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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘scientific expert

The Drugs Debate

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It won’t go away will it?  It seems like at least once a month now some new high profile figure comes out against prohibition.  The latest, Sir Ian Gilmore, outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians, is hot on the heels of  Nicholas Green QC, chairman of the Bar Council in July and three eminent co-authors in The Lancet in May.  The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have also criticised government for failing to implement an evidence-based drugs policy and instead giving more weight to opinion.

Meanwhile the Humpty Dumpties at the Home Office keep on building their big walls, refusing to listen, refusing to think, refusing to care.  Their response is no, no, no, out of the question, no and no again.  In fact, I don’t think the ministers even think about it at all.   They just replay the same old no, no and no again as written by some civil servant, probably in the days of the golf ball typewriter.  Remember those?

It won’t go away though.  I first submitted a report to the Home Affairs Committee on the cannabis laws in 1978.  It was called “An Unaffordable Prejudice”.  I’ve been giving them the facts and the evidence ever since and so have hundreds of other individuals and organisations.  I’m in direct correspondence with the Home Office at the moment.  I’ve received one three page response and replied with four.  That’s how long it takes to get a dialogue going with our “responsive” government.   I started in May, immediately after my new MP was elected, and it takes a good three months to get anywhere – or perhaps I mean nowhere.  Still, I expect it was worse in the USSR.

It won’t go away.   Aside from the Home Office the only people in favour of our current drugs policy are the drug dealers and the Taliban.  They certainly don’t want things to change.

The Home Office can’t even get its story straight.  Today its latest pearls are: “Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are extremely harmful and can cause misery to communities across the country.”  This is nothing short of crass stupidity and irresponsible misinformation.  Lumping in cannabis with heroin and cocaine is simply ridiculous.  Describing cannabis as “extremely harmful” is in direct contradiction to every one of the Home Office’s own scientific experts.  These are the people who are supposed to be protecting our children, the vulnerable and the uneducated.   They should be ashamed of themselves.

When Proposition 19 passes on 2nd November (see here), the world will sit up and take notice.   Even Humpty Dumpty will have to engage his brain then because when 37 million Californians get the right to enjoy God’s herb without interference, well it ain’t gonna stop there.  If for no other reason than that our avaricious politicians will soon put aside their “principles” when they realise the oodles of cash and brownie points they’re missing out on.  California reckons it will create up to 110,000 new jobs, £1.4 billion in new tax revenue and a saving of $200 million in law enforcement costs.  When Humpty Dumpty takes off his blindfold of prejudice, ignorance and propaganda he’ll soon be gagging for the cash.

There are a million quotes from world leaders, politicians, doctors, scientists and “experts” of all sorts stating how ridiculous and self-defeating current drugs policy is.    It never seems to make any difference though.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both called for change many times but once they get into power what happens?  However, just to get right up the nose of Humpty Dumpty (that’s right, snort it up there), here’s what one very, very senior civil servant said just two years ago:

“I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, the government and voluntary sectors held the same view: the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be ‘tough on drugs’, even though they all knew the government’s policy was actually causing harm.”

Julian Critchley, Director, Cabinet Office UK Anti-Drug Coordination Unit. 13-08-08

It won’t go away.  Just Say No has become Just Say Now and the slimy dissembling oiks who insist on running our lives (and ruining many) will soon be in retreat.  It won’t go away.

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Proposition 19. Just Say Now!

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It looks as if, on 2nd November 2010, a small but very significant part of the world will at last come to its senses and legalise cannabis.

On that date, California voters look likely to approve Proposition 19 on the state-wide ballot that legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.  Currently the polls show that about two-thirds of voters are in favour.

Over the age of 21 it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate an area of up to 25 sq ft on private property.  The state estimates it will collect about £1.4 billion pa in new tax revenue.  save $200 million pa in law enforcement costs and generate an additional $12 – $18 billion pa for California’s economy, with 60,000 to 110,000 new jobs.   As the Americans say, with one of their most unpleasant expressions, “It’s a no brainer”.

In America they finally seem to have got past listening to the stupid scare stories and propaganda about the cannabis plant.  The misinformation has ranged from the idea that marijuana makes white women promiscuous with black men to the suggestion that it causes psychosis in adolescents.  Both of these ideas are as impossible to prove as each other.  America also  recognises the huge medicinal benefits of cannabis with medical marijuana legal in 14 states and planned in 15 more.   As a recreational drug,  cannabis use is almost never associated with the sort of anti-social behaviour that alcohol causes.   It produces an essentially peaceful, happy and soporific effect.

Instead of insulting and ignoring their scientific experts as we do in the UK, Americans are now more interested in the facts and a pragmatic approach to drugs policy.  The “war on drugs” is now universally recognised as having been an abject failure.  We should, of course, have learned from the experience of alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century.  That created the whole idea of gangsters and organised crime.  We managed to repeat the same mistakes all over again with drugs.

In ironic appreciation of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say Nc” campaign, those in favour of Proposition 19 have adopted the slogan “Just Say Now”.  In addition to the direct financial benefits, the state expects to be able to focus police priorities on violent crime, cut off funding to violent drug cartels and better protect children, road users, workers and patients from illegal, unregulated use.

The UK will eventually follow down this inevitable path.   The only questions are how many lives will we ruin and how much time and money will we waste before we finally get there?

See here for the latest updates and news on Proposition 19.