The way we go about trying to deal with the problems that surround illegal drug use is pathetic, stuck in moral attitudes from a time when we peddled the stuff abroad whilst issuing prohibition here. I can see no problem with drug-taking of any kind that doesn’t breach the peace or inflict costs on others beyond give and take.
I believe the moral approbation current practice in the UK relies on on drugs and sex needs to be swept away. This would be to clear the way for much better control of health and peace in our communities without criminalisation. I also believe we need sweeping changes in our legal system and that these issues could be the test ground for producing a new system more clearly linked to a fairer system based much more directly on public dialogue.
The squalid depravity of drink, drugs and the sex trade need to be exposed, as well as gross unfairness that lumps someone taking cannabis to ease pain with some scrote blaring out music, acting as a neighbourhood fence (for anything from stolen jeans to under-age sex) and ruining lives around him/her. Just changing possession laws is not the answer, and could lead to even more difficulty dealing with associated problems.
I’d go for key changes in administrative law, including the tracking of criminal profits to prevent vice turning to rackets. The Dutch have taken very significant steps, but have not got it all right. I certainly prefer coffee shops on Main Street to shebeens on estates. Pubs and clubs might just be places to allow supply and use.
Politicians totally fail us in this area. We need the debate and decisions out of their barking interests and in our hands. This would be a great area to try our new techniques of public dialogue and referendum.
One observation by an academic working in this field was the not exactly startling revelation that quite a lot of drinking is done because the boozer wants to get absolutely plastered, that is to say wants to make reality go away for a while (indeed a lot of drugs use is for that reason). So, why not start experimenting with cannabinoids and short-acting benzodiazeprenes (and possibly even Ecstasy too) and see if you can’t come up with a passable-tasting concoction which does just that: gets the user absolutely plastered but which tends to sedate more than anything else. This would be an advantage over alcohol in that a pack of drunks on this stuff would be relatively docile and inclined to collapse in corners asleep rather than go on the rampage.
The other advantage of taking a grown-up attitude to drugs is that it opens up the world of drug use to commercial exploitation. Cocaine would therefore be supplied in fixed-dose inhaler vials, complete with an antiseptic and anti-necrosis agents. Injectables could be supplied in single-use injection devices of set dose, and safety devices supplied with the drugs for the use of the more discerning user (a cuff which every few minutes beeps loudly; the user has to press a button on the cuff inside 30 seconds, or else an auto-injector pumps Narcan into them to reverse the effects of the heroin).
The final advantage is that the police would finally get the benefits of proper, effective drug-testing equipment to test a suspect for drugs in the system, and charge accordingly.
The net outcome of all this would be that the illegal market for drugs would utterly collapse, and a lot of criminal networks would wither and die, or find something else to traffic in. A lot of low-level acquisitive crime now committed by addicts would drop right off, freeing up police to enforce a lot of other laws. A rapid re-assessment of which laws are really necessary would then have to be done, to the benefit of all.
I tend to agree Dan. There’s a lot more that needs looking at – like the sorry site of addicted families where drugs are cheaper than food. The prospects of exploitation don’t do away with decriminalisation. The current line can’t hold though and something has to be done in administrative law against organised crime and how we control ensuing rackets. There is a lot of argument about that goes beyond what we get in the media.
If some plant leaf has a real or even an imagined property to relieve pain when chewed, smoked or rubbed on the skin, I have absolutely no moral right to prevent another from obtaining such relief.
The tragedy of our shallow drug laws is to help none – save lawyers, drug barons and other criminals.
Crooked cops who have turned up in this area have been found by ‘wire-tap’ – often abroad. There is another, cheaper and more squalid involvement too on what Gadget terms ‘Swamp’, quite possibly under his nose.