Thursday, 2 June 2011

The "War on Drugs" is not working...

I always find it an enjoyable start to the day when I pick up a Metro and the main headline is something I agree with - the war on drugs most definitely isn't working!  

I have blogged about this many times before however it's good to see so many places running this story.  The Metro obviously leads with the fact that former global leaders are speaking out against the current policy, but also the BBC, Express and have the story that celebrities are writing to the Government to suggest they change their tactics.

It's all basic common sense.  One of the major sources of income for organised crime is drugs.  Make them legal, allow legal channels of production and distribution and you take away their ability to make huge profit margins.  Faced with the choice of drugs from a licenced operator who has strict rules on their ability to supply and the content of their produce and an illegal seller who could cut their drugs with anything and no legal duty of care I'm sure that the vast majority would chose the legal route.

It is also healthier/safer for the users, a large number of overdoses I'm sure are due to the fact that the underground drug market offers produce of differing strengths, so users take more expecting to need it to achieve their hit.  In addition you bring them out of the shadows, instead of hiding away fearful of being caught programmes to help addicts can be targeted directly at them as you know who they are.  

I haven't even mentioned the positive effect that could be seen on the Government's books - taxed produce, reduced criminal expenditure likely to offset the additional educational and health costs that would result.

It's quite clear that prohibition isn't working

"UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%. "

This is in comparison to Portugal's small fall in hard drug usage since decriminalisation.

The annoying thing about this though is that these former leaders speak up after they have been in power.  I'm making the assumption that just like most leaders they knew the current course of action is detrimental yet they also knew changing it could be bad for their political career.  Our current Government shows no sign of even contemplating evidence based policy, which as a Liberal Democrat I find very disappointing that our ministers aren't at least trying to start a debate.

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