Drugs again

Drugs – Yet Again
Ach, I really, really dislike returning to this, but really, what is the point of the anti-drugs policy? I saw this today http://chapman.dailymail.co.uk/2011/11/your-best-friend-calls-you-and-tells-you-heshes-really-sick-how-do-you-show-you-care-1.html and felt the irritation rising again.

A nice picture needed to calm me down now. Let’s see. Ah, water. That’s good.

Teign over the weir below Drogo Castle

Is there a purpose to our “War on Drugs”?
Let’s see. It’s there to save the poor people who’d be made crazy by drugs. It’s to save lives. It’s to protect the public. It’s to save kids from seeing silly adults behaving like morons. After all, shouldn’t our Members of Parliament have a right to interfere in any aspect of our lives.
They certainly seem to think so.
Sorry, none of them justifies the truly glorious failure that is western anti-drugs policy. And if there was ever a policy that had abjectly failed, this was it.
All the warnings were there from day one when people only had to look at alcohol prohibition in the US. It failed because it was authoritarian, seen to be an objectionable infringement on peoples’ rights to get squiffy, and because there is no possibility of spending enough to detract from the joyous profits being made by those who are prepared to break the law.
There are several types of law breaker being punished here. Let’s start at the bottom: kids.
For the naughty, criminal, awful acts of taking some pills that all your friends do and being found out, you will win a criminal record. It will affect your future life. It may lead to your being incarcerated. Not good.
I had a great meeting with the late Eddie Ellison once, who had been the head of the National Drug Squad for the UK. He was absolutely in favour of legalising drugs because he saw the effects on school age and slightly older children. He rejected the notion that to smoke a joint or two should lead to the expulsion of children from their school two weeks before their main examinations – which happened to the son of a friend of his at Whitgift School. It had a disastrous effect upon the boy’s studying. Not because he was found smoking, but because there was an open discussion held at school about drugs in which he and other boys participated. They were encouraged to speak openly and honestly. Within a week all those who admitted to smoking pot were expelled.
There are those who commit perhaps fifty percent of the housebreakings in the country to support their habits. These are out of control. But then there are the dealers, too. And the smugglers. Lots and lots of lovely criminals.
We have introduced ever more draconian laws against these people. Police have won increasing power to stop the drugs. And yet Customs and Excise estimate that of all the drugs they catch each year, with all the investment in manpower and kit, they only ever remove ten percent from the market.
Meanwhile the profits go to support the drug lords in Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan. The money spent supports murders across the world, with tens of thousands dying in Mexico. Colombia, a lovely country, with very delightful people, has been devastated and brutalized by drugs, because of the profits our drug users generate.
And in Afghanistan, where many farmers cannot grow anything else, when their crops are destroyed they resort to fighting our soldiers, to kick them out so that they can return to profitable farming again.
It is incredible that such a failed, ill-conceived policy could have survived so many years.
Every so often a few people stick their heads above the parapet and ask for more sense to be shown.
Most of the drugs being banned are less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Heroin is not poisonous – it is once criminals have made it go further by cutting it with flour, rat poison and all the other goodies they throw in, but not when pure. Methadone, which is used to wean users off, is lethal in contrast. If too much is taken, the user will die.
So, not only do we consign our youths to criminal records, we are enthusiastically trying to poison them with the current policies.
It’s interesting to see that before the “war” on drugs, we used to have a few thousands of heroin addicts. They were prescribed their drugs by their local doctors, all legally and above-board, and they remained happy, did not need to rob or break into houses, and stayed healthy with their medical-quality drugs. This was in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the war was declared that this situation changed.
For more on this, and written by a far better scientist than me, look at Ben Goldacre’s essay here: http://www.badscience.net/2006/11/methadone-and-heroin/
Since then, we have exploded the use of heroin to hundreds of thousands of users, with highly variable quality, with major international gangs earning billions from their smuggling and gang wars. We have increased murders from firearms of all sorts, because these same gangs are smuggling submachineguns and pistols with their drugs.
For God’s sake, and more to the point, for the sake of all our youngsters who only want to use recreational drugs, we need to get realistic.
We should stop lying about the effects of drugs.
We should provide people with accurate data on the risks.
We should legalize all drugs, with health warnings on any packets sold.
We should allow drug sales from chemists under the control of participating pharmacists.
We should tax all such sales and ringfence the money to provide secure wards for those who do suffer from reactions or counter-effects of their habits.
If we did this, we would destroy the smuggling gangs overnight. The farmers in Venezuela and Colombia and all over the rest of the world would have reasonable incomes from their farming.
And it would stop youngsters gaining criminal records for the offence of trying a tab of E.
I should just like to add one rider. I have never in my life approached a drug dealer. I have never purchased drugs of any illegal type, and apart from smoking some dodgy, grassy cigarettes in my youth, have taken no illegal drugs.
This isn’t a manifesto to protect my habit. This is the result of fifty years of watching my peers at school, at university, at work. Almost all participate, or have participated, in taking drugs. And I am heartily convinced that almost all our representatives in Parliament have also tried drugs of different types. And many still do.
For this issue to be swept under the carpet along with the ash, while so many lives are being unnecessarily ruined, is worse than criminal. Too many lives are being ruined unnecessarily.

Another calming photo, I think …

3 Responses to “Drugs again”
  1. Carole Schultz says:

    I whole heartedly agree with your views; another great article…not to mention the delightful pictures.


  2. 2020ukblog says:

    Hi, would you mind if I reproduced this blog on our site – with proper acknowledgement and link to the blog, of course? Might have to edit out the pickies.



    • Mike says:

      Many thanks, Carole – I needed the pictures to maintain my sanity while writing!

      Rodney, yes, of course, please do. I’ll take all the additional publicity I can!


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