Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Drug Legalisation


I was hoping the last post regarding force structures might generate some debate; unfortunately not. So let’s have a look at something more controversial.

It seems to be de rigour at the moment to join the liberal call to legalise drugs. We are led to believe that spending millions of pounds fighting the scourge of unlawful drugs is a waste of money and we are criminalising thousands of people for possession of drugs for no good reason. The pro legalisation lobby claim that this will be more effective as drug dealers will be put out of business on the basis of supply not being required as demand disappears.

What does legalisation of drugs actually mean? Does it mean anyone can go and buy skunk, cocaine or heroin over the counter? Are we going to restrict purchase to the over 18’s like alcohol supposedly is? Or does it just mean we give it to addicts and they can lawfully possess and use it?

This seems to be the biggest problem with the pro lobby. There is no overarching strategy and solution to the problem just disparate suggestions based mainly around the contention that the current strategy does not work. I have looked at some of the suggestions from the pro lobby and I cannot see they provide the answer to the problem.

One suggestion is that the prohibition of alcohol did not work and so why should it for drugs? Alcohol was and is used by the majority of the population; drugs are used by between 3 and 5% generally. There is no comparison. If the majority of the population used drugs the very fabric of our society would fall apart. Who would be going to work, paying taxes etc? Who would pay for the free drugs for all these addicts?

Portugal is hailed as a country that has seen the light and legalised drugs. They have not. Portugal had a serious drug problem, the worst in Europe. They decided that a policy of education combined with feeding arrested users into treatment rather than punishment was the way forward. This is not very different to that which we do here. No one is prosecuted for a first offence of possession of controlled drugs. We have spent a fortune on education and treatment programmes. Offenders going into custody for acquisitive crime are screened and all are offered drug treatment and counselling. Few take up the offer. All Portugal has achieved is a reduction in drug usage to a similar level to the rest of Europe.

Tacit approval of drugs or legalisation in the same way as alcohol delivers totally the wrong message to society. Suggesting it is OK to use drugs and that we will supply you with free drugs until you fancy giving them up can only encourage more users. When are people going to realise that we cannot afford the mess the liberal brigade have already got us into and drug legalisation will only make it worse.

For example, society protocol used to demand that couples saved up to get married, found somewhere to live and then thought about having a family. The welfare state was there to pick up the pieces of those who made mistakes. Now we have a society where people just breed, get houses, never work and that is all OK. It is not PC to criticise as this is their right apparently. This is another story really but the point is that we are now paying out in benefits more than we raise in income tax for the first time in history. We cannot afford any more daft ideas and need to recover some ground already lost. If we start handing out free drugs to addicts we will have to give free drinks to alcoholics and free cigarettes to smokers. And it will have to be Chateauneuf du Pap as I cannot drink anything else and refusal will be a breach of my human rights.

I feel exasperated that some people think that by supplying drugs to addicts we will stop demand and so the drug dealers have no business and disappear. If we give free drugs to addicts the dealers will simply target other young people, mostly young teenagers, to increase the demand. At best, some of them will move on to other crime such as prostitution and people trafficking. At worst there will be a price war while they try and put the Government out of business. We are almost bankrupt so it is a serious possibility. The suggestion that they will disappear is ludicrous.

The laws of our land should reflect the sort of society we want to live in. We don’t want drugs in our society and we should not encourage people to use them. I am fine with users being encouraged into treatment. Dealers should be hunted down, imprisoned for a long time and every penny they own seized. The state should not become just another drug dealer.

29 comments:

  1. When you say drugs, surely you'll admit each has their own pros and cons. You speak that prohibition never worked, well, NuGov has ensured we're the most spied on Nation in the world, and seeing as we're an island, well, it'll be pretty easy to impose a ban in today's Britain. To enforce it however would be a different matter seeing how easy it is to ferment nearly anything into alcohol, even if it does smell of perfume (although I would miss my JD). And even when caught probably result in a hefty fine instead of clink. Or even worse, mean a lot more people end up blind.

    My main point is people (and it's more like 10-15% who use dope UK wide) who smoke dope are generally peaceful and law-abiding people (although with the amount of laws about now, staying legal is getting harder by the day).

    You see all the WORST case scenarios as you are a copper, so would not have experienced the joys of dope at summer BBQs when everyone is chilled out enjoying the sun with no trouble whatsoever, and most definitely never smoked a sly one on the way home from a stressful day at the office bringing yourself to relieve the tension instead of unleashing it on your loved ones for playing their noise too loudly. You don't get massive call outs to mass brawls involving dopers, damn, most are too stoned to be bothered. Sure there are dickheads out there but even without the dope they're trouble.

    As you can tell, I'm pro-weed, although I stopped smoking daily donkeys ago. Like everything, it is moderation more than anything else. Drink 10 pints everyday before noon for a year and see your personality change, so that is the problem. Most addictions can cause a person problems. Just like laws, seems to be a new one everyday.

    I have been arrested and processed for possession twice and what a waste of time that was for all concerned. Cautioned me twice but only after they 'tagged' me onto the database. And thus the beginning of my resentment towards the Boys in Blue (although has mellowed over the ageing years although seems to be flaring once more at the lack of action on oh so many things important to the Nation, not the Government).

    And I reckon the ONLY reason they won't legalize marijuana is because the wouldn't be able to tax it. Unlike money, this does grow on trees (well, of sorts) so people would just grow and swap their own stash cutting out the taxman and NuGov wouldn't want that. Plus, most people wouldn't need prescription drugs for stress as a few space cakes and life becomes more than bearable. Better than all those nasty side-effects from Big Pharma, like suicidal tendencies.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hanging smack, crack and meth dealers and more importantly, importers whoever they may be. Funny how there is never a drought on though, no matter how many interceptions are made.

    Worse of all though is the "education" they sprout. Tell a teenager not to do something and what usually happens? They do it. Instead of all the scare stories, just give basic facts, especially drill in the importance of fitness and kids wouldn't be inclined to risk themselves.

    Just like every other ban, it only plays into the hands of organized criminals and corrupt officials who love being in charge of Big Budgets and of course need justification. Worst yet, with our open door policy, drugs is the least of Britain's worries.

    I don't know much about the Police structure, although people call eachother "Guv" a lot, reason why I didn't comment on that post. Drugs on the other hand, well, I live in Peckham so know more than I'd like to.

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  2. It's not millions wasted on drug enforcement, it's billions.

    3-5% use drugs? what's your source for this I'd be interested in how accurate that is.

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that the only people who use drugs are those who sponge off the state & sit all day in crack houses. Many drugs users hold down very successful jobs.

    You seem to have a big thing on the pro drug lobby not coming up with a useful policy on drugs legalisation yet your only suggestion appears to be hunt them down & imprison them, like we've not been trying to hunt them down & imprison them for a very long time, the only difference between current policy & your suggestion appears to be the length of the sentence, like longer jail sentences ever did anything to dissuade people from crime.

    The REASON drugs use should be illegal is...?

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  3. What a load of incoherent waffle.
    On one hand you're complaining about how drugs being free wouldn't work and on the other you're suggesting drug dealers won't go away they'll get into a price war with the government? What?

    You're *average* drug dealer, deals to fund their own habit. They're not busines men, they don't sit at conference table to discuss corporate strategy.

    Oh, and you seems to be implying that anyone who uses drugs, doesn't work nor pay taxes. I put it to you that the MAJORITY of people who take drugs actually manage to hold down a job and pay taxes. Cannabis is no more debilitating than alcohol. You can confine Ecstasy use to weekends etc etc.
    In fact it seems in your narrow world view anyone who takes drugs automatically becomes a deadbeat junkie.

    And it's not millions wasted on drug enforcement, it's not billions either. It's TENS of billions. Drug enforcement is an enormous industry in this country, and after decades of relentless battle has resulted in... drugs being readily available to anyone who wants them.

    One of the definitions of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and continuously expect a different outcome. This was seem to nicely define current drug policy.

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  4. Hi Lex, I wrote a post on the LEAP blog in response to your comments:

    http://copssaylegalize.blogspot.com/2009/11/thinking-policeman.html

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  5. I want to exchange links with you, my blog is http://cctvcamera-system.blogspot.com/

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  6. I'd also be interested in hearing where your usage statistics come from. Here in the US, well over a third of the country has used marijuana by the most conservative estimates. Is the UK really an order of magnitude different?

    I'm also not sure why you assume that legalizing drugs would require the government to "give free drugs to addicts." Does the British government supply free alcohol and tobacco? No, private companies obtain licenses to produce, distribute, and sell those products. I see no reason to assume that other drugs would be treated differently.

    Finally, I'd like to echo a very important point made by David in his response over at the LEAP blog. We've tried the "zero tolerance" approach for dealers here in the U.S. -- mandatory minimum sentences, asset seizure laws, three strike laws, the whole bit. What did we get for it? The highest per-capita prison population in the world by leaps and bounds, without making a dent in our drug usage rates (which also lead the world). The approach you recommend for dealers will do nothing but bring misery and community deterioration.

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  7. Dissapointing, poorly thought-through blog post on a subject you obviously know nothing about.

    Funny how the "solution" always is "more of the same"--only stronger, harder, thougher etc. It just amazes me how backwards our thinking is on this subject.

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  8. It is important to understand that when one dealer/cartel gets arrested, this only creates a vacuum in the market for another dealer/cartel to move in and supply the (neverending) demand for drugs. I'll say it again: arrested people has no effect. There will ALWAYS be more people looking to profit off this lucrative black market.

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  9. The drug trade equals about 150 billion dollars per year, how can you say only 3-5% of the population uses them? ALL DRUGS were legal up til 1914 and society wasn't falling apart. Even according to the FBI, 75% of all drug users are employed. You sound like someone who is afraid to lose their job, you are a Prohibition Profiteer.

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  10. Whoever said he is a "prohibiton profiteer" needs to think again. He is law enforcement; they enforce the laws - not profit off them. The real, economic prohibition profiteers are, of course, the drug dealers. They are literally ensured a lucrative business by articial price inflation from prohibition. Take that away, and they'll be gone just like the Al Capone-era thugs when alcohol prohibition was terminated.

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  11. @James: Plenty of groups profit from prohibition. This includes drug dealers of course. It also includes addiction counselors, drug testing companies, drug test masking companies, lobbyists, pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, alcohol and tobacco companies, and yes, law enforcement agencies.

    More laws mean more crime. More crime means more law enforcement. For law enforcement officers -- particularly certain types, like prison guards and narcotics officers -- drug prohibition is a guaranteed money machine. It keeps them employed. This doesn't even address the incentives offered through disastrous programs like our federal Byrne Grants here in the US.

    To be clear, I am certainly not accusing any particular person of speaking dishonestly in the name of personal profit. In fact, I strongly believe that the vast majority of law enforcement officers, and prohibition supporters in general, have honest intentions and are not seeking personal income. But to claim that law enforcement agencies as a whole do not profit from drug prohibition is off-base.

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  12. Less government is better than more government, so although I have never used any drugs (and don't booze) I think it best to de-criminalise drugs. As people state correctly above, NO drugs were illegal at times in the past, and to add my two penn'orth I remember well Lenny Bruce's abortive mission to perform in the Establishment Club. He was astounded that there were only 1500 or so registered addicts in the UK at that time (mid-1950s?). And now?

    If it is a normal 'shopping item', let it be so. It will be hard for the gangs to compete with Boots, who already dish out stuff to shattered white-faced junkies as 'medication'. If you want to grow and smoke your own, be my guest.

    It may be wild for a while but then it will settle down. After all, how exciting is it to venture into Boots?

    Less law, please. It hasn't worked.

    DZ

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  13. I wont even read this blog as I already now the propagandist b.s. it contains..I've heard it my hole life..I just want to ask a question. Can anyone show me where in the Constitution it gives delegated power to the Congress (Government) to control a persons mind,body or soul? I really dont care what you think of drugs and the people who use them but when you try and control what another man does with his own body or mind than your taking the Unalienable Rights given to him by birth to control and regulate his own body,mind and soul.

    The war on drugs is Unconstitutional and that's all I really need to know.When will we stop trying to force morals upon our people by putting them in prison for choices they make with there own bodies?

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  14. You write: "For example, society protocol used to demand that couples saved up to get married, found somewhere to live and then thought about having a family."

    You then go on to suggest that society has become too liberal and some of that needs to be reined in. Why start with drugs, though? More in keeping with your example above would be reverting to disapproval of homosexual relationships. Is that next?

    I actually don't like what homosexual men do to each other but I'm required, and prepared, to tolerate it. The same should apply to the occasional spliff, FFS.

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  15. The last time I looked, the majority of the population does use drugs, in the U.S. the number of people with at least one prescription increased from 67% to 74% between 2000 and 2006, and the very fabric of our society hasn't fall apart.

    You said, "If we give free drugs to addicts the dealers will simply target other young people, mostly young teenagers, to increase the demand", and "at worst there will be a price war while they try and put the Government out of business".

    How can there be a price war if we give free drugs to addicts? If someone sells to kids, they need to go to jail. I'm a former narcotics investigator, and it's sad, but today if you want drugs ask a kid, if you want alcohol, you need to find an adult.

    Ask any teenager how long it would take them to get drugs at their school, then ask how long it would take them to get alcohol?

    You said, "The laws of our land should reflect the sort of society we want to live in". I agree, in America today because of our drug war, we imprison more of our own citizens than any other nation in the world.

    I don't want to live in a society that imprisons it's citizens for simply using a substance the government doesn't agree with, while approving others more dangerous.

    You're right; the laws of our land should reflect the sort of society we want to live in. It should be a society where citizens take responsibility for their personal actions. To alter our conciseness and explorer is to be human.......

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  16. Who's this "we", who don't want drugs in "our" society? Just an unelected, domineering reprobate, invoking the Royal We as he tries to usurp the powers of government.

    That's the second, third and eighth of Peel's Principles you've torn into pieces. Are you going for the full set?

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  17. http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm

    The report above, launched by Transform in the House Of Commons last week sets out the framework for how currently illegal drugs would be regulated once the (inevitable) legalisation of them occurs.

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  18. Well at least it generated a bit of debate. I think some of you need to re read it as you seem to have missed points. I will make a couple of comments though.
    1. I don't particularly care if someone wants to smoke the occasional spliff. I do have a problem with this idea that a bit of dope is harmless. People nowadays are smoking skunk and for many it is highly addictive. I have seen many young peoples lives ruined by it and personal experience of this in my own family.
    2. I really get pissed off with this attitude that we are breaching someones rights and if they want to stuff themselves with drugs they should be allowed to. I would agree with you if you just got on with it and didn't impact on me. If you end up a Class A drug addict you will expect me to house you, pay your bills, provide you with free drugs, rehab and benefits etc. You can Foxtrot Oscar!

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  19. "People nowadays are smoking skunk and for many it is highly addictive"

    Stop talking about skunk in hushed and hysterical tones, you sound ridiculous. It's the natural form of the plant, not chemically addictive in the slightest. However, pleasure is pyschologically addictive, but I don't suppose you want people to stop having sex do you? As to it's strength, it's like trying to say Rum is vastly worse than beer, people just drink more to reach the same effect.

    Please don't blame cannabis because one of your family members is a closet scizophrenic or has dependency problems. It's been shown clinically to have no adverse long term effects on mental wellbeing. Moreover, the vast majority of people who use or have used cannabis lead productive and happy lives, inclduing many prominent members of society.

    Has it crossed your mind that people with psychological problems might be drawn to cannabis?

    "you end up a Class A drug addict you will expect me to house you, pay your bills, provide you with free drugs, rehab and benefits etc."

    You do realize this is whats going on now, imprisoning people isn't free you know.

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  20. This talk of "skunk" is like going back in a time machine to the days of Reefer Madness. It's just got no scientific basis whatsoever, and you will not hear the subject discussed outside the UK, even the DEA would laugh at you.

    The only reason people talk of skunk in such ridiculous terms is the ersthwile unavailability of quality cannabis in the UK, which hardly proves the efficacy of your drug war.

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  21. Yeah the hysteria over "skunk" is ridiculous. High quality marijuana and hashish have been available for thousands of years -- the presence of high THC content is nothing new at all. And, like others have said, a higher THC content does absolutely nothing to change the nature of cannabis use.

    In fact, by any objective measure, users of "skunk" are actually better off than people smoking low-quality Mexican merch. The higher the THC content, the less plant matter needs to be consumed to achieve the desired effect. Since inhaling carbon combustion products is virtually the only negative health consequence of cannabis smoking, "skunk" smokers are actually better off.

    Of course, it goes without mention that prohibition has undeniably been the driving force behind increasing THC percentages anyway. So if you're really concerned about "skunk", go ahead and do something about it -- by creating a legal, regulated market for recreational marijuana.

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  22. I assume you don't consume nicotine, alcohol or caffeine, rather than that you're just another Goddamn holider-than-thou hypocrite.

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  23. I'm a cop. Been one for 22 years and I want most drugs decriminalised. I have no opinion about those who use them. Why would I? I drink alcohol. I certainly don't have any wish to criticise someone else's lifestyle choice. The only reason, and it seems overpowering to me, is that by criminalising certain substances we create the circumstances for enormously powerful and corrosive organised crime gangs to undermine our social and economic stability. We have reached the point where it is undermining whole countries: e.g. Afghanistan, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico etc. Mexico is in the G20! It has huge oil reserves and 100 million people yet is in danger of becoming a failed state because of the power of drugs. This is the only argument worth advancing and will be the one to change intenational drug policy eventually. Everything else is just froth.
    I don't suggest we sell MDMA in pubs or even cannabis in coffee bars (although we might), because this stuff is dangerous and should be controlled, but surely WE need to control the supply, not organisd crime.

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  24. "Who would be going to work, paying taxes etc?"

    How many recreational drug users do you know that don't work due to their drug use? I personally know a lot of recreational drug users and the only unemployed person I know is a heavy drinker.

    This blog seems to show that on the whole you are completely unable to grasp the concept that saying 'drugs are bad' is an insufficient argument for criminalising them and there is absolutely zero evidence that the moderate use of many drugs has any negative effects whatsoever on the user or society in general.

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  25. ‘Thinking policeman’?

    I think not. Hit this for some sanity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LayaGk0TMDc

    And for the record myself and my friends have dabbled with recreational drugs for years. My IQ is 138, I earn about triple the average wage, and it’s my damn taxes that are paying for this exercise in futility.

    It’s time to grasp the basic point that prohibition doesn’t work, and even if it did, riding a horse is 30 times more dangerous than ecstasy even when the pill is made by criminals http://www.synchronium.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/equasy_an_overlooked_addiction_with_implications_for_the_current_debate_on_drug_harms.pdf, so either ban horse riding, rugby, boxing, sailing, skiing, snow boarding etc etc etc or just leave us to determine our own lives.

    I’m a big boy, but even a juvenile could see that alcohol has a much bigger impact on your local A&E ward than any illegal drug ever will.

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  26. Wow. I was hoping a "thinking policemans" blog would have 'new' ideas for large problems. Your answer is more of the same, and actually harsher punishment. No deep thought here, only a continuation of the 'nanny state' you decry in other blog posts. Are we all really so many children who need the government, or YOU, to help us decide what is good or bad for our body or mind. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky to have you out there each day, protecting us from our own bad choices. Who knows what the grown children of your country would do with all that freedom.

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  27. Hi is very interesting your to topic Drug Legalisation...thanks

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  28. So, how do yopu define "drugs"?

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  29. Mind-altering drugs have always been present within society.

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