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Simon Jenkins rant in the Sunday Times

The really tough way to control drugs is to license them by Simon Jenkins in the Times Online (UK) is a delightful ranting OpEd that skewers prohibitionists over and over for their failures, and faults politicians for lacking the guts to act on legalizing and licensing drugs.
The whole thing is an enjoyable read, but here are a few excerpts:

The drug market is totally unregulated and as a result totally dangerous. Welcome to 10 years of Tony Blair’s “war on drugs”. […]
British drugs policy is a disaster. Parliament’s refusal for more than a third of a century even to amend the prohibitionist 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act is the most damning comment on the state of politics today, in thrall to the tabloid mob. The 1971 act must be the only criminal justice statute not to have been rewritten a dozen times by Tory and Labour governments. Charles Clarke and John Reid pass four terrorism acts a year, yet not one to tackle the drug market. The act contributes to the deaths of hundreds of young people each year. It stokes violent crime and impoverishes families and communities, while giving Britain the biggest prison population in Europe. Yet nobody in politics has the guts to touch it. […]
The Dutch and Swiss have achieved significant reductions in heroin addiction by treatment through controlled prescription. They have also achieved a marked fall in crime by addicts. Yet Downing Street seems unable to “join up” its drugs policy as can other countries.
Not just policemen but judges, prison reformers and charities such as DrugScope, Drugsline, Addaction, Adapt, and Action on Addiction cry continually for a review of policy. There have been enough independent reviews to fill a library. […] Yet all Vernon Coaker, the hapless drugs minister, could reply was that drugs policy was “a matter of political judgment”. In other words, he had delegated it to the staff of The Sun.
This week an international group of present and former police chiefs called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is in Britain to lobby for reform. Jack Cole, its American spokesman, points out that when alcohol prohibition was ended in 1933 “we put Al Capone out of business overnight — and we can do the same to the drug lords and terrorists who make over $500 billion a year selling illegal drugs round the world”. […]
The prohibition lobby has held the floor for more than 30 years and has run out of both arguments and time. The home secretary could hire gangs of vigilantes to roam every community and shoot drug users on sight. This might increase street prices, stem consumption for a year or two and deter some middle-class offspring. But this is not serious debate. Southeast Asia has capital punishment for drug use and yet drug use is rife. […]
There must be more drug enforcement bureaucrats in Whitehall and police headquarters across the country, achieving nothing, than there are workers combating addiction in the field.
The prohibitionists think that by passing laws they are curing a problem. […]
Britain must find a way of legalising supplies. Only then can smuggling and racketeering be suppressed. How this is achieved is a subsidiary matter and a good subject for a committee. But the prohibitionist softies must first be outgunned. They are the true enemies of drug control. This market will never go away. The only tough policy is to regulate it.
More people die each year from adulterated drugs than from terrorism. The cost of prohibition both to the state and to the community is colossal. The illicit market in drugs undermines Britain’s communities and subverts British values far more than any Muslim cleric or rucksack bomber.
It will never be confronted until the counterproductive prohibitionist 1971 act is repealed.

Bravo! Powerful stuff. (I particularly got a kick out of the digs: “in thrall to the tabloid mob” and “delegated it to the staff of The Sun.”)

[thanks, Casey]

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