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Martin Sewell: Drugs have moved on, Lib Dems haven't

Libcon_pact_2 Martin Sewell is a Family Lawyer specialising in Child Protection and Adoption and an Anglican Lay Reader.  His work puts him in daily contact with the disadvantaged of society who experience the consequences of social policy the most acutely.

For so long, “progressive” thinking has had a Neo-Marxist confidence that “history will absolve us”, and fueled by this dogma, liberals always feel able to make free with established wisdom, institutions, and experience, with a confidence unencumbered by recollection of their past failures.

Consider the following “progressive solutions” to recent problems. 

“The provision of sex education will reduce teenage pregnancies and the incidence of sexually transmitted disease”.

“Special needs children will fare better in mainstream schools” 

"Relaxed opening hours will reduce binge drinking”

“More money will inevitably result in an improved NHS”

Not looking good? Well consider, for a while, the latest Lib Dem proposals on drugs, but first, do remind yourself that everyone of the above policies was originally accompanied by the assertion that reason, and evidence from elsewhere, justified our moving away  rom a policy that had hitherto served the country well, towards a more “progressive” solution.

With a growing incidence of schizophrenia amongst young people in general and strikingly amongst young prison inmates, and young black men in our inner cities,  any rational analysis might begin by seeking a commonly used agent, clinically proven to cause mental illness - such as cannabis. 

I am well aware that any mention of a possible cultural (not ethnic) component within the statistics is difficult and sensitive, but it is as legitimate to examine a cultural wish amongst any community to use cannabis as a possible causative link with enhanced susceptibility to schizophrenia, as it is to follow up the possibility of “racist bias” within the diagnostic criteria.

It is a worrying phenomenon amongst two cohorts of young people who we ought to wish to assist.

But what do our “progressive” Lib Dem heroes propose? Why, “Legalise Cannabis” of course!

In case that does not in itself solve the problem, they have a Plan B, which largely consists of placing  their trust in a dynamic new initiative. That policy might loosely be described as  “review”. 

Thus we have a proposal for a Standing Drugs Commission to keep drugs classification ”under review”.  It would also “carry out a regular audit”. Europe, of course, has a role: there should be... err... “A Europe wide review”, and just to be on the safe and practical side,  the current 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs should be kept under.... well you get the general idea..

Impressive isn’t it?

This anaemic approach is curiously described in its Heading ah “Honesty, Realism, and Responsibility”. It is nothing of the kind, and the sooner we get into the debate in an informed and confident manner, tracing past failures back to their intellectual roots where they belong, the better.

It lacks the honesty that might allow them to admit that drugs policy over the last 30 years has not been characterised simply by a failed “prohibitionist approach” as they assert, but also and overwhelmingly by an institutional, cultural, and moral drift towards tolerance of recreational drugs use. When do you last hear censure of drugs use from the BBC - or in any other mass media? 

No wonder our young people are confused when faced with such institutional schizophrenia.

This drugs tolerance largely emanates from a leadership class that dabbled with “Puff” in its youth, got away with it, and would rather consign future generations of the failing underclass to the consequences of drugs degradation than admit that they might have been wrong to do so.

It is of course overwhelmingly the poor and vulnerable who bear the burden of drugs liberalism whether in the hospitals or the prisons. However,  no politician or media superstar can bear to be a “Hypocrite”, so, to save their fragile consciences, the proposal is that we have to let the drugs dealers loose on the poor to sell  the modern “skunk cannabis”, which is many times more potent and harmful than anything  liberals ever experienced..

Drugs have moved on, Lib Dems have not. 

Their policy may state that they want to prosecute the dealers, but non-intervention on the demand side of the equation can only have one consequence on supply in the eyes of anyone with a remote acquaintanceship with economics.

Neither can the proposed policy be termed “realistic”. Our law may have echoed the past, but the overall culture has actually been liberal and drugs permissive throughout the period of drugs growth. That is where the change needs to be made.

A truly realistic approach might begin by ensuring that a real economic and social cost is paid for transgression. This policy is precisely the opposite.

Least of all is it “responsible.”  To proast this policy with how the Lib Dems apphe Lib Dems are apparently  reluctant to enforce the law against drug users, who contribute nothing towards the health care costs of their self abuse, whilst they are  determined  to vigorously marginalise smokers, who do.

Surely a better description of their drugs  policy is that it is dishonest, removed from the reality of drug abuse and completely irresponsible. We ought to get out and say so.


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