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I can make the same case for handguns. Having them legalised and regulated would be an antidote to the proliferation of guns in the hands of the otherwise criminal.

Permitting regulated ownership among people of good character and standing would show that a free society does not reserve ownership of small arms to the outlaws in society but permits responsible adults to have recreational use of regulated handguns as throughout the history of this country

Henry Mayhew - Ancram Tory

Good article but I am surprised you don't deal with the negative impact on Britain's relations with countries who will continue to ban it.

Legalising cannabis in Britain will attract their drug dealers and give them a base from which to operate. Not too popular either there or here. Don't know the answer to it because in principle you are absolutely right.

Mark Wallace

"Otherwise the state would ban red meat, candy bars, hang-gliding, and numerous other commonplace activities."

For god's sake, don't give them ideas...

A well-argued article, lacking in only one area - it is amusing that Peter insists that we appreciate the range of different classes of drgus, but then generalises about all libertarians supposedly supporting the legalisation of all drugs. There are degrees of libertarian, too, Peter - indeed as a Whiggish Conservative that is a scale you find yourself on!

I'm glad ConservativeHome is willing to raise this issue and engage in an intelligent debate on the matter.

Tony Makara

When I was a young man I saw another young man lecture a room full of people on the evils of alcohol while at the same time praising the virtues of cannabis. A short while later this very same young man leap across the room and violently kicked a friend because he felt the friend had been staring at him. Those in the room who were enjoying a beer dragged the cannabis smoker off his victim. A friend of the cannabis smoker then told me that the young man smoking always got paranoid when smoking cannabis. Hence the attack. The events of that evening taught me a lot about cannabis. That the drug isn't the passive peace,n,love weed it is claimed to be and that it should in no way be legalized.


Good Argument.

Creating government revenue at the expense of criminals should be a no brainer.

Andrew Lilico

Mark Wallace@09:13

Actually, my name is Andrew, but thankyou for your kind remarks, anyway.

On your point about libertarians - that seems to me to be a libertarian's way of looking at matters. For example, a classic libertarian idea might be that there is pure Liberty and pure Order, and that all policy positions represent some position on a scale between these, reflecting a trade-off between liberty and order. The Libertarian favours a trade-off with a high degree of individual liberty.

The Whiggish view (at least in its Burkean/Conservative form) denies this. For the Whiggish Conservative , order is not properly contrasted with liberty, but instead with chaos. And there are not, by and large, degrees of order (though there may be degrees of authoritarianism or of tyranny) - it is only a slight exaggeration to say that order exists right up to the moment it collapses into chaos. Order and chaos are not matters of degree - the relationship is, instead, binary.

What increasing liberty may do, however, is to increase the risk of collapse from order into chaos - it may affect the security of order. So what Whiggish Conservatives seek is not high liberty accepting that this comes at the *expense* of high order (as the Libertarian), but instead the maximum degree of liberty compatible with security of order.

I believe that this distinction in analysis is crucial, and means that the Conservative Party can (and should) never be a Libertarian party. So, no. I don't agree that I am some kind of partial libertarian.

Andrew Lilico

Tony Makara@09:25

I agree that cannabis is not a harmless substance - I am persuaded that it has unpleasant psychological effects, and also enhances the risk of cancer and sterility. But, as I argued above, the fact that something is bad for you is not (within reason) a good ground for banning it. My argument turns crucially on the question of whether, in ordinary recreational quantities, cannabis is addictive (as well as bad for you). If the empirical evidence changed, and I were persuaded that, in fact, even mild forms of cannabis are materially addictive for a reasonable percentage of users at ordinary recreational quantities, I would change my view and oppose its legalisation. To me everything turns on these two points - things like heroin and cigarettes that are both addictive and destructive should be illegal; things like coffee that are addictive but not materially destructive should be legal; and things like cannabis that are destructive but not addictive should also be legal.

Tony Makara

Andrew Lilico, interesting use of semantics you employ. Words can often attach pink ribbons to reality. The fact is cannabis is a drug that causes psychosis and schizophrenia. It is also a gateway drug. I know this from watching friends during my teenage years. They would start on cannabis, before long they got bored with it and moved onto more extreme drugs. I just don't see how the legalization of cannabis has anything to do with the concept of individual freedom. This is more a question of supply creating demand and how we eradicate those that supply this poison.


We have the perfect empirical experiment in the effect of criminalising and legalising a substance.

The Prohibition showed how the act of criminalising alcohol created a whole new class of violent criminal, without having any major effect on the demand or supply of the substance. Any sensible approach to the debate on drugs would learn from the evidence.

Andrew Lilico

Tony Makara@09:58

Again, in the article above I explicitly argue that one of the current problems is that cannabis is *indeed*, as you say, a gateway drug. That is one of the reasons it should be legalized - so that it *stops* being a gateway drug.

I also agree that we need to eliminate the network of cannabis dealers. Again, this is a good reason for legalizing cannabis supply - initially, as I argue, through a state monopoly.

Incidentally - responding to Henry's point from earlier: I don't believe that the scheme as I propose it would encourage dealers to come here from abroad. Quite the reverse - Britain would cease to be an attractive location for illegal cannabiz dealers, as the product would be available legally. How many people would buy dirty, unsanitary cannabis that might be laced with heaven-knows-what from a nasty chap in a pub toilet when they would be able to buy it perfectly legally from a respectable outlet?

The Huntsman

Those who have seen people's lives ruined by cannabis will find it impossible to agree.

Nor one suspects will the so-called 'core vote' be thrilled at yet another surrender to the law breakers.

The Huntsman

Those who have seen people's lives ruined by cannabis will find it impossible to agree.

Nor one suspects will the so-called 'core vote' be thrilled at yet another surrender to the law breakers.

Tony Makara

Andrew Lilico, I can't see how having legalized pushers is any different from having illegal pushers. The only thing that would happen is that more people would have access to cannabis, more people would get bored with it, leading to more people looking for harder drugs on the black market. There is a great danger that the legalization of cannabis with 'legitimize' the use of other drugs in peoples minds. Paricularly the very young.

Tony Makara

Typo: Should read.

"There is a great danger that the legalization of cannabis will 'legitimize' the use of other drugs in peoples minds. Paricularly the very young."

Mark Wallace

Andrew- my apologies for getting your name wrong. It's a bit worrying my brain seems to have worn out so early in the day.


I just can't believe some of the above comments that perpetuate some of the moral hysterical propaganda around cannabis.Such myths stop us having a sensible science based discussion about all drugs particuarly cannabis.

First lets destroy the myth that cannabis is a gateway drug..... nonsense.In the USA around 36 million people have tried/use/are using cannabis in the last 12 years yet the estimated users of hard drugs has stayed pretty steady at around 800,000 for the last 12 years.In the UK an estimated 4-6 million have used cannabis yet the number of hard drug users is around 280,000.The fact is that a certain percentage of people are predisposed to addiction and a hard drug user is just as likley to have started on tobacco or alcohol than cannabis.

Cannabis causes sterility another myth refuted by science A recent study by Dr. Robert Block has refuted earlier research suggesting that pot lowers testosterone or other sex hormones in men or women (all of which were fouhnd to be reversible).Alcohol is the greatest cause of impotence.

I must admit to having an interest in this subject having been forced to obtain cannabis off the black market for my wife who has MS for the past 8 years.I too was brainwashed by the anti cannabis propaganda and spent many months researching this issue only to find that there is so much myth and misinformation around this issue.

Whatever your beliefs around cannabis to deny access to the many sufferers of MS,arthritis and cancer is barbaric in this day and age.I would go to prison rather than stop giving my wife this relief.When you talk about dangers first stop and think about the dangers we daily expose our loved ones to many of the pharmaceutical drugs that are prescribed.My wifes liver was nearly destroyed by such prescription drugs.

WHile we sit there sipping our Sauvignon blanc or finest malt pontificating about the dangers of cannabis how hypocritical and blind we have come about this issue of "drugs"


"Those who have seen people's lives ruined by cannabis will find it impossible to agree. "

What about those whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol? If they called for the banning of alcohol (addictive, turns people violent, removes judgement faculties, causes damage to the brain and liver), would you support that?

Yet Another Anon

For example, morphine can be prescribed for certain medical applications, but its recreational use is forbidden.
This was something that happened in the 20th century though, in the 18th and 19th centuries the British Empire produced Opium and even fought a war with China because China wouldn't buy it off the British Empire.

Most people who take illegal drugs will taje something for it anyway, many heroin addicts if they can't get heroin might well sniff glue or aerosols instead, so what's the point of trying to ban these things.

Legalisation will bring such things into the scope of taxation and remove necessities for a considerable amount of police activity which can be redirected.

With the price coming down a lot of opportunistic crimes of acquisition will drop significantly because many of these are to obtain money to ban drugs.

It shouldn't though be the way that most of the drugees want it - it should be legalised and taxed; fags are not state subsidised and they are taxed and regulated, and the same should apply to other drugs. A level playing field, strictly enforced and nothing more.

There will have to be maintenance of strict customs control with regard to countries with different rules, the UK has to respect the right of other countries to have different rules on these things including with regard to alcohol and tobacco, tobacco is a very harmful product with apparently no actual benefits yet few people suggest it should be totally banned. John Redwoods recent report proposed abolishing most restrictions on herbal medicines and abolishing many requirements for many medicines only to be available on prescription.

If opium based products were legalised it would also help regenerate places such as Afghanistan - NATO and various Afghan governments have used vast amounts of time and resources destroying Afghanistan's opium crop - the result has been poverty in Afghanistan fuelling civil war and strengthening international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.


A well argued case as always Andrew. As usual though I disagree you.

Andrew Lilico

Why am I wrong this time, malcolm?

Guido Fawkes

Not keen on this leftie "state monopoly dope supplier" stuff at all. Are there any free marketeers left in the Tory party?

With Afghanistan and opium I wonder how, in an alternative universe, the attack by a combined military force of Muslim nations on the Bordeaux and Margaux regions of France would be interpreted. With vineyard owners arrested and ancient Chateaux raised to the ground. With Muslim political leaders menacingly warning Barley Hop growers in southern England that unless they stopped processing their products into beer, that they would be next...


We should let people grow pot in their gardens for their own use. The use of hydroponics (and therefore skunks) should be curtailed though licensing grow lamps (for health and safety and carbon emissions reasons). Selling to minors should warrant an automatic custodial sentence. And adults should be allowed to make their own minds up.....

The Huntsman

Alcohol and tobacco both ruin lives it is true, but those genies have long been out of the bottle.

Why add to them?

On the gateway issue, when representing those indicted for possession of class 'A' drugs I made a point of enquiring what route had taken the offender to commence using them. Almost without exception they had started on cannabis and finding that an insufficient thrill had moved on to class 'A' drugs. All had either been supplied class 'A' drugs by their existing cannabis supplier or that supplier had introduced them to the supplier of Class 'A' drugs. Most dealers in class 'A' drugs usually had other counts on the indictment alleging supply or possession with intent to supply cannabis as well.

We have enough on our plate at the moment in terms of controversial policy so perhaps it might be thought unnecessary to add to them right now.


Because Andrew,the psychiatric disorders and other health problems are most certainly not irrelevant to this debate.In my opinion they can hardly be more relevant.How you can argue that the State should in effect sponsor Cannabis use is beyond belief.

Think about it

"Almost without exception they had started on cannabis and finding that an insufficient thrill had moved on to class 'A' drugs"

Isn't this the tired, old motorcyles/bicycles argument?

Almost all motorcyclists were keen bicycle riders until they progressed to motorbikes,
so bicycles riding must be a gateway to motorcycle riding.

Of course not, it is just that those *people* more-inclined to enjoy motorbikes are likely to have started with bicycles.

The majority of bicycle riders, just enjoy their bicycles and have no interest in the higher 'thrill' of a motorbike.

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