Friday, October 31, 2014

The Politics of Drugs

The current 'debate' about the state's approach to illegal drugs has a familiar ring to it.

I am old enough to remember a report on drugs by Baroness Wootton when I was a student.  The report was the product of a committee of people who knew their way around the subject, but that did them no good at all. The then Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan stepped firmly on any proposal to modify the drug laws, by some accounts not even reading the report. Then as now the government was terrified of tabloid headlines, and their reaction was like one of those Bateman cartoons where people express horror at something or other.

Forget the evidence, forget the facts; the drug laws are likely to stay as they are.


  1. Too bloody right. The investment of ego, political power, and, indeed, actual treasure, in continuing the unwinnable "war" is too great to be overcome by mere reason. Not to mention the not infrequent collusion between nominal combatants (e.g. "Iran-Contra") for reasons having nothing to do with human health and welfare. It is too convenient a bogeyman to be abandoned willy-nilly.

  2. Far too many votes to be lost by any political party that advocates de-criminalisation.

  3. ..and the best drugs are a good source of money which the Government is already collecting and spending. Let's not touch the monopoly.

  4. You must all be Guardian readers..

  5. As I admitted in a comment on a similar post some time ago, I must have led a very sheltered life, as I never experimented with drugs, even as a student. In fact I have never actually seen any type of drug or known anyone who has ever taken them (or if they did, they never told me). So I am not perhaps very well qualified to comment on this topic, but I am mystified by the 'official line' which seems to have been maintained by politicians of all parties, presumably due to prompting by senior civil servants, especially in the Home Office.

    I can see that there may be certain medical risks associated with a freer approach to the consumption of drugs, but as Bystander observes, it is remarkable that there have been so many independent and objectively researched reports over the years which recommend a different approach to the question of drug use and supply, only to be met by such implacable opposition from the powers that be.

    My own experience (or the lack of it) makes me comparatively indifferent to this question. The law is as it is, and there's an end of it. And yet I do still have a nagging doubt as to whether the current policy is the right answer.

  6. The USA wont like it if anyone legalises drugs. Think of all the empty prisons and unemployed cops.
    As well as the various 'Czars' who would have to find another cause.

  7. I understand the American DEA is the power behind the scenes in all Western drugs policy. Any sort of trial legalisation or permissiveness needs to be below their radar or it will get stamped on. The DEA has an official remit to police the world, unlike most other US police agencies such as the FBI which are restricted to domestic operations only.

    Recently Portugal has had considerable success in decriminalising hard drugs, but that's a small non-English-speaking country. The DEA is worried about foreign success stories feeding back into American policy-making, so the larger English-speaking nations come under a harder cosh.

  8. Never touched drugs, know plenty that have. Decriminalise drugs, sure. But which ones? Crystal meth? Krokodil? Whatever immediately addictive crap a chemist designs this weekend?

    I think there is a case for decriminalising some drugs, on the understanding that there is no NHS treatment ever for such users. Cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD, E, I think. Bring in the same for alcohol and smoking. That would actually create a better society where personal choices had personal outcomes.

    1. Have you heard about the new way to take E ? It is injected just behind the front two teeth. On the street this is known as 'E by gum'.

  9. Some of the states have done it. There's a chance US pressure will lessen allowing for real change.

  10. The country is on its knees finacially and money if extra tight. One then has to wonder why this dogmatic approach to drugs has not been consigned to the bin where it belongs. There is no prospect of ever winning the "war on drugs" ( a bit like the war in Afganistan). If we concentrated on rehab and not punishment huge police resources could be redeployed, th3e courts lists would ease and maybe , just maybe society would be a better place.

    It's all very well going after drub barons- and that should continue, but kids and others who are not criminals in the true sense deserve better.


Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.