Connie, 70, Campaigns for Legal Recreational Drugs

Connie, 70, Campaigns for Legal Recreational Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on June 30, 2003 at 17:51:18 PT
By Gaby Hinsliff, Chief Political Correspondent
Source: Observer UK
A retired surgeon will lead calls this week for ecstasy and other recreational drugs to be legalised in a bid to stamp out violent crime fuelled by the drugs trade. Selling purified forms over the counter, alongside alcohol and cigarettes, would make drugtaking safer and could benefit the community at large, according to 70-year-old Connie Fozzard, who will emerge as the rather unlikely champion of the cause.
Although Fozzard's motion to the British Medical Association's annual conference is sure to divide opinions of her colleagues, she believes it is time for a public debate over 'nanny state' attitudes. She says that crimes committed by addicts to pay for their habits were terrifying the elderly. 'The object of this exercise is to get rid of crime and disruption because it would be legal to use the drugs but not to cause disruption as a result of that, in just the same way as alcohol,' said Fozzard, who also serves as mayor of Truro. 'That would make a level playing field. I think there is something to be said for that and I think there should be a debate about it. At the moment you have got so many people who are frightened in their own homes and frightened out of them, who are housebound simply because of the muggings and burglaries which are done to fuel a habit.' Legalising the production of drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy could also deliver doses free of the contaminants often 'cut' into illegally produced substances to maximise profits. 'There is an element of ensuring that what is used is purified and standardised,' she added. 'And if it goes through licensed premises then it can be taxed just like alcohol. If it were taxed, you could control the quantity that is released on the market. It would take this stuff off the street.' The motion calls for the expansion of 'the range of legal recreational drugs available beyond alcohol and tobacco which are quality controlled and taxable'. It is likely to trigger argument, with mental health specialists in particular concerned about the long-term impact of cannabis and ecstasy use: the BMA advised against legalising cannabis when it gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee last year. However Fozzard, who forged an impressive career in surgery in an era when it was dominated almost exclusively by an 'old boys' network', is likely to be unfazed. 'My own view is somewhat mixed on this. I can see both sides of the arguments, but I think it's an argument that should get out into the public voice,' she said. Last year's select committee report rejected legalisation but recommended the downgrading of ecstasy - currently a Class A drug, like heroin - to a Class B, with less severe penalties for possession. Ministers rejected the advice but have agreed to downgrade cannabis from Class B to Class C, the least strictly regulated category for prohibited drugs. However the Home Office remains strictly opposed to legalisation. Many experts argue cannabis is less dangerous than tobacco, despite evidence linking it to schizophrenia and mental illness. Ecstasy use was linked to more than 40 deaths in 2001, with research showing it may cause long-term depression. However one study of 81 ecstasy-related deaths between 1997 to 2000 found only six died from ecstasy poisoning alone, with 50 having consumed a cocktail of drugs. The rest were down to heart failure, trauma or accidents such as drowning while under the influence. The Government should be 'treating people as adults and not treating adults as children in their own homes', said Fozzard, who began to be interested in the effects of recreational drugtaking while working in obstetrics and gynaecology. A midwife at her hospital conducted research into drugtaking among mothers of babies needing special care. She had thought it might apply in around two per cent of cases: it turned out to be nearer 10 per cent. Observer Special: Drugs Uncovered:,11908,686419,00.htmlSource: Observer, The (UK)Author: Gaby Hinsliff, Chief Political CorrespondentPublished: Sunday, June 29, 2003Copyright: 2003 The ObserverContact: letters Articles & Web Site:Drugs Uncovered: Observer Special Calls for New Drug Laws of Cannabis Put Off Till Next Year Urges Leniency for Cannabis Growers
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