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July 30, 2008

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John

You make a good point Huw about why is there not a ground swell against the law on Cannabis by the middle classes that use it. I think Paul has hit it on the head most of them do not come across the law at all because of that use.Really for them the law is an irrelavance. A few years ago when Cannabis was "B" and their kids were getting "busted" as students and they realised that this criminal record causes far more damage than the drugs themselves there was a huge march in London then supported by the Independant.
Since then we have had a downgrading,a fall in use and huge media reporting of often false information about its harms. More worrying though I think is a move to cocaine use as the recreational drug of choice not just for the rich anymore. This is a worrying seed change as the dangers from cocaine are far more real than those of cannabis.I have read that we now have 2 grades of cocaine a cheaper version higher in adulterants and a purer more expensive version.
Meanwhile the Police seem to be encourageing this move by pretty much limiting the supply of cannabis on the streets to the extent that it is now routinely cut with silicon spray, sand to satisfy the constant demand. It is almost everyday that another Cannabis factory is shut down but once in a blue moon that we have a major haul of cocaine.

Paul Flynn

Thanks you Oliver for your proof reading. All further suggestions appreciated.

Paul Flynn

It's a good question, Huw. Why are the middle classes, who know the drugs law are nonsense, speaking. It's hard to find any MP in private who defends them but it does not stop them blathering the populist line that they think will appeal to the lowest common denominator of their voters' opinion.

But almost nobody get arrested for USING drugs now. They law only moves against criminal activity of robbery etc associated with drug use. The law is an ass. The police are courts know that. One day parliament will too. That and Helmand are some of reasons why you should ensure that I get re-elected in 2010.

Huw O'Sullivan

What will it take for them to adopt an intelligent approach. Even if people are blind to the current situation and the effects it is having it is not as if we don't have the US example of alchohol prohibition to inform us all of the damage that prohibition does to law and order and the boon it is to organised crime.
I have known very few people who were not occasional users of cannabis, the only reason I don't use it is that somewhere along the supply chain I would be funding people who are very nasty indeed and I balk at doing that. But I am very much in a minority.
Back in 2002 the BBC carried a story where they claimed 92% of IT and telecommunication workers had used cannabis at some point (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/2163416.stm),
the financial sector had 72% admitted users.
I have known civil servants, police and students, all successful, who used it regularly or occasionally.
So if surveys and personal experience are correct, the vast majority of the population are regularly in breach of drug laws, why are they not demanding a total change in the legislation that criminalises them and could destroy their lives, careers and future.

paulflynn

Thanks John. I was sorry that I did not hear Ruth Runciman yesterday. She is the best thinker on this commission. There is a dawning recognition of the extent of the failure of prohibition.

There is no hope that the UK will become Holland, or Sweden will become Portugal. But there is a perceptible move towards a sensible appreciation that the drug laws kill. I am probaly excessively influenced by the modest success of my own report in the Council of Europe, British politicians are still too timid. But their own private views are progresive.

John

If you listened to the Politicians speaking on radio 4 yesterday you would be forgiven in thinking that Prohibition is never going to end and all parties will just get "harder" on drugs. Yet the discussion on radio 5 yesterday
go here to listen again
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00cqhcl

seems to indicate that the public are years ahead of the Politicians on this issue.
What was interesting and something I didn't know was around the 10-25 mark they had a professor on who asserted that pure heroin is fairly benign on the body in that it leaves the system without damaging organs. He said the sterotypical junkie looks like that becasue of his chaotic lifestyle in getting the drug and the adulterants that are in street heroin both of these are caused by prohibition.

paulflynn

Thanks Huw. I have been batting away on the anti-prohibition line for many years. Optimism keeps me going. there is an erosion o faith in prohibition and a realisation that harm reduction works. The best hope would be a shift of policy in the USA that would influence the UN. there are hopeful signs.

Huw O'Sullivan

I would like to be as optimistic as you about drugs policy. Cannot now and could never understand why we insist on making criminals richer and more violent all the time.
If we could get to a place of sanity on drugs policy it would be a wonderful thing. I just wouldn't be willing to bet actual money that we will get anywhere near there in my lifetime.

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