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Comments

Rob,
Sounds ideal but there aren't easy answers. Alcohol abuse delivers death rates higher than some class A drugs per 1000 users - would legalisation lead to more usage of the legitimised drugs and therefore increase death rates as usage increased? Who would manufacture & sell a drug that causes psychosis in a world of lawyers and compensation? How would we stop legally aquired drugs getting to minors - we can't with cigarettes, alcohol or fireworks? Would we have red light districts to take drugs in state sponsored drug dens? Would you want one in the next street?

Ted Coffin

Above was from me - don't know why it came out anon

Andrew

If you want an example of what happens when a state removes criminal drug possession penalties, look to Portugal. They did in 2001, and the result is entirely positive.

Rob: the issue of drugs being accessible to minors exists at present. With no government control over drug sales, they're almost as freely available as alcohol (and after 9pm, even more freely). A friend of mine once found that in a small Scottish town he could get cocaine easily, but regulation meant alcohol was unavailable. That's an absurd situation, the classic example of government social engineering having the exact opposite effects of those intended (extend the comparison to the welfare state, there are plenty of analogical links).

As a result of this, our heroin users often get addicted in their mid teens - thirty years of prohibition has resulted in the highest drug death rate in Europe. Since deaths correlate closely to the extent of other substance abuse health effects, those figures are only the tip of a giant iceberg in this country.

It's time we stopped burying our heads in the sand and pretending criminal sanction is the answer. Decades of this have shown it to be a complete failure, yet we still have politicians pandering to moronic tabloids like the Mail/Express, expressing their support for the same old failed policies. A Conservative government should instinctively grasp that social engineering simply doesn't work - that sort of failed nanny state welfarism/paternalism should be for the Labourites.

a-tracy

So using your argument Andrew when the government finally gets around to banning smoking in pubs and when the State removes criminal drug possession penalties, we can look forward to our younger generation snorting lines or popping E's instead of puffing nicotine (after all they're only harming themselves).

Seriously Andrew if it did just affect the silly weak people that feel the need to take mind altering substances I believe most people would say go on then get on with it, but it doesn't I know a family wrecked when their twenty year old son hung himself when high because his girlfriend had left him! I know a young boy whose mother died of drug abuse when he was 10 then his father died when he was 13 of drug abuse.

They are not using the criminal sanctions available unless the people are lying, stealing and mugging old people to feed their bad habits.

Sam

I think everyones getting side tracked. No ones calling on bringing harm to society by legalising all these risque substances (at least I'm not).

The point is when you have Ecstasy classed in the same category as Heroin it demeans the spirit of the law. Its a sad fact that large proportions of British youth have dabbled in Ecstasy but the message the law currently sends to them is that Heroin is no more dangerous and of equal risk. These people, being habitual law breakers will think nothing of moving from one to the other, and will be unable to accurately assess the level of risk they are applying to themselves while the law fails to proportionally differentiate between the two.

Also let's be honest, how many people do we know who have died of Alcohol or Tobacco related disease. Compare this figure to those that have died from Ecstasy. This last point is not a suggestion to legalise but to understand that as Conservatives, we must try to balance a duty to protect the vulnerable in society with the freedom of the individual (& shunning the dangerous nanny-state). Wouldn't legally produced Ecstasy/Marijuana pose roughly equal risks to Alcohol/Tobacco?

If a minority of consenting (& educated) adults want to abuse themselves in this manner shouldn't we let them do so as long as they only harm themselves in the process? I'd rather face this scenario than New Labour's tendancy to ban everything from hunting, smoking in pubs, junk food advertising, etc. Where will it all end? - a passive, stupid nation who's mental faculty will have retarted from having gone so long without thinking for themselves.

a-tracy

Sam, with some trepidation - I fear I'm becoming a bit of an anti-drug zealot here - I want to know what the ConservativeHome contributors want?

Do you want to be told 'go ahead do a toke or an E, it can harm you but only 20 people a year die so it's not that risky - go on take a risk - it's yours to take'?

Do you want drugs to be classed as U, W, X, Y, Z. 'U' if taken in single doses will cause you to become addicted in three years - could cause heart problems, psycological problems maybe with a 25% chance. Whilst 'Z' is deadly in six months!

What I want to know is how many teens & twenties are treated in A&E's each week, who recover but never the less cost us all to treat? I can't abide excess binge drinking or excess smoking either but it's too late to do anything about these excesses now isn't it? and don't forget it's taken forty years to realise the cost and how bad the smoking habit is, and those that started smoking as a crutch at 14 just can't simply give up! Even though now they'll tell you they wished they'd never got hooked in the first place.

The people who produce E's are in business. Once they've created the market and developed the craving who is to stop them changing the chemical composition of the drug so that it becomes even more addictive - think about it.

Barbara Villiers

Well done A-Tracey. I cannot believe the obdurate behaviour of these drug apologists. We are not just talking about deaths from ecstasy - we are talking about the psychological effects - the depression, the paranoia and the delusions. And how callous to say the Leah Betts story is 'old'-I bet there is not a minute of the day when her poor parents don't think about it.

Quite honestly, if you are over 21 do what you want to your wretched brains and bodies -but don't inflict it on young people whose brains and bodies are still developing. Maybe a two tiered law is worth considering -so that all you who are inclined to burn your brains out can do so with impunity - I couldn't care less about such idiots - but I do know that reclassifying ecstasy would have a hugely damaging effect on young people.

[quote]
Do you want to be told 'go ahead do a toke or an E, it can harm you but only 20 people a year die so it's not that risky - go on take a risk - it's yours to take'?
[quote]

Precisely.

[quote]And how callous to say the Leah Betts story is 'old'[/quote]

The important point about the leah betts case is she did not die from taking mdma, she died from a water overdose, hyponatraemia, a victim of the drug information push that essentially stated remember to drink water. People got the idea that water was somehow an antidote to mdma's effects.

What's really sad is that mdma users are still dieing because they drink far too mcuh water.

Jon

I am conservative. I am a regular smoker of cannabis, and take max. 2 Es per month. I have a first class physics degree from Imperial College, I work hard, I pay my taxes, and I cannot conceive of a love greater than that I have for my friends, family and life itself. In short, I am a happy, productive, well-balanced individual. Far more well balanced (and richer - pot and E are both far cheaper in terms of effect vs cost!) than many of my mate's who routinely binge drink on the government's legal drug alcohol. Yet if the law had it's way, I should be in prison (or heavily fined, at the very least).

Our current classification of drugs is, quite simply, a joke. When will people realise that the only way any kind of criminilisation will have ANY impact on young people's behaviour is if it held as a realistic reflection of the relative danger of different drugs? How can amphetamine, a drug that causes chronic dependance, psychosis, agressive and unpredictable behaviour (just look at the US and asian Meth epidemic if you don't believe me) be a class B drug whilst Ecstasy, a drug that I truly believe in most cases opens ones mind, gives real personal insight and produces nothing but postive effects in the short term, is class A? It is so sad that our city centres are no-go areas on friday and saturday for older people due to the fear of being punched in the face by a binge drinker - the only risk you'd run if those people were "high" on Pot and/or Es instead would be receiving a big hug (albeit probably a slightly sweaty one!).

The simple truth is that Ecstasy is only ever fatal due to its illegaility and misinformation. Leah Betts tragically died because she lacked proper information, other deaths have been wholly due to one of three factors: water intoxication, dehydration or adulterants. The number of people who are exceptionally sensitive and have an allergic reaction to E and drop dead with one strong pill is so few it is barely worth considering. Such a genetic weakness (caused incidentally by a deficiency in the CYP26D liver enzyme) could be tested for anyhow. So you see, it is not E that is so dangerous it is the joke that is the law.

I will accept that at high doses ecstasy is probably neurotoxic (i.e. it "burns" bit of your brain away). However, the threshold dose at which this occurs is still a moot point amongst experts and many agree that taking a typical strength pure E will not do you any harm at all. Hence, I never take more than 2, but once again the illegality is the problem: I cannot be sure the exact dose I am taking as I have no means of measuring the exact quantity of MDMA in a pill. There is strong evidence that there are medications able to protect against neurotoxicity anyway (specifically the class of antidepressants called SSRIs), but we need more research. Also, vitiman C and a nutrient called 5HTP are also shown to be partially or fully protective.

Drugs and addiction are NOT a legal issue at all I believe - police and politicians are simply not educated to deal with decision making surrounding them - they are purely a medical problem. If you are a smack head, you are not a criminal, you are simply ill and need treatment not locking up. This is so glaringly obvious to me that it makes my blood boil when people say things like "all filfthy druggies just need locking up." Roll on the day I can go to my GP and get pure MDMA BP 100mg tablets on prescription. "Deglamourise" drugs in this way and we will be a far safer and happier society I promise you.

jon

Just one more point, we probably have ecstasy to thank for the fact that methamphetamine has not really crossed the pond from north america YET. Es are cheap, generally of good quality and readily available in the UK, something that cannot be said for most of north america. Believe me though, when meth does take its devastating grip here, which it is, insidiously and largely to the ignorance of politicians, the goverment will soon push amphetamine to class A and ecstasy to class B!! This drug truly does destroy: see www.facesofmeth.us.

Andrew

Sorry Jon, facts are not welcomed in the drugs debate. Just kowtow to the consensus, and we can carry on with the highest drug death rate in Europe (13 times higher per capita than the Dutch).

On any other policy, 40 years of comprehensive failure would condemn it to the scrapheap. Instead all we hear proposed is more of the same drivel, motivated not by rational consideration of the subject but by authoritarian contempt for the media-created "druggie".

Gareth

Can't recall if there's an award for rapid rebutal of the contest, but if there is, this surely qualifies:

Barbara:

"When you are as qualified as I am to discuss this [drugs] properly I'll listen to you."

Tom replied:

"I have worked with police forces, gang units and social policy Academics across the US, South America and in the UK, made a few documentaries on gangs and the subject of worldwide distribution of drugs and just generally been very interested in the failure of our current policy on drugs."

Priceless.


stinky

One day there may actually be comments taken seriously which are written by somebody who is aware of the facts.That clearly isnt the case here.
I doubt any of yous has even seen an ecstacy pill let alone take one.

MUPPETS

stinky

One day there may actually be comments taken seriously which are written by somebody who is aware of the facts.That clearly isnt the case here.
I doubt any of yous has even seen an ecstacy pill let alone take one.

MUPPETS

yo dawg

drugs are interesting not bad

John

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