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The seriously inconvenient truth on drugs

For those who warmly applaud Gordon Brown’s declared desire to toughen up the law on cannabis, raising it from a Class C to Class B drug, there is always a simple question.

How would you react if your son, or perhaps your grandchild – otherwise law-abiding and blameless citizens – were caught with that drug and at once thrown in a cell and charged with a serious offence which resulted, if not in prison, at least in a criminal record which endangered future employment?

Perhaps you would protest in your grief that you did not believe the sterner law would affect your own family.

What you would certainly not do is praise the tougher regime, declaring how glad you are that your offspring now faces up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine, or both. That’ll learn them!

Such a maximum penalty, by the way, would be just for possession. To deal in a Class B drug, which might mean no more than selling some of your cannabis to a friend, could mean up to 14 years in prison.

These are the sort of penalties we normally associate with conspiring to cause an explosion, violent bank robberies, armed assaults and so on.

If you say that such savage sentences would not be imposed then why are they so recently endorsed by the Home Office? This merely makes the law look an ass.

The full absurdity of the drug laws does not end there. Ecstasy is ranked as a Class A drug.

Mere possession can mean seven years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Which means that nightclubs are packed with serious criminals. My own experience of ecstasy is very modest.

I was unknowingly fed a tablet once. It left me full of beans for most of the night but the comedown the next day was tiresome.

On the other hand, it really was not as bad as a hangover. Which brings us to the next absurdity.

There is no evidence that taking drugs such as cannabis or ecstasy is any more addictive or damaging than constant and heavy drinking.

Many of us have witnessed the unattractive phenomenon of indignant – usually elderly – individuals denouncing drugs as they down their third double scotches.

Heavy drinking is at least as harmful to the health of mind and body as drug-taking. Which of us does not know of some tragic case of an addiction to the bottle destroying a marriage, a career or a life?

But no one suggests this makes the case for prohibition. Soft drugs lead on to hard drugs, some claim.

They might or they might not. Wine may also start the downward path to alcoholism.

Moreover, heavy drinking can unleash savagery in some, especially in the home; cannabis is more likely to make the drug-taker silly.

Of course, any drug-taker who drives must be punished – as in the case of a drinker who gets behind the wheel when over the limit. But that is not under debate at the moment.

About half of the young admit to using, or having used, cannabis and/or ecstasy. About half the Cabinet admit to having been users when young.

The other half may deny it but some of us have our doubts – though not in the case of Gordon Brown. He is too joyless by nature to have even tried.

However, crucially, applause by the zealous and high-minded for a drugs crackdown is quite drowned out by the noisy cheers from another quarter – the drugs suppliers; in particular, the obscenely wealthy drugs barons of South America.

Their wealth and power is wholly dependent on drugs being illegal.

This is why drugs will have to be legalised at some time – but controlled like tobacco and appropriately taxed.

Prohibition was the biggest single boost to gangsterism the U.S. ever experienced.

With huge sums at their disposal, the bootleggers corrupted the police, the courts, the judiciary and politicians.

No one was keener on Prohibition then, or the criminalisation of drugs now, than the mafia.
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source: The Daily Mail

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