The Chinese used to pay their bureaucrats in opium – government control of the trade made it a valuable currency. Drugs generally are not expensive. Cider and beer are less than 3 pence a pint at the factory gate, a kilo of heroin about £800 at source, fags about 60 pence a packet without tax. One wonders if we could be taking something that made us feel better and was not a health risk? They told us once that abstinence was good for us and prohibitions have generally failed. Making something scarce and being able to charge a lot for it is central to capitalism.
I find myself wondering how the money flows in the drug trade. My old pub, now too boring to visit, requires me to fund a Middle Eastern capital fund that rents the building out, wads of tax and generally costs 5 times the off-licence price. Various sources for smuggled fags, booze and five and ten pound bags of ‘something’ are available with the runners making 50 pence or a quid on them. Somewhere up the chain there is enough money to keep wars going in narco states, tobacco companies engage in smuggling, a few flash gits make fortunes and the money finds its way into businesses. People in parts of Afghanistan and on the Everglades (my own local estate) work for a few quid because there is no other work. Skunk is raised in attics, cellars and old mills, and chrome polish is in demand by people with no cars. The benefit tokens being traded are in short supply, so we get a lot of minor crime. One guesses the dealers beyond the ten quid bag hope to latch into some kid and his parent’s money and that credit cards are owed plenty that bought coke. In all this everywhere there is misery, violence and weird propaganda. Darker episodes of Miami Vice had bankers recovering money lost in South America by funding the drug trade. We believe 7% of world finance is laundered.
We interdict less than 1% of the trade and might need to get as high as 60% to win any ‘war’. We catch mostly smallfry and it’s apparent everyone is expendable as the trade,like the show goes on. The mantra now is to legalise the trade so that we can treat the addictions in a medical manner. I suspect this is part of the answer and only part. The obvious thing is there is no mature debate and even what academics know is largely hidden from us. Politicians just whip up our moral panic. This isn’t hard.
My guess is we need to stop the benefit-sponsored army available to exploit – and I think this army is exploited in other trade too. But who really does the exploitation and what would they turn to if we had a legal trade? Some sources would have us believe a major link on drugs, oil and war stretching into our security services. I just tend to see pond life into drugs, prostitution,money lending and violence. I can see the next generation growing up under their influence too. I’ve seen police gold standard operations in arrest and rehabilitation, but these need to be increased by a factor of ten and are already costly.
Is the money generated really needed to fund something other than the trade itself? Is it a sway of supporting our Ponzi-scheme banks? I just don’t know.
Um…… My take is that for many years I enforced the Drugs Act and slowly came to realise that all controlled drugs have got to be legalised in the same way that tobacco and alcohol are. Yes you will get the problem addicts just like you do now along with the problem drinkers and addicted smokers.
It would be very important to ensure that education on the dangers of use was widely used and that way individuals could make an informed choice.
I have never used a controlled substance nor do I have a wish to start but I have used and discarded tobacco and alcohol.
Drugs are a fact of modern life – they are not going away but legalisation would I believe have a significant impact on crime. Most of the crime I dealt with was associated with alcohol and drugs in the case of alcohol its use and in respect of drugs getting money to acquire.
As a society we seem unprepared to allow individuals to make personal lifestyle choices in respect of drugs but happily allow them to use tobacco and alcohol to excess. I am sure that many more people die from alcohol and tobacco use than from drugs.
I finally realised there was no other option when I saw what it had done to a young girl forced into prostitution by a pimp because of drugs he had supplied her. Legalisation would have at least given her a choice and perhaps have allowed the pond life to begin to evolve into useful members of society.
I’ve seen similar Gary, but what gets to me is I see no sensible debate at all. I wonder what the real questions we should be asking are. I see chronic abuse at the bottom end and wonder what the real use of the proceeds of all the crime involved is.
No debate because those that wield power would have a good section of it taken away, by that I mean giving people the freedom of choice. We so say have the freedom of speech but the reality is we are confined by what those in power deem acceptable. There are plenty of issues that I would like to see aired but they rarely see the light of day. It is as if we, the ordinary people could not be relied upon to use our own judgement so issues such as this are put away out of reach. Other similar issues are legalising brothels and euthanasia.
For God’s sake whose body/life is it. Does it belong to the individual or the State?
I can only agree Gary.