Earlier this week, the failed U.S. war on drugs was discussed in this space.
Turns out that a high ranking provincial law enforcement officer in Britain believes that the UK’s version is just as pointless as its U.S. cousin’s.
By Jonathan Brown and David Langton
Published: 15 October 2007
One of Britain’s most senior police officers is to call for all drugs – including heroin and cocaine – to be legalised and urges the Government to declare an end to the “failed” war on illegal narcotics.
Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, advocates an end to UK drug policy based on “prohibition”. His comments come as the Home Office this week ends the process of gathering expert advice looking at the next 10 years of strategy.
In his radical analysis, which he will present to the North Wales Police Authority today, Mr Brunstrom points out that illegal drugs are now cheaper and more plentiful than ever before.
The number of users has soared while drug-related crime is rising with narcotics now supporting a worldwide business empire second only in value to oil. “If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral, to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (specifically including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society,” he will say.
The war on drugs benefits the prison-industrial complex, but not society.
Statistics are useful in this context. In Scotland, for example,
… he notes that figures from the Chief Medical Officer have found that, in Scotland, 13,000 people died from tobacco-related use in 2004 while 2,052 died as a result of alcohol. Illegal drugs, meanwhile, accounted for 356 deaths. The maximum penalty for possessing a class A drug is 14 years in prison while supplying it carries a life term.
The main way that illegal drugs kill is due to the crimes committed in dealing them, or supporting the habit. Decriminalize drugs, and the profit and crime will go away.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
So here’s a sensible man, neck deep in the problem but still able to see further than most, who says,
* Mr Brunstrom says: “If policy on drugs is in the future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral. Such a strategy leads inevitably to the legalisation and regulation of all drugs.”
“Not moralistic” is the key phrase. The U.S. does moralistic all too well, and it buys us nothing but unwinnable wars and the growing disapprobation of a growing percentage of the thinking world.
So, risking repetition, let me invoke our previous judgement. Here’s MUDGE‘s prescription for our drug problem, as endorsed, I would like to think, by the mayor of San Francisco as well as the Chief Constable of North Wales.
Set a price for heroin and cocaine and the like that includes a tax to fund drug abuse treatment programs — I’m guessing the “street” price will still, tax and all, come in at far less than the price available from the Colombian-supplied junkie down that alley.
But, keep a few law enforcement agents around, to throw the book at the creeps who persist in selling to children.
Make medical marijuana freely available at a fair price by prescription, again at the state stores where legal identification can be assured.
Just as organized crime found new things to do in 1933, if you take criminality out of the drug supply industry, drug related crime will dry up just as promptly. Fear not for the poor farmers in Bolivia, Peru and Afghanistan with their poppy fields. They will remain in business, paid though by the U.S. government rather than by criminal cartels.
Of course, there’s always a down side. This program would leave thousands of judges, bailiffs, court clerks, prosecutors, defense attorneys, sheriffs’ deputies, wardens and guards out of work.
Probably an acceptable price for the reduction, even elimination, of the casually violent drive-by shootings that kill innocent 10 year olds.
Use some of that obsolete war on drugs budget to retrain the judges, bailiffs, clerks, lawyers, deputies, and guards.
Teach them web page development and Java. Create something useful.
Maybe we can once again compete with Bengaluru.
Another pointless war we can end. Why not now?
It’s it for now. Thanks,