A War on Drugs Is a Battle We Can Never Win

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

A War on Drugs Is a Battle We Can Never Win


Byline: Sebastian Shakespeare

DAME Judi Dench, Kathy Burke, Julie Christie, Sting, Sir Richard Branson and Mike Leigh are all national treasures, each and every one of them, but what do they know about affairs of state? All of them have just petitioned David Cameron to decriminalise the possession of drugs. On this occasion the celebrities are right. Even more persuasive voices are out there banging the drum for drugs legalisation: they include the ex-presidents of Colombia, Switzerland and Brazil, a former Secretary General of the UN and a former US Secretary of State.

After a century of war on narcotics, everyone concedes prohibition doesn't work. The only people who benefit are the drug lords. They harvest all the profit while crime flourishes. Meanwhile, users continue to die because of toxic impurities. Our courts and prisons are packed with young offenders, at vast cost to society and the taxpayer.

Nearly 80,000 were last year convicted or cautioned for drug offences.

But nobody seems to know what to do next. Government reports are commissioned that recommend radical reform of drugs policy but they are then kicked into the long grass (excuse the herbal pun). Politicians are powerless to make bold decisions for fear of alienating voters or incurring hostile media coverage.

Surely the time has come at least to experiment with drug legalisation, even if only for a limited period? …

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A War on Drugs Is a Battle We Can Never Win
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