For the last three days, I’ve been completely out of touch — no news, no email, no phone, no computer. It was tough. But it was also refreshing.
But now I’m back, and I thought that maybe you guys would have solved it all and the drug war would be over…
Not quite yet.
But this is interesting —
Julian Critchley, former director of the U.K. Cabinet Office anti-drugs unit, left a remarkable comment on a blog post, noting that on the job he had come to the conclusion that “enforcement and supply-side interventions were largely pointless.”
I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors held the same view : the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the Government would be ‘tough on drugs’, even though they all knew that the Government’s policy was actually causing harm.
I recall a conversation I had with a No 10 policy advisor about a series of Whitehall-wide announcements in which we were to emphasise the shift of resources to treatment and highlighting successes in prevention and education. She asked me whether we couldn’t arrange for ‘a drugs bust in Brighton’ at the same time, or ‘a boat speeding down the Thames to catch smugglers’. For that advisor, what worked mattered considerably less than what would play well in the Daily Mail. The tragedy of our drugs policy is that it is dictated by tabloid irrationality, and not by reference to evidence.
Critchley is now a teacher:
I find that when presented with the facts, the students I teach are quite capable of considering issues such as this, and reaching rational conclusions even if they started with a blind Daily Mail-esque approach. I find it a shame that no mainstream political party accords the electorate the same respect.
Unfortunately, we so seldom hear the truth when they’re in office.