The "war on drugs" is irrevocably lost
At the weekend I read that we are to start paying Afghan farmers in Helmand province not to grow poppies, using a system based on the Common Agricultural Policy (great - 2 CAPs). Today, 50 premises are being raided by the police in search of drugs. Does anybody seriously believe either will make a scrap of difference?
For decades, the "war on drugs" has failed. Now and then we hear of a made-up-figure's worth of something being seized off some dinghy somewhere, but at no time has there ever been any significant or lasting impact on the availability of illegal drugs. Anyone, any of you, who wants to obtain drugs could find where get hold of them with little effort and virtually no risk of prosecution. The reason for this is very simple - public demand. People want them. No amount of moralising is ever going to change that.
The illegality of drugs places a tremendous burden on users and non-users alike, both in terms of the enormous cost of failed interventions and crime. The illegal nature of drug supply means that the suppliers are the same groups involved in various forms of smuggling, extortion and violence.
Now it's perfectly possible to sustain an opiate addiction for decades and maintain a 'normal' life. This is well documented. The bulk of the risk associated with class A drug use is assocated with the crap they cut them with and uncertainty over the dose. Nonetheless, if drugs were legalised today, some 'new' people would die, and some 'new' lives would be affected. However, there is no reason to believe that the overall burden on society would be any greater than those associated with alcohol or tobacco today. Good old capitalism would even bring the price down through competition, easing or removing the link between drug use and crime.
So, is it time to recognise the inevitable, that illegal drugs are firmly and irreversibly part of life today, whatever the law? Before you tell me that 'drugs are evil' and I must have tried some and so on, you are going to have to come up with some new way of controlling drug use that is different from the failed and discredited policies of the present. Do you have a real alternative?
By the way - I have no conflict of inyerest here, in case you were wondering. I have never ingested an illegal substance in my life.