The BBC suggest that in her new manifesto Scottish Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie MSP will be talking tough on drugs.
She is pledging to spend £1 billion more on "the biggest assault on crime and drugs ever seen in Scotland". Its a nice, round, politically impressive wodge of cash, but it will be no more successful than the billions already thrown at the problem. Supporting prohibition is a waste of money, resources and lives:
- Production cannot be stopped – Some of the most impoverished nations in the world are the biggest producers of illicit drug crops. There are too many people willing to grow / synthesise drugs for the potential profits/way out of starvation.
- Supply cannot be stopped – It’s an international trade worth £100 billion a year… there are too many people willing to supply drugs for the potential profits. Also most countries have fallible border controls and police forces that can be dodged.
- Consumption cannot be prevented with enforcement – As the past 100 years demonstrates rather effectively. International comparisons show no correlation between the harshness of enforcement and prevalence of use. There are simply too many people whose demand for drugs outwieghs any marginal deterrent effect of enforcement.
'More of the same' is an odd response to decades of counter-productive failure. However, if Goldie had decided to opt for establishing control through moves towards evidenbce based legal regulation she would have potentially been substantially more effective at reducing crime (instead of creating it). To explain, briefly:
- The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Drugs Report 2003, declared that drug users are estimated to commit 56% of the total number of crimes each year, and that drug-motivated offences are estimated to be responsible for a third of the total cost of crime (£19bn).
- Moving to legal regulation of drugs will cause a dramatic reduction in crime at all levels. Dependant users of illegal drugs (but not legal ones) commit crimes to fund their drug habit because illegal drugs prices are hugely inflated by prohibition. Legally regulated supplies of opiates and cocaine - on prescription or at prices that do not necessitate fundraising-related offending - have the potential to immediately and dramatically reduce property crime, and street prostitution.
- Most street drug dealing would disappear and there would likely be significant reductions in turf wars, gang violence and gun crime. The largest single profit opportunity for organised crime will be greatly diminished, and with it the largest single source of police corruption.