a desperate crime spree; heroin addicts can need up to three fixes a day. I have heard of £45 per hour `interest` being levied. This is backed up by very real violence. No addict will report it, because of retaliation and they rely on dealers for drug supply.The main health risks for addicts (particularly those skinny, ragged youngsters we see on our streets) is malnutrition; they never have much money for food; the risk of infection from sharing needles (heroin addicts aren`t fussy when suffering withdrawal), infection from abscesses, the risk of overdosing or injecting heroin cut with anything from brick dust to bleach. Many of these kids have been through the care system since infants, have little literacy or recognisable life skills, many of the girls will have been abused as children and so on. Their lives are a cycle of drugs, debt, crime, prison, homelessness; drugs, debt, crime, prison, homelessness and so on.Women that work as street prostitutes, of course, face the threat of violence from `punters`; extreme cases make the papers each year when yet another body is found. Families are broken apart; those that don`t throw out addicted children can end up bankrupting themselves by helping them pay debts to avoid violence. Hope is all some families have, often that hope is shattered.The drug trade affects all of us. Be it fear of street crime, burglaries, shoplifting, insurance rates, the growth of gang culture, gun and knife violence, the resulting decay of areas, our overflowing prisons, the growth of those `socially excluded` by involvement in drugs or crime and so on.There is no easy solution. Prohibition isn`t working. Total legalisation, a market free for all, probably isn`t the answer either, but other approaches have to be tried. But the economics (and profits) are the fuel; the only strategy that has a hope is wresting economic control away from the gangsters.But a question for you all. There is hostility towards paying benefits to those unwilling to work; what would the public think of tax money being used to supply drugs to addicts? Many of whom will be reluctant to become clean (drug addiction is deeply psychological); cut off their supply, they just go back to the gangsters and crime. There`s a lot to be thought through, but I support the Swiss approach with regard to heroin and crack.PS: I`ve worked as a voluntary drug worker. Thu 04 Sep 2008 18:23:23 GMT+1 sweetalkinguy http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=50#comment24 "Legalising" drugs does not open up a new stream of taxation; that is a moronic idea. If there is any point to changing the legal status of recreational substances, it is to make them available at a price which undercuts any worthwhile price for unlawful suppliers. That means a price very little above the cost of production and distribution. Imposing a tax opens up a window of opportunity for illegal suppliers. They will be able to undercut the official price and make a profit, and they will already have a sophisticated production and distribution system to take advantage. The raw material is a vegetable product - dirt cheap to produce - the high price is artificially-imposed by the middlemen. Booze and baccy are legal in this country, but organised criminals are making millions out of smuggling it from lower-tax countries into the UK and by-passing the Customs man. Legalising + taxing is a formula for "no change", or more likely, making the case worse.There is no question of "legalisation" in the sense of "anything goes". The stuff will be available, but only from licensed and regulated outlets. Heroin-users will need to use proper clinics, which will have rehabilitation as an equally-important part of their function. Thirty years ago, the NHS was doing this, it was based at psychiatric hospitals, but under Mrs T's "care in the community" policy which saw schizophrenics on the streets unsupervised, the clinics were all shut down, and now they have been recycled as blocks of flats. Cannabis presumably will be sold in standard-strength tablets or syrup manufactured to an official BP standard, possibly "branded" or "own-label" at Tesco or Superdrug. The consumer will not risk buying products which do not meet the standard. Similar will apply to manufactured products such as amphetamines. Cocaine will be more difficult to regulate in a legal framework. However, stuff like crystal meth will remain illegal. One of the drivers of the market in recreational substances is the ingenuity of organised criminals to develop and market new products. That is why junkies shoot heroin, wheras Sherlock Holmes used to frequent opium dens. If criminals are deprived of their profits, then they will not have the resources to develop new products. They will not have the incentive for the kind of high-pressure salesmanship which propels many prospects into clients. If criminals do not make the stuff, there will be little need for anybody else to make it - nobody makes a living selling home-brewed and/or distilled liquor. There will still be addicts - the propensity for addictive behaviour is intrinsic to personality, and it is now known that this is inbred genetically. The problem for society is to recognise that there is such a thing as addictive behaviour - it is not simply a matter of whether or not the stuff is easily available - and formulating policies to minimise the effects that the behaviour of addicts has upon society as a whole. Legal sanction is part of the answer, but not the whole answer, or even necessarily the major part of it.If you look at sources such as Martindales Pharmacopea, it is clear that the effects of recreational drugs upon the user are less in many cases than the effects of tobacco and alcohol. One never hears of doped-up smackheads rampaging around causing aggro. The fact that their effects are not as serious as popular demonology supposes is no reason to consider the prospect of changing the legal framework for recreational substances any more favourably.The fact is that for many addicts the pain of doing without a supply is far greater than the pain involved in selling your body to pay for it. That is the reality which society has to embrace when formulating an all-round policy to deal with the problems. Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:56:10 GMT+1 stwl http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=47#comment23 Ultimately it comes down to this: can the public be trusted with legal drugs? Will we end up with more casual users but only a handful of problem cases, or will 40% of the population become constantly befuddled good-for-nothing junkies? Probably the former, but perhaps we should proceed with caution. Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:52:08 GMT+1 tarquin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=45#comment22 #20 - legalisation does not mean freely availabledrugs such as cannabis perhaps would be, but hard drugs such as heroin would be highly restricted, not in your local supermarket - being legal would take the money out of the dealers' pockets and allow addicts to receive better treatment Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:36:39 GMT+1 AdeJones http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=43#comment21 I'd comment on this article, but I have a serious attack of the munchies to attend to first ;-) Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:18:45 GMT+1 MonkeyBot 5000 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=41#comment20 #14 Millbrookblue"Nice idea but there is a problem - Downgrading cannabis has already led to an explosion in use, "Actaully, there was a drop in use after it was reclassified to C and Holland has even less cannabis use then we do.Always be wary of reports of an explosion in anything other than a bomb. Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:01:54 GMT+1 my_comments http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=39#comment19 I can see most here are keen to legalise drugs.While I can see there is a lot of truth in the fact that prohibition increases crime I worry a LOT about the consequences of hard and very, very addictive drugs being freely available.Sure cannabis is relatively harmless but heroin is very addictive and because the effect reduces over time more and more is needed to get that "big hit".So yes legalising it will mean less criminal activity in the supply of heroin but I suspect we can expect to see a massive rise of addicts and costs to the NHS.If it is legalised it needs to be very carefully controlled. Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:50:30 GMT+1 Jaknet http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=37#comment18 @Millbrookblue Sorry to say, but your comment about "Downgrading cannabis has already led to an explosion in use," is not the case and in fact the amount of users has DROPPED since is was lowered to a class C drugQuote from the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/oct/26/drugsandalcohol.homeaffairsofficial figures showed the decision to downgrade the drug had been followed by a significant fall in its use.British Crime Survey statistics showed that the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds using cannabis slumped from 28% a decade ago to 21% now, with its declining popularity accelerating after the decision to downgrade the drug to class C was announced in January 2004. Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:48:05 GMT+1 HardWorkingHobbes http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=35#comment17 #14I don't agree that legalisising pot will greatly increase it's usage, it's very easy to get hold of in most cities so anyone that desperately wants it can get it.I will agree there would be some increase in casual use due to the extra supply but would this be a bad thing?Most drugs don't interact well with alcohol so a lot of people would choose to do one or the other in the evening. So any increase in drug usage would be met with a reduction in alcohol usage.Which would you perfer as a neighbour a loud violent drunk or a sleepy stoner?btw. I'm a casual user, got a degree, respectable job, passed profesional qualifications so not all of us meet with your experiences Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:45:24 GMT+1 SorryTone http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=33#comment16 This is "blindingly obvious"! Imagine the hit that the Taliban would take if the Heroin trade was a legal crop there.What would organised criminals be left with - prostitution and illegal imigration?If the only place where it was unavailable was in jail - would that make it more of a deterent?Also - who has vested interests in the trade continuing to be illegal? The police, the judiciary Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:43:34 GMT+1 Joe Foster http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=31#comment15 There is a huge amount of crime connected to teh illegal drugs trade. mostly sholifting, theft, handling stolen goods, etc...Hard drug addicts steal to fund their habit because they can not often get employment. Legalising heroin, for example, would allow doctors to prescribe it to addicts during the rehabilitation process. many users would therefore not be connected to street dealers and would not need to commit crime to fund their habit.The poor health of addicts is also not related to the fact that they are using but the fact that what they are being sold varies widely in quality. Dealers react to market forces by cutting the drugs with all sorts of harmful substances.Healthy addicts are more likely to be able to reduce or quit.Yes there will still be members of the public who overuse drugs just as there are those who drink far too much whilst knowing the risks.One factor in overdoses can be the user not understanding how much of a drug they have taken. Taking illegal drugs can be like not knowing if you have been drinking a pint of beer or a pint of vodka until after you have drunk it. Legal drugs would mean that users realise what they are consuming.There is a good story of the history of heroin prohibition on www.flatearthnews.net for anyone who want to read up on the subject. Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:28:04 GMT+1 xraspecs http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=29#comment14 I don't regard these views as being wacky at all. Alcohol and Tobacco both share many of the characteristics of illegal drugs, but are legal and regulated and consumption of Tobacco, at least, is falling.The violence associated with the drugs trade is a consequence of it being a (very large) business that has nor recourse to conventional legal measures to resolve disputes.It is not subject to any product safety legislation.It is subject to no employment legislation.It pays no taxes.The drug trade exists to satisfy a huge demand for recreational drugs. People want to do this. As with gambling, it may not be a wise thing to do - but ultimately if they want to do this - it is not up to me, you or the Government to stop them - and we clearly can't stop them anyway. Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:22:01 GMT+1 Millbrookblue http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=27#comment13 Nice idea but there is a problem - Downgrading cannabis has already led to an explosion in use, much as loosening of licensing hours and cheaper alcohol (in real terms) has resulted in a huge increase in binge drinking. Therefore legalising drugs will see a huge uptake in usage . My generation dabbled in 'pot' , but mainly just drank beer and smoked ciggies , but went to work/college . I know from family experience that current teenage lads who instead smoke skunk , and binge on shots etc , are generally listless , jobless and a drain on society, not to mention frequently very aggressive and in trouble with the police. Legalising drugs will just increase the problem. Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:04:20 GMT+1 glastoyo http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=25#comment12 Of course drugs should be legalised, but its too risky for any politician to suggest, but what I'd like to point out is that at the moment our drug laws are even more strict than parts of america. I've recently come back from california where anyone can get a medical card, for any legitimate excuse, from stress to PMT (both of which canabis does help) buy weed in a shop, smoke safely in the comfort of their own home while the govenment is getting the taxes off it but it is still tecnical "illegal" to please the more conservative voters - good system i'd say! Thu 04 Sep 2008 16:03:03 GMT+1 Terenceno14 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=22#comment11 Drugs policy is determined by what plays out well in the daily mail. so long as that is the case young people will conitnue to feel detached from government policy and it will have no effect. the old arguments about drugs being 'evil' simply don't wash with the millions of people who regulatory take them.One would hope that david cameron with his past would have been a little more enlightened on this subject. but obviously he will take the cheap and easy political route Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:59:37 GMT+1 StroszekBassist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=20#comment10 It just seems a step too far. We're already trying to deal with anti-social behaviour due to alcohol misuse, and trying to improve the nation's health by marginalising smoking - surely legalising these drugs would render all this work somewhat pointless?Being just about the only person of my age I know that has always refused to even try a spliff, I'm not naive enough to think that the majority of young adults don't already dabble in illegal substances; but there are other concerns. Every problem we have related to tobacco and alcohol will suddenly become a problem with these drugs. Rather than worrying about 15 year-olds managing to buy a pack of cigarettes, we'll be dealing with youngsters managing to get hold of more dangerous substances. Cannabis apologists love telling us that alcohol and tobacco do far more damage, ignoring the fact that their usage statistics aren't comparable in the first place. Even if there is truth in that, is that not a reason to ban alcohol and tobacco, rather than a reason to legalise cannabis?Besides, where do we draw the line: cannabis? Ecstasy? Cocaine? Heroin? What about manhood-shrinking steroids? Once the floodgates are opened, there'll be people arguing for each and every one of them to be legalised. Do we sell them in corner shops, or do we have specialised pub equivalents?Surely, with tobacco and alcohol edging ever closer to being banned, this would be a backwards step? Do we legalise guns too, in order to improve gun crime statistics? Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:59:17 GMT+1 sizzler http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=18#comment9 As a professional in the criminal justice system I am not in favour of blanket legalisation. However is does seem bizarre that people who have become addicted to heroine are not maintained without condoition by their GP.I've never met as female heroine addict who wasn't a very good looking girl or one with wealth parents when 1st addicted, sometimes being as young as 13. And that speaks to the detrimenatl effect of refusing to maintain the addicts who turn to dealing and introducing girls to heroine who are capable of bringing in the money one way or another.Please lets take the legs away from this misrable trade once and for all. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:51:27 GMT+1 TheTomTyke http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=16#comment8 I firmly believe that people should be allowed to put whatever they like into their bodies as long as it doesn't harm anybody else in any way. Unfortunately people are always going to break the law in order to obtain money to buy drugs. The law needs to become tougher on drug-related crime if any measure to legalise drugs was possibly going to be introduced.The issue of legalising prostitution that histon4europe touches upon is a similar issue and should be dealt with in a similar way. Those who force women to prostitute themselves and are involved in sex trafficking should be dealt with harshly. That aside if a woman chooses to have sex for money she should be allowed, again as long as it doesn't harm anybody else.I'm sure people would take exception to having drug users and prostitutes loitering on the street however, that's an issue that would have to be addressed. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:30:16 GMT+1 saga mix http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=14#comment7 Let's say cigarettes and alcohol have just this minute been invented, okay, and the powers that be are deciding (deciding right now) whether ...- both will be legal and freely available- both will be prohibited- fags to be legal but not booze- booze to be legal but not fagsWhat do you think they'd say?I reckon how you answer that question should give you the position you ought to be taking on this "legalise drugs?" question. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:27:25 GMT+1 Ian Newton http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=12#comment6 Frankly I'm surprised there is still anyone who has ever stopped to think about it properly that DOESN'T think legalisation is the way forward. You only have to look at the history of drug prohibition to realise it was never a rational response to drug use in the first place (and it is incidentally rubbish to say that legal drugs would be a "step into the unknown" - most drugs were legal everywhere until the 20th century) . But while I am in favour of legalisation I do worry about what all those people making so much money from the drug trade at the moment would turn their hands to if drugs were legalised. It's too much to hope for that they would simply go out and get normal jobs. Would we see a massive rise in more traditional types of crime like extortion? The consequences of the sudden redundancy of millions of drug dealers might need some planning for... Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:26:37 GMT+1 willsmac http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=10#comment5 Indeed there is widespread political support - but that does not make it a good idea to legalize some currently illegal drugs. Of course it would make some currently-illegal activities legal and so reduce crime (sort of), but it would also increase consumption hugely, possibly to current tobacco or alcohol levels.And that is the problem - currently-legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco cause far more total medical damage than less-widely-used illegal drugs. Even if you think that new drugs would just substitute for current legal ones (cannabis for tobacco, say) this could still do harm and is very unlikely to do any good.And we are not going to legalize all drugs - there will always be more dangerous ones, and presumably people will move to them? Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:26:03 GMT+1 dudemrmr http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=8#comment4 It is patently obvious that the illegality of drugs causes far more social, economic and environmental harm than the substances in question. What is needed is a grown up debate on the best way to move forward, regulate and tax the drugs industry. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:22:23 GMT+1 niall_g http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=6#comment3 The legalisation of all drugs has long been advocated by libertarian economists (and has been championed by The Economist for some time).Legalise drugs and you take organised crime out of the picture. You give the government another source of tax revenue. Additionally you stop cannabis being a gateway drug since there will be no backstreet dealers offering people looking for cannabis a free wrap of crack or heroin to get them hooked.There is also a potential saving to the NHS as they will not be required to treat people who are badly hurt by drugs cut with things like scouring powder. People will also know the purity of what they are buying.Unfortunately I cannot see any politician with a sniff of being able to espouse this due to the volume of opposition from the sheep led by the red tops (amongst others). Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:18:09 GMT+1 Jaknet http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=4#comment2 The government claims it wants to stop the criminals from profiting from drugs. Surely the only way, as the "war on drugs" has done nothing but cost the tax payer billions, is to legalise them, tax them and control them itself. Thus removing the criminals totally from the supply chain, helping improve the poorer countries where the drugs are produced and keeping the quality of the drugs safe.How can there not be a drop in crime when all the drug dealers from the street dealer up to the main big importers lose their entire market.I've yet to see anyone having street wars over selling alcohol or tobaccoHas no-one learnt anything from USA and the times of prohibition. The only people who profited from that were the criminals.Drugs have been part of human society for over 5,000 years and it has not destroyed us. The only reason tobacco and alcohol are not classed as "drugs" (which they are) is because they are taxed and controlled. Do the same with the rest of the drugs and be done with it.There might well be a decrease in crime and also a decrease in binge drinking due to being able to enjoy a smoke instead of the only option being alcohol.How many people have been killed by smoking cannabis (none) compared to the amount of deaths each week from drinking the legal drug of alcohol.How much police, court and prison time and money will be saved by this. Giving our overworked justice system the time to deal with more serious crime.I wonder how much of the governments reluctance to address this issue is helped by the alcohol industry not wanting to lose their profits from giving the nation an option to drinking. The paper and textile industries were one of the reasons cannabis and hemp became illegal in the states as it threatened their profits.Not to mention that hemp (contains almost no THC) is good for biofuel, clothing, paper etc, etc and grows easily and quickly without any help. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:15:23 GMT+1 royalpies77 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=2#comment1 Indeed it is blindingly obvious....have never done drugs but the people I know who have all have good jobs and don't need crime to pay for said drugs. Why not make tax from such sales, reduce deaths due to contaminated supplies, take the drug dealers out of the eqation and reduce crime and allow countries like Afganistan to sell their main crops to legal suppliers. We already allow the sale of tobaco and alcohol but people seem to think these drugs are different to other simply due to the fact they are legal. Sadly it'll never happen. Thu 04 Sep 2008 15:01:37 GMT+1 tarquin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/09/the_drug_debate_rumbles_on.html?page=0#comment0 oo first postI think you're right Mark, the legalising drugs issue is becoming much more mainstream - it may be restricted to university students and educated professionals just now but sooner or later there has to be a politician brave enough to try itof course by 'brave' I mean 'thinks there's enough public support' - so the masses of voters will have to understand that legalising drugs is beneficial, and not 'soft' or dangerous to their childrenI recently had a debate with someone, who is well educated, but was deeply opposed to legalising drugs and prostitution, she pretty much had no leg to stand on by the end of it, but still was intent claiming they were bad things that shouldn't exist so should be illegal, despite the evidence against prohibition - my point: there's still a lot of hard heads out there, and they vote Thu 04 Sep 2008 14:48:42 GMT+1