Monday, April 02, 2007

Tories propose £1billion more to be wasted on drug prohibition

The BBC suggest that in her new manifesto Scottish Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie MSP will be talking tough on drugs.

Drug warrior

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.
Taken from Transform's FAQ and Fact Research Guide


TonyGuitar said...

Venezuela grows this stuff and it comes up through Mexico.

Drug Lords battle on YouTube now..

One popular video on the site shows a man being shot in the head. A stomach-churning series of photos shows another execution victim, his missing face a mangled mess of flesh.

More than 2,000 people died last year in a war between the Gulf Cartel from northeastern Mexico and traffickers based in the western state of Sinaloa.

As expert author, Charles Bowden advises. *Take the profit out of it by government regulation, taxation and control.*

Those nervous teen drug couriers with cell phones you see at your pharmacy counter are delivering recreation drugs daily as it is.

OK, I know. Too shocking. Let*s keep pretending for a while longer.

The 1.7% of us who abandon our bodies to addiction cost us quality of life and a fortune in wealth.

All these drugs would cost no more than table salt if government controlled. You know the massive pharmaceutical drug lobbies never want to see their painkiller profits undermined. Thousands of professional jailers would lose inmates too.

PS, is BC quietly doing the right thing? Driving by, I see two public nurses providing injections for some thin people by our food bank. Fewer B&Es for sure. = TG

chrisbx515 said...

I am a drugs worker and the fact remains that prohibition is also big business. My job is in primary care so by the time I see people they want to be there, not forced through the criminal justice system. However 99% of them have been through it in the past and thier continued drug use means they are still at risk of being sucked back into it.

My point is that organisations like the charity I work for is dependant on government money and are unlikey to take a stance against prohibition which in effect would end thier funding.

The common sense, the ecconomics, the health implications and benifit to individuals and society that the transform policy puts forward is great, there is no doubt that this is the way forward.

The government and policy makers have nointention of ending prohibiton any time soon though, I see what drug services are getting geared up for through the DAT's and NTA. The next ten year stratigey will be even more cohersion a move towards abstinence based treatment and detoxing everyone that comes into contact with services - less harm reduction and maintenance more forced treatment. Thats what we have to look forward to.

I fear we will be blogging here for a long time yet......

Shawn said...

What about the claim that drug use may go up if now illegal drugs were regulated? While it's true the number of pot smokers on the books is lower than the actual number out there and if pot were regulated tomorrow and numbers crunched the number would appear to jump sharply at least in part because those who smoked it before aren't as afraid to admit it now. But it's very likely, I think, that more people would smoke pot. You can point to Amsterdam and say that there's less teen smokers than in the US, but I think the total numbers would go up.

So would that be considered a cost of lifting prohibition and the drastic reduction in social ills everywhere else well worth it? Or is more use, so long as it's sufficiently safe not really an issue?

Steve Rolles said...

Hi shawn

have a look at the report linked in the left margin of the blog - After the war on drugs - options for control. there is a chapter called concerns about legalisation and regulation which considers the potential impact on prevalence. Happy to hear what you think....

Micahel Mantion said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Micahel Mantion said...

Good article.

My friends wallet got stolen about 2 weeks ago and I heard it has happened before. When are they going to learn that restricting theft and burglary with laws won't work.. I mean people are idiots. I knew this girl that was rapped once, it was really messed up, if only we knew that if we made rape legal, then we could regulate it and tax it. Making rape illegal only forces it underground, you can't change the desires of rapist. You can't stop the supply of women to be rapped. Besides rape doesn't really hurt anyone. Especially if the raper is drunk, high or hopped up on meth.

Rape isn't a big problem Look at alcohol, we tried to prohibited it in the US. Admittedly it saw amazing successes where it was actually enforced. Sure there was dramatic declines in spouse abuse, public violence, Cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis. Yes productive, home ownership, personal wages and personal saving did increase where the law was enforced. But the law makers should of realised that cops decide what laws to enforce and it is their right to take bribes from moonshiners, speak easy and orginize crime. Yes murder rates, public intoxication and general violance did increase where prohabition was ignored. This doesn't mean the law worked. Just because a law works where it is enforced and not where it is unenforced should prove to us, that laws in general... DON'T WORK.

Since that mistake, America has slowly increased it's consumption of alcohol. Thankfully crimes related to public intoxication, fatal liver disease, fatal traffic accidents and incidents of sexual assaults have increased to healthy levels. In the last 2 decades law makers have found a balance in DUI laws. They have managed to maximize fines and increase the demand and pay for law enforcement, legal representation and other related industries. While still only managing to cut Fatal accidents related to alcohol, consumptions only slightly. There is a happy balance where fatalities and profits can both be at healthy levels. If we lesson murder laws or only restrict murder in certain situations we can also maximize fatalities and Murder Related Revenue. We need to take a serious look at laws that we have that keep our populations high. Ultimately if we can modify laws enough we can get a control on overpopulation and maximize revenue for the remaining population.

If we lower the penalties and conviction rate for drug usage and trafficking, more people will be able to over dose on Cocaine, more people will have access to a substance that is so desirable people die directly from taking too much. Not to mention we could exponentially increase cocaine induced insanity and violence. We can increase the level of family suffering related to cocaine addiction.

I can't tell you the number of families I have personally know that have been devastated by cocaine addictions. Nothing would please me more to see this happen and levels similar or even grater to alcohol addiction. Laws restrict our ability to be a burden to ourselves, our families and society. They create stability that only increases population, happiness and general health. We need more suffering, more crying mothers, more broken families, more sexual assaults, more violence and more homicide, and suicide. We all should have the freedom to decide what is moral and immoral. If you don't want to murder someone, if you don't want to rape someone, if you don't want to lose control of your life through addictions, that is your choice. When is society going to learn it is wrong to decide what is moral or immoral. If you think burglary is immoral don't do it.. It is just that simple..

Legalize slavery
Legalize pot
Legalize Rape
legalize Theft
legalize cocaine
legalize murder
Legalize Alcohol, oh wait we did that, Look how much better society is with all the death and suffering related to alcohol abuse. It is better that mothers cry while their kids are burried from a drunk driving accident. Wife and children need to be beaten by their intoxicated fathers. Women should drink to the point where they have less control over their bodies resulting rape and or unintended pregnacy. Not to mention the shear joy that comes from intoxication. The trill of passing out, of getting into fights, yelling at strangers and loved ones. Lets not forget about not remembering any of it, especially throwing up in your friend car, or making a mess of your house or someone else's. And of course the wonder feel of hang overs and an empty wallet.

I thank science every day that we have alcohol so that so much pain and suffering can be had and so much profit can be made by those who regulate it.

The fight is not over, there are more laws that need to be unenforced or reversed entirely.


Steve Rolles said...

Hi Mike

I appreciate the points your trying to make, there's really no need to be all clever clogsy and sarcastic. You are however confusing several points IMHO.

firstly there is a big difference between an adult partaking in a personally risky activity, (be it drug use, rock climbing or riding a motorbike), and raping, murdering or stealing. The former is not a crime in the classic sense (self harm is not illegal in any other context than drug use - up to and including suicide), whilst the latter - which involve deliberate and wilful harm of a third party, are obviously crimes and should obviously remain so. There is some confusion in your post about what criminal law is, and what its function is - ie to prevent individuals and a society from harm committed by others. The mockery of drug law reform on the basis that, 'why dont we legalise everything and all crime would dissapear' is entirely ridiculous and intellectually puerile. Many things have been legalised throughout the last century because their prohibitions were either unethical (homosexuality), or inpractical and counter productive (abortion, bookies, suicide, prostitution etc).

The second error you make is to assume that prohibition has been effective at reducing or eliminating drug use, drug misuse, or indeed overall drug related harm. I would take issue wiuth your analysis of the success of alcohol prohibition, as would many historians, but lets look at more contemporary drug prohibition - how has that policy 'triumph' prevented the tragedies you have witnessed, or prevented the dramatic leap in drug use over the past 2 generations - answer: it manifestly hasnt.

If you want to prevent health related harms caused by drugs - why do you suggest a criminal justice response? one that has been such a dramatic failure ove the past century, even where it has been harshly enforced, in for example the US - with the highest drug use in the western world. Not ony does this approach increase the harms associated with use, it also creates a raft of secondary problems associated with criminal markets.

If you bother to read any Transform literature you would know this because the point is made repeatedly. We are also no defenders of the inadequate regulation of alcohol and tobacco. It is entirely consistent to call for better regulation of currently legal drugs and better regualtion of currently illegal drugs - that are currently regulated by profiteering gangsters and unregulated street dealers - a situation you seem to approve of, assuming I have understood you correctly.

Take a look at Transforms report: after the war on drugs - (downloadable as a pdf - just click on the icon in the right margin)or read some of the other posts on this blog. this one for example about inadequate regulation of tobbacco, or this one about regulating alcohol and gambling.

be great if you could engage with the actual arguments being made by intelligent advocates of reform in this debate, rather than the tabloid characeture of them.