Friday, July 20, 2007

'Smoke and Mirrors'. Sue Blackmore in the Guardian

The article below by Transform patron Sue Blackmore appeared in today's Guardian (Transform is linked twice). There is some interesting discussion following the online 'comment is free' version.

Smoke and mirrors

Here we go again, another politician forced by our stupid laws to say that drugs are wrong and unpleasant.

July 20, 2007 7:00 AM

Oh no, not again. Another poor politician (and I don't very often feel sorry for them) has been forced by our stupid laws to say: It was wrong; I have learnt my lesson; drugs are wrong; and I did not particularly enjoy smoking cannabis. Really? Is Jacqui Smith lying?

I expect so. And who can blame her. What if the home secretary were to say, "I smoked cannabis sometimes like most of my Oxford friends. I enjoyed it a lot. I had fun, explored my mind, and learned things, but then grew out of it"? Or even if she said that taking drugs was not intrinsically wrong if it hurts no one else? Well, if that were what she really thought, and she said it, then she would almost certainly lose her job.

A law that makes millions of ordinary people into criminals and risks even driving our own politicians to lie has to be a bad law. It should be changed.

Messing about with the classification of drugs is never going to provide a real solution to the problems we face (street crime, over-filled prisons, lack of treatment, lack of proper drugs education). I welcome Colin Blakemore's scientific examination of the harm drugs do and the subsequent attempt to make drug classification reflect more accurately the harm each drug does. But Jacqui Smith wants to bring down crime, and for that there is only one real solution: to take drugs out of the hands of criminals and make them legal.

Just imagine this brave new world. Anyone over a certain age can go to a drugs shop and buy sensibly priced, properly taxed, clean drugs. Drugs cartels have to give up and half the street crime is gone. Tax revenue pours in, prisons have plenty of space and ... what about the politicians?

Perhaps we might hear on the news that a new home secretary has said: "I smoked cannabis at university and I loved it. It was fun and interesting, and wonderful for listening to music, but it's no good for studying, and now I'm more interested in my career and how to do my job well."

And wouldn't this set a better example?

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