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Perhaps this is one of those subjects where the only important thing is, to coin a phrase 'what works'.
I would need a huge amount of convincing that the state providing heroin to addicts or 'shooting galleries'will actually lead to a decrease in heroin use.

I believe to take this line would send out a clear message [whether intended or not] that he is soft on the use of hard drugs. The general public would not approve of such a stance, even though it might strike a chord with a few woolly liberals. After all we have said about the Lib Dem drug policies this is very disappointing!

We must look for the least-harm route with an open, analytical mind. On the face of it, the Swiss do seem to have had good results. If there is evidence that drug rooms reduce harm for all, the moral imperative is to try it.

One wonders what David Davis, whose remit this falls under, makes of this.

I've seen no evidence that shooting galleries or state supplied heroin decreases the incidence if drugs use. Indeed, the experience in Switzerland has seen the authorities abandon all hope of weaning addicts off drugs. In effect, such policies entrench addiction while reducing the need for addicts to commit crime to finance their habit.

A good dose of imprisonment to give people the chance to detox, followed by a rehabilitative programme would seem far more likely to have some effect. The former drug addicts who attend our local church and poverty action groups, for example, only got off drugs because time in prison cut off their supply.

In any case, I find the idea of the state keeping its citizens doped up to be morally abhorrent.

I think I read Mark, that Switzerland recently had the highest proportion of heroin addicts in Europe Mark.I might be wrong about this 'though.

I have to agree with Malcolm. It is very much a case of 'what works'. Whilst there may be no empirical evidence of 'shooting galleries' etc reducing the incidence of drug use, Cameron's preparedness to consider such options underlines an important point: with problems such as drug use we must be prepared to discard any preconceptions we may have in favour of a genuine open-minded search for potential solutions. This means keeping our options open.

I think I read Mark, that Switzerland recently had the highest proportion of heroin addicts in Europe Mark.

The "success" ascribed to the programmes has been in reducing the incidence of HIV infected needles and contaminated drugs from being used. Sch programmes do not in themselves do anything to actually reduce the prevalence of drugs use or to help people out of addiction. It mitigates the harm of drugs use, but no more.

Yes, as I watched the BBC news this morning, I heard the brief yet vomit enducing report on the Roundtree report.

What is needed with drugs (as with many other types of crime) is a ZERO TOLERANCE attitude - not some namby-pamby, 'oh, they'll only break the law anyway, so we give in and will let them do it in a safe environment.'

If we are going to legalise drugs there should be no free treatment for drugs-related problems on the NHS unless it is funded by duty on drugs.

Apparently "liberal" Sweden have a very tough anti-drugs regime which has been successful at limiting drug use. Maybe we should check out this option first?

"A good dose of imprisonment to give people the chance to detox, followed by a rehabilitative programme would seem far more likely to have some effect." - James Hellyer

Which doesn't actually work at the moment, because the use of drugs and the accessibility to them is almost as prevalent on the inside as it is out. Prisons must be completely cleaned of drugs otherwise prison won’t be anywhere near as effective.

Which doesn't actually work at the moment

That depends largely on the prison. Some are very clean places. I understand that Exeter Prison, for example, is very successful at reducing the presence of drugs. In that case the problem is that people get themselves straight in prison, before being released straight back into the circumstances that led them into drug use in the first place...

But in general terms I agree: we need greater prison capacity and better management for those penal institutions.

Decriminalising drugs is the way to go.

Not just on libertarian grounds - though those are good - but because criminalising people doesn't work.

Addiction is medical problem not a judicial problem.

"What is needed with drugs (as with many other types of crime) is a ZERO TOLERANCE attitude"
What like in the United States? A tough approach there has really stopped drug use and associated lawlessness, hasn't it?! Get real.

I think we probably went through a lot of the arguments in the thread back before DC was elected about drugs.

It is in my view the 'what works' that matters but also important is what the priority problem is:

- Spread of Hepatatis & HIV both within and from drug using population
- Death/serious impairment from impure black market drugs
- Crime reduction
- Taking people off drugs / rehabilitation

Switzerland was most concerned about disease, especially its spread from drug users to wider population. Sweden was more concerned about reducing drug use overall.

IMHO the best we can hope for in any mix of approaches is reduction in drug usage not its elimination and clean shooting galleries may have a part to play in disease prevention.

China, Iran, Thailand etc have the death penalty but that doesn't seem very successful as people are executed every year - it might control growth usage but it doesn't stop it. Liberal approaches don't seem that effective either.

"What like in the United States? A tough approach there has really stopped drug use and associated lawlessness, hasn't it?! Get real. "

It's been very effective in Sweden. Would be interested to know why.

Paul Stainer: "Addiction is medical problem not a judicial problem." Maybe so Paul but the decision to take drugs in the first place which leads to addiction is very much a judicial matter.
When people break the law then sadly you are going to get "criminalised." This is surely logical. I am not convinced by the argument that recreational drugs users should not be criminalised because really they're just a bunch of nice chaps, are not really criminals and are only hurting themselves. If it wasn't for the coke snorting classes in western nations, then the cartels overseas couldn't wreak the havoc and devastation that they do.

I agree with other comments about keeping an open mind as this is a deeply complex problem with no obvious solutions. However, i fail to see how the state providing shooting galleries will tackle the problem. Surely it would have a major impact on attitudes to drug use by users. I would not want anyone to think that there is a safe way to do heroin, it is still a very dangerous drug. It sends out a message that we have given up on the problem. How are the police supposed to enforce penalties for possession or confiscate drugs when the state says it's perfectly ok to shoot up as long as you do it in one of our shooting galleries.

Maybe we have reached a point where we have to consider that the cost to society of the illegal drugs trade is greater than the cost to society of allowing people to take drugs.

When was the last time two breweries or tobacco companies were involved in a turf war with semi-automatic rifles?

If drugs like cannabis and heroin were fully legalised, sold openly, taxed etc. then the lucrative market would be closed to criminals. Not to mention the idea that making something legal and taxable certainly takes away a lot of the illicit thrill of illegal drugs.

How much money is spent on fighting the drugs barons? Could that money not be put to better use treating addicts?

We let people drink themselves to death, eat themselves to death, we don't bat an eyelid at the medical expenses of people who have injured themselves playing contact sports or other self-inflicted conditions. Why should drugs be any different?

It is a complex area, allowing people to take greater responsibility for their lives sometimes means letting them screw it up.

This man Cameron horrifies me with his attitude towards drugs, I do hope all the real true blue tories are taking this all in.Whatever has become of the party, what in their desperation to win at any price have they let themselves in for?. I hope they waken up soon and realise we need strong Law and Order not a Liberal attitude to such a problem.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! This sort of stuff makes my blood boil. The issue of drug rehabilitation has come to Thanet. The local community are very concerned.


Drugs are extremely bad. They ruin lives and even by suggesting that the Conservative Party are open minded about drugs, we are giving the idea that we think they could be OK. We must be absolutely clear about it. Shooting galleries if anything advertise that not only that drugs are good but it could encourage drug taking.

This is whats wrong about the Conservatives at the moment. The argument that change is required is so prominent in the thinking of the Conservatives that it overrides whether that change is really right or necessary. Drug policy must stick. We shouldnt help people take drugs. If anything that just tells people that not only are drugs acceptable, but that the state will help you get your fix. I cannot possibly support this. David Davis must privately chat with Cameron and tell him "No!"

More people die every year of excessive alcohol consumption than die from the use of other drugs. Have you ever been threatened by a heroin addict at a cash point? No, but I've been threatened by some drunk idiot pushing in the que at a cashpoint on a friday night. Ever seen two heroin addicts fighting in the street? A pop star dies of a drugs overdose and they died a tragic death, a footballer dies of liver disease and he enjoyed himself "a bit too much." We have shooting gallerys, they're called bars, pubs and clubs. Stop the stupid double standard. Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug, it makes people violent and is often a contributing factor in domestic violence. How many working days are lost to people being physically ill after a drinking binge the day before? This country has a drug problem already, the only problem is that it's a drug that's considered safe when in many cases it's anything but.

"When was the last time two breweries or tobacco companies were involved in a turf war with semi-automatic rifles?"
This is true but once you have legalised something you will naturally widen the availability. We let people drink and smoke themselves to death precisely because alcohol and tobacco have been legalised for so long and are so incredibly available and widely used. People who are in favour of legalising drugs always make the argument that you can tax the drugs and regulate them instead of having the crimial element controlling the trade. This again is true, but by doing so we risk making the revenue from drug sales a vital part of the nations economic revenue. If the policy were to fail, no government would dare criminalise these drugs again because of the massive loss of revenue. Just look at the revenue raised from alcohol and tobacco. Even if I believed that legalising drugs would work, i'd be very cautious about calling for such a policy to be implemented because if it fails, i doubt that there would be any way back

Why bother with illegal drugs? Five minutes moaning and you can walk out of your GP's surgery with a prescription that'll sort you out. Illegal, legal, makes no difference really. People take all sorts of drugs for all sorts of reasons, and any difference between legal and illegal drugs is just in the mind of the Davis supporting kneejerkers who are no doubt going to jump on this post with glee.

Stop the stupid double standard

What double standard? Our society has failed to control and manage alcohol and tobacco consumption, and is indeed increasingly trying to criminalise the latter. I don't see that this is a persuasive argument to allow more dangerous substances, whose consumption our society will also doubtless fail to control and manage.

How do you think danger should be categorised? I think it's good to count dead people. Alcohol kills more people, as does smoking. Cars are also a lot more dangerous than illegal drugs, should we ban them too? Drugs are bad because they're sold by criminals? So legalise them, and then Tesco can rebrand them, make them safer, and then sell them to you, along with your sugar, alcohol, your anti-depressent medication (larger stores only) your coffee and all the other uppers and downers.

For a good little cartoon which shows how stupid it is to ban stuff look here

"We have shooting gallerys, they're called bars, pubs and clubs. Stop the stupid double standard."
I don't think anyone can deny that there is a double standard. However, that does not mean we should make the problem worse by legalising drugs. Just because something that is generally bad is legal, does not mean we should make all bad things legal. I wouldn't advise anyone banning alcohol as there is a high percentage of people who use alcohol responsibly and moderate alcohol consumption is often said to be good for you. This is aside from the obvious fact that it would be electoral suicide and utterly unworkable. I can't however say that with drugs like heroin. I don't think many people use drugs responsibly at all. With most drugs, the mere idea of "using responsibly," is a contradiction in terms.

OK, but all the banners don't get to complain about the nanny state.

Why bother with illegal drugs? Five minutes moaning and you can walk out of your GP's surgery with a prescription that'll sort you out

Or you'd sell your prescription drugs like valium to those whose doctors won't prescribe them,and use the funds to buy illegal drugs of your choice. Or you'd become addicted to tamazepan and heroin and drink to excess.

How many avenues of self-destruction do you want to provide people with, and how easy do you want to make access to those avenues?

Drugs are an odd issue, that Conservative principle of increasing personal freedom coupled with personal responsibility goes straight out the window.

Saying we should look at harm reduction strategies like safe places to shoot up isn't "let's legalise drugs". It can play a part in a clampdown on drugs as much as in liberalisation. Note DC said "helps get users off the streets and in touch with agencies that can provide treatment."

UK drugs policies have changed regularly - Heroin prescriptions in the 60's then stopping that and then reconsidering a couple of years ago. Why must any discussion of changing a failed current approach always be viewed as liberalisation rather than trying to find something that works.

I can see a hard policy on drug trafficking backed up by increased treatment orders with by harm reduction policies playing a major role. But let us be clear on the goal - is it reducing harm to society (in UK & Afghanistan, Columbia etc.)? is it that drug use is sinful/always criminal? Is it protecting our children from an attractive vice that we know causes damage?

Henry: "OK, but all the banners don't get to complain about the nanny state."
Is that not a bit like saying, that only people who believe everything should be legal have a right to complain about the nanny state. Surely you believe that some things ought to be prohibited otherwise you could not possibly believe in a criminal justice system.

PS; That cartoon was pretty damn funny.

Saying we should look at harm reduction strategies like safe places to shoot up isn't "let's legalise drugs".

Tell Henry that!

Note DC said "helps get users off the streets and in touch with agencies that can provide treatment."

The problem is that these agencies don't have a very good track record of success. For example, our local treatment programmes have replaced several people's heroin dosages with methadone, and then withdrawn that because the addicts have failed to control their other addictions (e.g. valium). As a result they've started taking heroin again and promptly overdosed because they've lost a degree of immunity to it.

By contrast, those people I do know who have straightened out, got off heroin while in prison, and thus only had to rely upon these organisations as a support network once released, which was far more within their capablilities.

The war on drugs is the biggest lie in history, certainly one of the biggest wastes of public money in terms of bang per buck. It just doesn't work. Why do you insist in badgering politicians for solutions they can't possibly deliver? It's like asking to be lied to.

Traditional theories on criminal justice works in two ways: 1) they create a deterrent effect, and 2) they protect society by removing certain dangerous persons from the community. Both of these theories fall down when dealing with drug users. For one, deterrence is based upon a rationality which drug addicts do not possess; and secondly, the principle danger they pose to society is not in the taking of drugs per se but in the attendant crime such as stealing to fuel the habit or getting involved in organised crime.

The war on drugs is not flawed, but is misdirected. Instead of attacking drug users, we need to target drug pushers. Shooting galleries provide an alternative mechanism for addicts to get their fix and thereby reduce their reliance on the drug barons. The "harm" of drug use must be measured not only in the number of drug users, but in the secondary crime spawned by organised gangs of drug pushers. Cutting off the finance for these gangs must be a good thing.

Being "tough" on drugs isn't always the best policy. I am glad that Cameron has taken an open-minded stance on this issue.

"Why do you insist in badgering politicians for solutions they can't possibly deliver? It's like asking to be lied to."

Because they seem to be quite good at it in Sweden? Although admittedly some disagree: http://www.drugtext.org/library/articles/sweden1.html

Personally I'm open-minded regarding this issue. I can sympathise with both libertarian and authoritarian arguments and find myself swinging constantly from one to the other. I suppose the strongest argument in favour of prohibition is the effect it would have on inner city communities that are less equipped to deal with mass drug use. On the other hand they already suffer from it so what would be the difference?

"A junkie is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong" - Stella Adler

"A junkie is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong" - Stella Adler

And is that society's fault or their fault? Clever-sounding quote but meaningless without some specifics.

I lived in Geneva, Switzerland for about four years. I felt that some of the comments earlier lacked a sense of the impact that Swiss policies have on non drug users in the area.

Hard drugs are not merely freely available on the streets but are actively pushed. Doorways, in even the best parts of town, often have addicts shooting up in them. The areas around the consumption rooms are no go areas where dealers congregate in the sure knowledge that there will be a strong demand there. Every car park stairwell is littered with the needles given out by the government to the addicts.

All in all, it's extremely unpleasant.

Those who recommend that we go down the Swiss route might do well to understand the totality of the swiss experience.

I am most interested to know about the Swedish experience and also think that we could learn somethiong from Singapore.
I certainly don't advocate giving up the war on drugs but wonder whether the zero tolerance attitude of some posters is both naive and doomed to fail.

People can't take 'personal responsibility' for themselves and their lives if they don't understand what the phrase 'personal responsibility' means, exactly; and a lot of people nowadays don't understand that. They never learn about it in school or at home, so how should they have a clue as to the importance of it to make society work.

Spot on, Alex. So long as "shooting galleries" don't just lead us to "double-decker drug use" where people use more: the free stuff from the state and then the stuff from the bad guys which leads to crime.

"the free stuff from the state and then the stuff from the bad guys which leads to crime."

That's another thing that bothers me - won't state provision havr to be funded by the taxpayer. Do we really want our money being spent on drugs?

Seem to remember a facinating chapter on legalising hard drugs, in a book (hardback) called 'Saturn's Children'. The author was an enthusiastic supporter, of legalisation, in fact he seemed to think as long as anything made a profit it was ok. His name was um, Oh Alan Duncan MP anyone know what became of him?? I seem to remember the Federation Of Conservative Students took a similar line to.

Iranian approach: zero tolerance, execute the dealers. Result: 2 million heroin users. Oops.

British approach: 35 years of drugs war, still quite tough by European standards. Result: approx 250,000 heroin users, 3000+ drugs deaths per year, huge crime wave to supply these users. Oops.

Swedish approach: Recent extremely tough anti-drugs measures. Drugs deaths immediately quadruple in 7 years, and will soon overtake Britain as the highest in Europe. Oops.

Dutch approach: less ideology, more practicalty. 60 odd drugs deaths per year, by a country mile the lowest in Europe.

Legalisation of tobacco does not stop smuggling or illicit sales to children - nor does licensing and state control of the sale of alcohol prevent under-age drinking.

Thus, while there is a case to argue for legalisation of drugs, if the tobacco and alcohol paradigms are any guide, that in itself will not resolve the crisis of drub abuse.

Once again, we are back to policing and the legal framework in which the police operate. Here, one of the most egregious system failures is in the ineffectiveness of interdicting dealers.

Very often, these are known to the police - and quite easy to spot - but action cannot be taken without "reasonable suspicion", a test made quite severe by the civil rights lobby.

If, however, police are given a free hand to disrupt dealers and "run out of town" - with the support of the courts, localised problems do reduce and, in some cases, the dealers turn to other activities, further improving the drug situation.

The trouble, imo at least will the personal rights issue, is that we dont have personal responsibility to go with it, unlike America, instead having pooled responsibility in things like the NHS. Either fully legalise and tax the drugs to pay for the associated medical, therapy costs of users, or have the NHS turn away those who OD. Either would be more of a deterrent than todays laws.

I like the libertarian argument, but it has to be applied not only to users rights, but also their self responsibility, thats all im saying. I'll be darned if im paying for some junkie to take up someones bed in a Hospital and not have to deal with the full wrath of the Law also!

You need to turn to history for some clues. U S of A decided folk were drinking way too much alcohol. So they brought in prohibition. Guess what. The flappers thought that was a great wheeze, illicit boozing. The Mafia thought that was a great wheeze too. Went into business big time. Lots of under cover drinking dens, lots of turf wars, lots of machine guns, and Valentine day massacres.
Come the 1970s. The government thought too much stuff could be bought over the counter. Have to clamp down on this. Circa 1974, brought in a regulatory act. Dangerous drugs act, wasnt it?
Guess what. The kids thought Oooo this is exciting, illegal drugs. I want some. They hadnt really bothered before.
The bad people saw a niche in the market, and stepped right in.
Now we have a repeat of the American experience, in spades. Turf wars, better class of guns, wider markets, international drug dealers.
I smell a whiff of the law of unintended concequences here. It seems that as soon as you make something illegal, human nature being what it is, folk want to go there.
So what to do?? Keep an open mind for starters. Wegh up the options and outcomes of those options.
What do you want to achieve? Druggies off the streets? OK, open a safe environment for them.
Want to break the whole thing up? OK, build about 20 new prisons, and call them drug rehabs.
Take a punt on the next generation having nothing to rebel about? OK, legalise the lot.
The answer is that there isnt one. I suggest we all reread Catch 22.

"What like in the United States? A tough approach there has really stopped drug use and associated lawlessness, hasn't it?! Get real." - Robbie

And can you imagine how bad it would be otherwise. Get real moron.

"Iranian approach: zero tolerance, execute the dealers. Result: 2 million heroin users. Oops." - Andrew

Perhaps something to do with the fact that Iran is very near to where poppies are grow? Perhaps they should execute the addicts too.

Further, death isn't the only factor that should be considered when assessing drug legality. To be honest, I personally couldn't care if some druggies die. Most of them only have themselves to blame - it being their own stupid fault.

However, drug taking whether legal or illegal is adictive. The poor sections of society are most vunerable (as seen) to this. If they cannot afford the drugs to get their kick, then they will resort to crime (however expensive or inexpensive those drugs are.)

The hard drugs that are currently illegal, example, heroin - is far more addictive than alcohol. You can very easily become an addict after a few injections but very unlikely to be an addict with only a few pints.

"Drugs are an odd issue, that Conservative principle of increasing personal freedom coupled with personal responsibility goes straight out the window." - Mike Christie

Drug taking, with relation to crime is not about personal responsibility - but protection.

Hurrah. Whenever I start to worry about David Cameron, he comes out with something like this to make me love him again. I didn't think he had the bottle for something as controversial as this. I'd like him to take the issue further, but still, a great start.

Further, do you really think that if drug usuage is make legal, the illegal criminal elements currently around will just disappear. Of course not. They'll just move onto something else illegal - shifting the problem.

I think we need to avoid looking at this as simply a black and white issue. This is not a choice between zero tolerance enforcement on the one hand, and all-out legalisation on the other. Perhaps the and theory can be applied here too. There's nothing to say we couldn't employ zero tolerance policing to keep drug-dealers off the streets while simultaneously providing areas for addicts to shoot-up with clean needles and 'safe' heroin.

The point of drug consumption areas is threefold: (1) it would reduce crime levels since addicts would not have to steal to feed their habit; (2) it gets addicts into the 'system' where they can get tested and treated for disease, and given help to fight their addiction and change. Maybe this is a perfect forum for some of DC's much vaunted social entrepreneurship. Moreover, such a scheme would hopefully free up resources and police time, allowing them concentrate on other areas of zero tolerance enforcement.

I should have linked to the CP news story on this really. It portrays his comments more officially than one might have thought.

"Shooting Galleries" for drug addicts

Conservatives will examine plans to establish so-called "shooting galleries" - special centres where drug addicts inject themselves under controlled conditions - David Cameron has signalled.

Visiting The Grove care centre in north London, run by charity Turning Point for people suffering from alcohol and drugs abuse, the Party Leader acknowledged that the current system of encouraging addicts into treatment is not working effectively enough.

I don't think you can have more than one focus with a policy or it becomes muddled and ineffective.

Is the primary aim to reduce the number of drug addicts, reduce the number of drug deaths or to reduce crime?

IMHO, cutting crime is clearly the vote winner, so surely the aim should be to turn down the heat on users but to simultaneously turn the heat up on dealers.

I'd happily provide free drugs and shooting galleries for registered users whilst also introducing a zero tolerance policy to possession outside the designated drug-taking places.

I believe that we should have an equivalent for drug addiction to sectioning in mental health. Innocent people who have committed no crime can be sectioned on a mental health ward if their health has deteriorated beyond a certain point.

If someone is found in possession of illegal drugs, they should be forcibly treated in a rehab centre, under a new type of section for drug addicts, IMO.

I think the only reason we don't do this is because of the expense. I think we need to consider the expense in human misery in communities, and get the job done.

If we go down this route of shooting galleries, will we have sex booths for teens in 15 years time? 'They do it anyway' is no reason to help them. We can combine the custodial sentence (for the crime) with treatment, if we section people for drug addiction.

Luckily for us this has not been on the main news so far. When this reaches the wider public it will go down as well as the down-grading of cannabis. Like that move, it sends out mixed messages. I'm for no tolerance of drugs or drug-taking. Anything else is the slippery slope to even worse problems.

"Further, do you really think that if drug usuage is make legal, the illegal criminal elements currently around will just disappear. Of course not. They'll just move onto something else illegal - shifting the problem."

Er...like what? You can't trash one of the strongest points in favour of shooting galleries without backing it up with any substance.

"Is the primary aim to reduce the number of drug addicts, reduce the number of drug deaths or to reduce crime?"

Surely it should be to reduce drug abuse. Addiction, drugs deaths and crime are all a result of this. The problem is that our drugs laws are totally discredited as a result of equating drug use with drug abuse, as a result of which they're unable to tackle either.

There's also a ridiculous ignorance about actual statistics in the drugs debate - most political comment is at the basest, most ignorant tabloid level. For example, tobacco and heroin death rates are actually pretty much the same (about 1% of users die each year). With the former we're successfully lowering the number of users through education and public info campaigns, whereas the war on (some) drugs has consistently had the reverse effect, in multiple countries.

Similarly, the wish to follow the Swedish model is bizarre - that's a moralist's perspective, but ignores the failed reality of Swedish policies. Again: drugs deaths quadrupled in 7 years, and drugs crime is ballooning. Not an example to follow.

A move towards a tougher, moralistic, hardline approach simply cannot work. The fact is that a significant minority take drugs and think the drug laws are an ass: the majority of these people do not succumb to "reefer madness", or become addicts, or drop-out from society. Instead, for most the benefits of drug-taking diminish over time in much the same way as getting drunk every Friday night loses its appeal; so most eventually quit consuming drugs. This further significant minority of former drug-takers naturally attach no stigma to drug use. If laws are to work they have to have the confidence of not just the majority, but the overwhelming majority of the people. Clearly, a more penal approach could not in a free society carry the people. To attempt to jail significantly more users would be like a Government deciding to reduce the incidence of adultery or homosexuality by jailing marital cheats or gays; it would offend people's sense of natural justice. Imagine the uproar if Middle England awoke to find its sons and daughters with criminal records for popping an E or supplying pills to friends? The only sensible approaches are legalisation or more imaginative rehab/education/harm-reduction programmes; plain old prohibition is plain silly.

if anyone would like to see read an excellent comment on the 'drugs problem'
try here


If drugs such as opium, cocaine etc... were legalised through licensing and taxed, naturally there would be a lower legal limit as for alcohol, people could buy them in Supermarkets, the police would still focus on unauthorised drugs activity but it would take it out of the control of unregulated largely criminal gangs and by bringing down the price reduce the associated crime because what reducing supply does is to increase the price and so what happens is that addicts commit more muggings, burgalries and shop lifting to get money for it and why bother trying to protect such people against themselves, the state would get in Billions of Pounds in Revenue that could be cut from other taxes and it would allow police to focus more on other areas of crime such as GBH, Muggings, Anti-Terrorist activity, murder, rape etc....

It could also help boost the economies of many poor countries such as Afghanistan for example if it was on a legitimate basis.

Forget decriminalisation which drugees just want so they can avoid paying taxes on their stuff, if drugs are decriminalised then why not alcohol and tobacco too?

We have a huge problem with drugs in this country because the present system with dealing with addicts just doesn`t work, if it did then obviously the problem wouldn`t be as serious as it is.
I think Cameron is right to have an open mind about all solutions as drugs not only destroy the lifes of individuals they are at the root of a majority of crime and if we want to reduce crime then we simply have to get to grips with drugs.
We need to do whatever deals with the problem and not be constrained by political dogma.

in all the searches for solutions - either War on Drugs or harm reduction there is one question I've never seen answered:

How was the Cocaine Epidemic cured?

In the late 19th century/erly 20th Century there was a legal epidemic of cocaine use; people from Queen Victoria down through all classes regularly used cocaine as both a medication and a stimulant - it was sold in Harrods during First World war.
This wasn't just in UK, same in Europe and US.

There were measures against it from early 20th century - removed from Coca Cola and other Tonic drinks, then increasing regulation. By 30's it was becoming a rare drug again (though the song I Get a Kick from Cocaine in 1934 shows it wasn't that rare) and by WWII the epidemic was over.

What was done? How did it work?

Jack Stone says:
""I think Cameron is right to have an open mind about all solutions....""
He cannot have an open mind - his way of life has left him parti pris.

The only answer nto John is.Rubbish!

"We need to do whatever deals with the problem and not be constrained by political dogma."

Does that include using tax money to fund these "shooting galleries"?

I would prefer legislation to "harm reduction", at least that way I'd know my money wasn't being wasted on feeding someone's addiction.

Jack, I wish you would address the subject matter and not quickly descend into mis-typed abuse.

Dopamine D3 receptor antagonism reduces cue-related drug-seeking behaviour in preclinical species; the more we know about psychopharmacology, doesn't it behove us to revisit this "personal responsibility" debate re drugs? Unless, of course - and this would be intellectually respectable though not quite to my taste - you care only about outcome and want to damage the surrogate (junkie) for the outcome, rather than trying to understand some basic pathophysiology. See treatment of clinical depressives prior to understanding the role of the seratonin transporter for details.

Shooting galleries aren't for the junkies, they're for us, so we stop having to clamber over them in the park and avoid them on Cambridge Heath Road. Though no doubt the London ones would be put in Hackney anyway.

Addicted to Prohibition?

For this comment on UK drug policy and radical new thinking on issues of the day take a look at:


Please feel free to leave your comments on the site, we welcome all your contributions.

Most of the problems with drug use have been caused by the fact that they were criminalised; just like the prohibition of alcohol caused more problems in the USA than it solved.

People should be free to decide what they do with their own bodies. Unless they harm someone else, its up to them what they do, at least I think it should be... But it seems that many of the 'true blue' Tories on here disagree with personal freedom.

'But it seems that many of the 'true blue' Tories on here disagree with personal freedom.'

Not necessarily - perhaps they think that drugs is one of those issues where the welfare of society should take precedence over personal freedom. Ultimately there is a limit to what governments can do - they can only pass laws which may or may not have a positive effect on the situation. A greater responsibility rests with opinion formers and particularly those who influence the young, such as parents and teachers, to persuade them how dangerous and self-destructive drugs can be. It can work - the decline in smoking is clearly as much due to the general decline in social acceptability as to any legislative action. The same negative social image needs to be attached to drugs and alcohol before we will see a decline. Unfortunately liberalising the law tends to give the general public the opposite message.

Perhaps drugs policy will prove to be the achilles heal of DC's leadership.

The "shooting galleries" idea is an example of the muddled liberalism that facilitates any behaviour just because sufficient numbers of people are involved, regardless of right and wrong and impact on society. Such liberalism should have no place in Conservative policy!

True liberalism is freedom to do what is right, and freedom for the law-abiding. So I agree that drugs is an issue where the welfare of society must take precedence over 'personal freedom'.

The purpose of Government and the state is to protect the public and to restrain the fallen aspects of human nature for the good of society. Zero tolerance therefore to drug dealing and abuse! What James Hellyer says seems to make sense: that prison helps people get off drugs by cutting off their supply. It obviously also helps protect the public from drug abusers and the crime undertaken to feed their habit.

'But it seems that many of the 'true blue' Tories on here disagree with personal freedom'

Its a strange contradiction in conservatism. But on the other hand, a paternal state is broadly acceptable. I believe the state is allowed to interfere with personal freedoms on the condition that it is necessary to do so. For example with drugs, we know that drugs are bad, and while the principle of personal freedom would say that its up to the population as to whether they take drugs or not, the effects of drugs impacts on those who did not choose to take drugs. The state is thus duty-bound to protect them. Therefore a case can be made for partial state control. Its a tough one, but this is an exception to the personal freedoms rule.

Oh, johnc made that point...


If I ruled the world….

The genie is out of the bottle. PEOPLE WANT TO AND WILL GET HIGH. Some people are light weights and can't say no and become compulsive addicts. Others, just like with alcohol, can imbibe responsibly, and go on with their lives. I live in the states, and our "Drug Wars" have been a complete disaster. The more they bust, the bigger the risk, the higher the price. The higher the price, the more violence for turf. The more violence for turf, the bigger the cry for tougher drug laws. The dog chasing his tail. The human toll is staggering, with little or no understanding on what we really face. Remember, if getting drugs is a secret, full of shame and dread, like it is in our country, then bringing the real underling problems to light is not allowed. There is no vision.
I would legalize and tax all the soft drugs tomorrow, including some forms of cocaine, speed, and opiates. I would give the crack whores, and coke and heroin addicts as much as they wanted and as long as they wanted--in a safe environment. Meaning free of prosecution with their drug of choice supplied by the State. They would never have to steal or whore again for drugs. In that safe environment would be health care, counseling, for them and their families. It’s a family disease. Treatment on demand would be for everyone. Some unfortunates would never recover. We have to accept that. I would buy all the coco leaf, poppies, directly from the growers in Afganistan, Columbia….you name it. ALL THE CROP. I would sell the raw crops to state licensed processors, that would make a profit from selling to the state and to pharmaceutical companies, for palliative care, and addiction maintenance programs, and some to processors for recreational drug types. The farmers could supply at a slightly higher price than the Narco Trafficers had paid in the past, and we would still save billions. You want to reduce the supply? BUY IT ALL. One by one, I would look for ways that the stark poverty that the growers live and raise their families in, could be replaced by alternatives, to compete with the money made with drugs.
I would make it illegal to get “mood altering pharmaceutical drugs” over the internet. These people would be out of business tomorrow, if isp’s, and delivery companies were so inclined.
I would hire recovering addicts to “Teach our children well”. Every School would have an addictions class, starting at a fairly early age.
I would chase the most addictive drug on earth…...tobacco, with a vengeance. I would reward inventors or treatment specialists with a Million Dollar Prize for coming up with a way to quit smoking that, left you with no cravings and no weight gain. Second hand smoke would be as infrequent as possible.
Designer drugs would be researched and reported on. Psychedelics would be tolerated.
If I ruled the world.

There are various outpatient drug rehab program and these program consists of treatment sessions with specialists, meeting and case management sessions. it is just like a in-home treatment program during which patient live in their home and furnish their daily tasks easily. This is effective in the earlier stages of addiction. Later you have to go to the residential treatment program.

A zero tolerance approach would probably be best. Surely, our NHS has greater priorities than helping drug addicts to continue with their vile habbit?

The drug addicts chose their way of life. On the whole, they should be made to face the consequences. Some rehabilitation after prison may help. But, perhaps it should be linked more with helping these addicts to change their entire way of life? That could reduce their desire to return to the habbit.

"Mark Clarke" has actually lived in Switzerland. Just take a look at his comments, in order to see the reality of the Swiss experience.

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