Legalize It 

Legalize It 
Posted by FoM on April 06, 2000 at 17:39:57 PT
The Daily Telegraph (London), March 30, 2000 
Source: National Review
The Government proposes to ignore the recommendations of Lady Runciman's report, Drugs and the Law. The report suggests that the penalties for the possession of illegal drugs should be reduced, even though supplying them would remain a serious offence. This probably is mistaken. After all, it is the power of the criminal suppliers that is the worst thing about the present situation. 
Lady Runciman's idea would be likely to have the unintended effect of giving them an even bigger market. Nevertheless, we are moving reluctantly to the view that Lady Runciman is asking the right questions. The "war against drugs" of which politicians and police officers like to speak resembles those permanent wars between superpowers that are a feature of George Orwell's 1984: it is never won, though its "victories" are constantly trumpeted. There is a very big demand for drugs that cannot be curtailed by law, and there are possibilities for supply so great that the law can do no more than push the price up. There are several grim results of this: The dealers, often violent gangsters, make fortunes and take over whole urban neighbourhoods. They also control prostitution, carry out robberies and assaults, and, let the Chancellor note, pay no tax. Because the suppliers are criminals, there is no quality control. The health risks of the drugs, in some cases great, are increased because they are produced by bootleggers. Vast amounts of police time are consumed fighting the unwinnable war. Sometimes, the police are corrupted by drug dealers. Respect for the law and the police is diminished because people can see that the policy does not work. More and more people, despite prohibition, use drugs. Young people do not find it hard to obtain drugs, but they do associate the drug habit with illegality. They therefore enter a culture in which illegality is regarded as a good, or at least a necessary thing. It is sad that hundreds of thousands of otherwise reasonable young people are tempted into committing a crime. The case against the status quo is therefore strong. The counter-case goes as follows: Drugs do terrible harm, and sometimes kill. If they were legal, more people would use them: perhaps more people would die. Parents need legal support for their efforts to prevent their children from taking drugs. Without that support, they would feel powerless. The drug "culture" is an unpleasant, stupid, amoral one against which society should set its face. It is an attack on decency and should be repudiated. Anyone of a conservative cast of mind is bound to take these objections to reform seriously. Few can positively like the idea of drugs becoming accepted, and it should surely be admitted that legalisation, in the short though not in the long term, would lead to wider consumption. Respectable prejudice must be in favour of a society where these substances are generally rejected. And yet, and yet. We increasingly incline to the view that the banning of all drugs causes more harm than good. People like substances that alter their mood, and only strict puritans believe that they should never use any of them. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine or beer, even the odd cigarette are among the legitimate pleasures of life. The reason that they do not do much harm is that they have been socialised  they are surrounded by customs and manners and jokes and friendship and all the things which make life tolerable. Alcohol and tobacco remain lethal, and alcohol, unlike tobacco, has the power to destroy the character of the person who uses it: it does so for tens of thousands of people in this country every year. Are drugs fundamentally different? It is difficult to see why they should be, although some, taken in certain ways, are more toxic than any legal form of drink (heroin, for example, is a very long way indeed from half a pint of bitter). Given that we live in an age in which the drugs of the world have found their way to our shores, surely the truly conservative answer to the problem is to find ways of acclimatising drugs to bourgeois society rather than yelling vainly into the wind. Any politician will be only too conscious how tricky this process could be and how electorally vulnerable it could make him. The total legalisation, licensing, medical inspection and commercial sale of all drugs to grown-ups  which in a way is the most logical reform  carries far too much political risk, and could cause enormous alarm. The first thing to do is to have a proper public debate. This is why Lady Runciman should not be getting the brush-off from the Government. The second thing to do, we tentatively suggest, is to experiment with legalisation. As with the abolition of capital punishment, the thing should be tried out for a period, so that Parliament could easily vote to restore the penalties if the experiment failed. But on that basis, we would argue that the Government should draw up plans to legalise cannabis  generally accepted as the least dangerous of the drugs that are widely used  both for its consumption and for its supply. We do not pretend that this would lead to an end, or even a diminution, of the horrors of addiction. These, after all, are appallingly present with legal alcohol. But we do think that it would start to take power away from criminals, restore a respect for the law, and encourage the drug-affected generations to grow up. National Review 215 Lexington Avenue New York, New York 10016 212- 679-7330 Related Articles:Pot Pol to Legalize Pot Let's Admit the Drug Law is a Bad Trip
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 06, 2000 at 19:46:56 PT
I made a mistake wrong country oops!
Glad you liked the title legalizeit! LOL!I made a mistake and put Canadian article links with the UK and I'm sorry. It is a nice problem to have though. So much happening that I mixed up the countries! It's better then nothing happening for sure!Peace, FoM!Bill To Decriminalise Cannabis Goes To Parliament Coffee Shops Proposed of Struggle Fails To Curb Drugs Let's Go Dutch? in Britain: Special Report High Spots in History - U.K. - BBC
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on April 06, 2000 at 18:46:03 PT
Good article title!
I wish G.B. luck in their legalisation efforts - I'm sure it'll happen there before it does here in the U.S.. Looks like they have the same kinds of political tension over the issue but at least they don't have a retired general paying off the mass media to trumpet his B.S.I couldn't help reacting to the Reefer Madness stuff (although I know the author only stuck it in there to "balance" the article)...>Drugs do terrible harm, and sometimes kill. If they were legal, more people would use them: perhaps more people would die. Drug laws do far more harm than drugs ever will. The drug most mentioned in the drug war has never killed anyone. Ask people whose relatives were knocked off by drug lords or overzealous cops what they think about the drug war.>Parents need legal support for their efforts to prevent their children from taking drugs. Without that support, they would feel powerless. Under a sensible legalisation policy drugs would still be off-limits to minors and parents would have all the support they need.>The drug "culture" is an unpleasant, stupid, amoral one against which society should set its face. It is an attack on decency and should be repudiated.More Reefer Madness stereotyping. Most participants in the drug "culture" are normal people leading normal lives. Replace "culture" with "war" and the statement sounds much better.
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