Reform Drug Laws for Our Children's Sake

Reform Drug Laws for Our Children's Sake
Posted by FoM on January 17, 2002 at 10:21:58 PT
By Simon Jenkins
Source: Evening Standard
Drug reformers once had a dream vision. It was the sons of the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and heir to the throne all caught sharing a spliff in a pub off the Charing Cross Road. The reformers pleaded: "Hear the toffs crying, 'Just say no!' and their offspring sneering back, 'Got an attitude problem, dad? Get a new head'." It has not come to pass, not quite. But great-and-good parents are now moving into that dangerous age of 45-55 when their children are teenagers. 
This is a stage in life when parents are most vulnerable. Steely Conservatives are reduced to desperate, tear-stained liberals. They are at risk to "gateway reform" and seem ready to experiment with anything, even a change in the drugs laws. Just as London's public transport would improve overnight if ministers and media executives lost their limousines, so the drink and drugs laws are suddenly up for debate now that William Straw, Euan Blair and Prince Harry are all found in urgent need of parental "care and attention". Police cautions for drugs offences are all the rage. Why ruin a bright lad's chances with a criminal record? Why indeed. Reform is bursting out all over. After David Blunkett's suggested reclassification of cannabis, the pressure is on to reclassify ecstasy, absurdly still a Class A drug. The police are officially demanding that heroin go back on prescription. In London, the race is on between Brixton and Camden Lock to host the first cannabis cafe, with local dealers up in arms, literally, against the idea. Camden Council has pleaded to the House of Commons drugs inquiry for licensed premises to help handle London's 8,000 (or far more) hard drug addicts. The Government has been told it is losing 1 billion a year in failing to levy cigarette tax on marijuana. I remain hardline on these drugs. Having served on the recent Runciman Committee on the Misuse of Drugs Act, I have no doubt that cannabis is not "harmless", though it is not very harmful. Ecstasy is too easily adulterated and needs quality control. Cocaine is a powerful narcotic whose availability must be restricted. Crack is a physical, mental and social menace and heroin is a killer. No parents want their children touching these substances. That is precisely why the present free market in drugs is a scandal and why it must be reformed and properly regulated. These drugs are cheaper than ever in recent history. They are freely available. The chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Kent's Sir David Phillips, is frank. "The system has failed. We have an out-of-control drugs industry and it is time to try a new approach." I used to be a libertarian, regarding what adults do with their bodies as their own business. But the danger to young people is now beyond tolerating. Drugs must be decriminalised and regulated. The question is simple. Are we proud of London's reputation as the drugs capital of Europe? Do we want to continue with the present open market, plagued with violenceand police corruption, or do we want it restricted by the state? The present market is not just on the street, outside every school, college and club. It is in every locker room and pub lavatory. Drugs are sold on the "Tupperware" system, door-to-door at parties and sleep-overs. Cannabis and ecstasy, the basis of 90 per cent of London's drugs market, have the most sophisticated distribution network of any product in the capital. Reformers should be careful what they do. London's drugs market is a major source of wealth in the capital's poorest communities, especially black and immigrant ones. Drug distribution props up thousands of small businesses, not just pubs and clubs but van operators and "front" retailers. Many respectable parents are housing informal "dope dens" in the reasonable belief that their children are safer there from police and dealers than on the streets. They might think the present system is the lesser of evils. Certainly, if cannabis and ecstasy sales outlets can be established and regulated in an effort to cut out the big dealers, licensing cannabis cafes might be not worth the hassle. The dope cafes made no big difference to Dutch consumption, largely because the law makes little difference to consumption anywhere. What matters is not cannabis consumption, it is isolating the market in these low-harm products from, above all, heroin. This is urgent. The toppling of the Taliban, which America had successfully bribed to stop growing opium, seems certain to restart the flood of cheap Afghan heroin onto the European market. The Home Office is criminally negligent in leaving London children buying cannabis from the same people as will push this heroin. We might as well lace baby food with alcohol. This is the true "drugs gateway", not narcotic but commercial. The argument for legalising so-called soft drugs is to achieve what the experts call market separation. It underpins all drugs-reform programmes in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. I am inclined to think that cannabis and ecstasy are beyond regulation. All government can hope to do is tax supply and thus restrict demand. All attention should be at the "top" end of the market, on cocaine and heroin. I have no doubt about crack houses. The police are right to regard them as a social evil. They should be driven off the face of London and their victims swept into rehabilitation. But heroin holds the key. London's heroin epidemic is one of the worst in the world. The authorities must handle it as they might a killer disease. It is far more dangerous than foot-and-mouth or BSE, on which billions have been wasted. The police chiefs are right. The pre-1974 system of legitimate, controlled supply of heroin must be restored. Dealers must be undercut and driven out of business, and addicts brought within the scope of detoxification and rehabilitation. This can only be done by licensed supply. Most of Europe is now doing this. London must start. Until that happens, every child is at risk. If you want to know what I mean, ask the Prince of Wales. Source: London Evening Standard (UK)Author: Simon JenkinsPublished: January 17, 2002Copyright: 2002 Associated Newspapers Ltd.Contact: letters Articles:Parental Problems and Cannabis Law Law Must Align With Public Opinion Model for UK Drug Laws 
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Comment #5 posted by aocp on January 17, 2002 at 17:48:41 PT
Right on
The Home Office is criminally negligent in leaving London children buying cannabis from the same people as will push this heroin. We might as well lace baby food with alcohol. This is the true "drugs gateway", not narcotic but commercial. The argument for legalising so-called soft drugs is to achieve what the experts call market separation.Exactly. This is why it's such a joke to call drug prohibition the same thing as drug control. Take about 1/2 second to think about it and anyone should come to the conclusion that prohibition is actually actively NOT controlling the substance in any way. In fact, such action is the same thing as giving control to the criminals. This could hardly be considered good public policy. Leave it to the sheep to gloss over this glaring hole in their ridiculous rhetoric.
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Comment #4 posted by Industrial Strength on January 17, 2002 at 16:11:23 PT
Far too few articles like this appear in any form of media, be it mass or even magazines like high times. It was not only well written but non partisan, even non drug users can see the logic in this, as opposed to most of the "end the drug war" type articles which I think alot of anti's or people on the fence cant relate to. Props to Simon Jenkins and the London Evening Standard.
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Comment #3 posted by QcStrt on January 17, 2002 at 14:24:48 PT
            Mother Govt.
For your own good the US govt. will not let you have a Passport
to travel anywhere. The rest of the world are terrorist, 
In there eyes. If you are looking to go to a country that has 
legal POT or anything eles.
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Comment #2 posted by herbdoc215 on January 17, 2002 at 13:17:13 PT:
We are very close to winning in EU!
When the Evening Standard prints articles like this we are closer than they want too winning. The US has now became the little dutch boy with his finger in the dike, and holding on with as much tenacity. When EU does go down the mass exodous and tourism will blow US minds as there is an army of us out there who only want to be free to live as we see fit. This new face of prejudice masked as anti-drug laws are being seen as exactly the author describes... Classism and how right he is that this (plus Colin and them having guts to take it too them ) will end cannabis prohibition soon. Guess I better get ready to move again. When will they realize we only want to be left alone? Steve Tuck 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 17, 2002 at 11:29:20 PT
A wall dropper.
The world is getting into a worst possition, with this drug war problem...the only way out is to disassociate with the menace policy induced by the good ol boys in the US.
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