Interesting times in the drug debate on the national and international front. At home the rather sorry ecstasy reclassification debacle comes to its conclusion with the ACMD recommending a move to B, the Home Secretary saying no, sorry, it’s staying in A, and no debate at all about whether or not the ABC harm ranking/hierarchy of criminal penalties system is a good idea or not. Science has not so much taken a back seat in the debate, it has been forcefully ejected from the car.
It's perhaps not surprising that we rarely find ourselves with serious debating opposition amongst police officers if this is the best they can manage:( Five Live breakfast show the segment you want is 2 hours and 54 minutes in). From the Chief Superintendants' Association, Ian Johnston’s very weak position discounting the ACMD's recommendation to downgrade ecstasy, relies solely on the 'sending out the wrong message' mantra, but he is entirely unable to back it up. It is surprising the pro-drug war authorities still put anyone up for a debate at all. They come across as seriously divorced from reality, looking like ill informed ideologues, or worse, propagandists – then lose. Which is why the Home Office don’t dare debate drug law reform in any live media format, ever – and if they are occasionally caught on the hop, they wheel out a pre-drafted line about debating alternatives being a 'counsel of despair' and telling us, once again that they are 'turning a corner'.
On a more positive front there is a great piece in today's Independent: The Big Question: Do we need a new debate about relaxing drugs policy in Britain?
Labour MP Austin Mitchell has a particularly fine quote that sums recent drug debates and all the classification blather:
"Things have gone from bad to worse, there is no possibility of an honest discussion now. Anyone who sticks their head above the parapet and calls for a rational consideration of the drug laws gets it shot off and kicked around by a horde of lunatics."
On the international front the bigger issues around the war on drugs and its horrendous negative consequences also receive attention in today’s Independent in a comment piece from long time reform advocate Johann Hari: Obama and the lethal war on drugs:
A slightly different, US-focussed version of this piece appears in the Huffington Post.
“With the global economy collapsing all around us, the last issue President Barack Obama wants to talk about is the ongoing War on Drugs. But if he doesn't – and fast – he may well have two collapsed and haemorrhaging countries on his hands. The first lies in the distant mountains of Afghanistan. The second is right next door, on the other side of the Rio Grande…”
“Drug addiction is always a tragedy for the addict – but drug prohibition spreads the tragedy across the globe. We still have a chance to take drugs back into the legal regulated economy, before it's too late for Mexico and Afghanistan and graveyards-full of more stabbed kids on the streets of Britain. Obama – and the rest of us – have to choose: controlled regulation or violent prohibition? Healthcare or warfare? “