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Drugs (please) – is it time to decriminalise them within the UK??

(87 Posts)
Isitmebut Thu 30-Oct-14 13:42:46

Coalitions eh?, who’d have ‘em, but this is clearly a serious subject, so shall we kick it around?

“No link between tough penalties and drug use – report”

“There is "no obvious" link between tough laws and levels of illegal drug use, a government report has found.”

“^Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Norman Baker said the report, comparing the UK with other countries, should end "mindless rhetoric" on drugs policy.”^

”He accused the Conservatives of "suppressing" the findings for months.”

”Tory MP Michael Ellis said the Lib Dems had "hijacked" it for political gain. The government says it has "no intention" of decriminalising drugs.”

My opening view for what it is worth, begins with that on any substance abuse, comparing other countries experiences with ours, seems to provide pants results.

For a start would we be ready for the likes of legal hubbly bubbly pipe shops, on the high street?

Do you remember extending our drinking hours was going to provide in the UK a European type “cafe culture”, where we would be sipping away to the early hours an alcoholic beverage – but has ended up with citizens lying in the gutter, vomiting, putting daily pressures on the police, NHS A&E staff, and longer term expensive damage to those citizens bodies, the NHS, and society as a whole.

I am not an expert on drug taking/abuse, but alcohol on the other hand I spent a lot of enjoyable time on that subject UNTIL a problem very close to home arose and affected the whole family.

But I’d just like to make a few points before opening the subject to the board.

- Even accepting that within the UK there is no link between ‘tough penalties and drugs’, can we afford to socially find out that if TAKING AWAY those penalties, drug use then markedly rose?

- On the subject of affordability, clearly the more money that can be spent preventing drug abusers/addicts getting into a position to commit criminal acts the better.

So are those overseas results DEPENDING on a lot more money being spent on this, when during our high budget deficit economy now and for years to come - there are so many other money pressures that urgently need more funds e.g. mental health?

- Are we in such a sad economic, social and criminal place, that for the years ahead, taking account of our apparently non café culture, it is more ‘convenient’ to keep our drugs policy as is, trying to ‘lock away’ the problem?

WoTmania Thu 30-Oct-14 18:33:57

I'm in favour of the decriminalisation of drugs.
IMO there is a massive difference between drug use and drug abuse - You are never going to stop people taking them so may as well regulate and make it easier for addicts to get help in the same way alcoholics can for example.
I know people who use cannabis for example in the same way many others use alcohol to unwind or relax at the weekend. These people aren't suddenly going to develop a raging drug habit (they did that in their twenties) just because it's suddenly not criminal.
Likewise those who do try and become addicted probably would have anyway but, as I said earlier, would be able to access help more easily and would hopefully be more truthful about the reasons/what they were taking if they had to speak to HCPs rather than feeling they had to hide it.

BackOnlyBriefly Thu 30-Oct-14 19:02:16

I'd support decriminalisation if we can find a way to do it right.

I'd much prefer if no one took drugs and I include alcohol in that, but if they are going to take them anyway then we can improve things by decriminalising them.

It would be important not to send the message that they were a really neat idea. We don't want to actively encourage young people to start.

I use to drink, but gave it up because I liked it too much. Cannabis is safer and I can take that or leave it. if I could get some conveniently and safely in with my shopping I'd probably use it now and then. Strictly speaking that would be one extra drug user, but it would do no harm and it never made me want to fight someone.

One possible advantage of decriminalisation is that it removes the need for dealers, but what about children? I assume we won't allow under-age drug use so does that mean the dealers fight over who gets to sell in the playground?

Who would sell them? If we let private companies do so they'd have an incentive to get more customers. If they were a government monopoly then they could be sold at a small mark-up and the money could go back into something useful.

Plonkysaurus Thu 30-Oct-14 19:26:42

People have always and will always find ways to take drugs. The problem with anything that's against the law is that people will always find a way. With abortions we recognise this, and we provide safe supportive environments for women to access them. Not everyone likes it but it's got to be better than a quack "doctor" in a back alley putting a woman's life in danger. Decriminalising drugs, with a view to regulating them (through prescriptions or rationing portions), and then providing actual support for users of hard drugs to get clean and live well has to be better. Do you honestly know what kind of support we offer heroin addicts in this country? They wait weeks for a prescription for methodone, often having to go cold turkey without adequate help, then the prescription can be sold on or stolen anyway.

They are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Often they are physically and sexually abused, or groomed for exploitation. The only people who benefit from their existence are shady drug lords who deserve to be stripped of their assets and banged up. Decriminilisation would go some way to ending these problems.

claig Thu 30-Oct-14 19:57:01

Don't decriminalise it. Start getting tough on the dealers and cut the supply. Hire more police and start stamping it out.

theposterformallyknownas Thu 30-Oct-14 20:02:31

I don't know why cannabis can't be legal tbh, I think its less harmful than alcohol.
I don't drink as I can't stomach it anymore, used to drink lots in my late teens and early twenties.
Likewise if you could buy cannabis on the high street there would be far more chilled out folk, fewer fights on a fri and Sat night, maybe less alcohol consumption.

TalkinPeace Thu 30-Oct-14 20:10:00

I was in Washington State this summer - where cannabis is now legal.
Sadly Seattle has a huge homeless and mental health problem so the people smoking really strong pipes of grass outside restaurants were pretty unpleasant.

In the much more mellow European States, I can see it being allowed to quietly happen by default
at a huge saving in
- police time
- court time
- prison space
the whole 'gateway drug' argument falls apart with decriminalisation

remember that the medics and researchers tend to only come into contact with those users who have not managed to stay clear of the medics and the police
they therefore have a deeply distorted view of the actual impacts.

Solopower1 Thu 30-Oct-14 21:16:20

I've always been in favour of legalising it, for all the reasons above.

Until I realised three things. I caught myself thinking that I would buy some, if I could get it legally, cheaply and ready-rolled. So I would start to take it, whereas I don't now. Then I thought how when my children reached 18, my heart dropped at the thought of all the alcohol and smoke that would be going into their healthy, sporty bodies - when they didn't have to hide it from me any more. I really wouldn't want to add cannabis to the mix. And that is because I believe there is a proven link between cannabis and psychosis in some young people.

So I suggest that it is legalised, but only for the over 60s. As a retirement present.

Otherwise, no work would ever get done, as everyone would be busy chilling, man.

BackOnlyBriefly Thu 30-Oct-14 21:28:14

Well my doubts included the possibility of encouraging young people to start, but it seems like they all get the chance anyway so maybe that makes no difference. I don't get out a lot these days and not to cool places, but isn't it the case that everything is available?

It's a good point (and a funny image) of people too relaxed to get any work done, but maybe we'd be better off if they do that instead of drinking. I just did a quick google and it seems that between 8 and 14 million working days are lost each year in the UK because of alcohol.

MollyMaDurga Thu 30-Oct-14 21:31:39

I was a social worker in the Netherlands, worked with homeless people and addicts. One department had a program for problematic chronic users and they got heroin on prescription. It was not easy to get into the program and certainly not easy to follow but the results were amazing. We got people back in a house, putting weight on and being healthy, starting counseling and no more crime, no need to hustle if your dope is sorted. I'm all for it but not on the free market because there is no such thing as a free market. In the market you get the organised crime, abuse. . This will have to be monied by health workers and professionals.

MollyMaDurga Thu 30-Oct-14 21:32:03

Monitored, not monied!

TalkinPeace Thu 30-Oct-14 21:34:32

The street price of cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines has been unchanged in cash terms for the last 20 years - meaning it has dropped significantly after inflation
implying that the current system has had little or no impact on the level of supply, it has just enriched criminals

Any teenager or adult who wants to get hold of illegal drugs or underage alcohol for that matter will have little or no difficulty doing so.

Decriminalising will merely push the criminals further away from day to day life.

JuxtheDaemonVampire Thu 30-Oct-14 23:23:28

I am very much in favour of decriminalisation, actually of legalisation (is that different? I am not a user of any illegal drugs though I think I could get some sort of cannabis on prescription if I wanted to, but I'm not.

There are lots of reasons why, but the most straightforward ones are:

Freeing up police so they can work on other crimes.
Massive amounts of tax revenue from the legal sale of drugs.
Quality control of the drugs sold.

It's worth it for the tax revenue alone.

claig Fri 31-Oct-14 00:07:10

Well done Labour for once. Alan Johnson on This Week says don't decriminalise drugs, and yet we have Cameron's old mate and one of his former speech writers, a Daily Mail senior journalist no less, wanting it decriminalised. Alan Johnson brilliant getting angry with that progressive, Ian Birrell, sadly a Daily Mail journalist.

JuxtheDaemonVampire Fri 31-Oct-14 09:49:41

Are you being ironic, claig?

Alan Johnson babbled about a putative black market for drugs should they be decriminalised forgetting that atm we have an enormous actual black market. I thought he was simply toeing a line without using his brain cells. I'll listen to it again on iPlayer later just to see if he actually does say something sensible.

People will take drugs, as long as people supply them - and there will always be a supply because the money involved makes it worthwhile.

If you control the supply, tax it, ensure the quality, then the members of your society are safer and happier.

claig Fri 31-Oct-14 10:04:51

Alan Johnson was very angry at Ian Birrell. I have never seen Alan Johnson so angry about anything as he spoke of the council estates which public school Birrell may not have been to.

'People will take drugs, as long as people supply them - and there will always be a supply because the money involved makes it worthwhile.'

We are told that Japan has zero tolerance. What happens there? What are the drug use statistics there? I believe in stamping down on supply and the suppliers and that means really tough sentences where the tariff is the tariff, no coming out half-way through etc.

More police, stamp out the criminals who make money out of misery. Don't give up and open the flood gates.

'If you control the supply, tax it, ensure the quality, then the members of your society are safer and happier.'

I think it sends the wrong message and will encourage more young people to take drugs and I think that is a bad thing, and of course the criminals will create a black market (as Johnson said).

Isitmebut Fri 31-Oct-14 10:25:19

Japan is a completely different society, that arguably does not need zero tollerence, you have to visit and (safely) walk around Tokyo etc past midnight to see the 'public order' for yourself, they even stand patiently in line to get on a tube train - so its not just the neighbourhood Yakuza influences above ground. lol

P.s. Is Cameron perpetually responsible for the words of every person he has ever worked with, even if his official government position is different to their opinion?

claig Fri 31-Oct-14 10:27:42

' they even stand patiently in line to get on a tube train '

So do I and I stand patiently in line at the ballot box when I vote too.

claig Fri 31-Oct-14 10:31:40

Here's Birrell, one of them what's called "modernisers". I am glad Cameron has backed a bit of "common sense" for one, but I do have my doubts about some of his "modernising" mates.

"Conservative Party ‘modernisers’ have launched their manifesto today with an attack on immigration controls and a call for the legalisation of heroin. The call came from Ian Birrell, a Guardian journalist, who worked for David Cameron in 2010."

claig Fri 31-Oct-14 10:34:22

Although Farage must have had one pint to many.

"Nigel Farage has declared that he has “never taken drugs” and “hopes he never has to” and he revealed he supported their decriminalisation.

Speaking in a phone in with Telegraph readers today the Ukip leader said the war on drugs had been lost “many, many years ago” and that it was time for them to be legalised – despite strong opposition from his party."

Isitmebut Fri 31-Oct-14 10:58:31

The Farage has spoken,

The Farage who was for 3 train lines one minute, then against the 1 big honking line the Conservatives were planning the next, says 'we have lost the drugs war' lets capitulate - yet in 2010 wanted the Public Sector that would support the drug addicts rather than jail them, to be cut back by 1-2 million (1997 levels) workers.

Claig ... Re the 'cult of Farage', have you seen Toy Story and all those little tiny citizens in a machine who go 'oooooooooo' every time the lid is opened? Well think about that, every time you gush on his every word.

In the 2000's the Labour administration thought that drugs should be declassified , booze available all hours, and was even thinking of a Casino in every city/town - I'm sure UKIP's FTSE Spread Betting owner/UKIP Treasurer/financial backer and UKIP's Leader who admitted when working in the city he drank and gambled way too much, would support that very same 'anti social package' - especially as were NOT Conservative policies.

Isitmebut Fri 31-Oct-14 11:23:57

I wonder if for 'social' reasons, where we have 'lost the war on five betting shops in every parade of local shops years ago', The Farage would dare speak up about THAT addiction????

“Stuart Wheeler (born 30 January 1935) is a British businessman and politician. He made his fortune as the founder of the spread betting firm IG Index in 1974, but is best known for his political activism,[1] being formerly a major donor to the Conservative Party and, since 2011, treasurer of the United Kingdom Independence Party.”

BackOnlyBriefly Fri 31-Oct-14 11:29:27

Claig how will the criminals create a black market?

I suggested one cause for concern earlier, but can you expand on how you think that would work?

Assume for a moment that every GP's surgery has a counter where you can buy any drug for cost + a small handling charge. We really don't want it handled by anyone who'd make a profit on it since they would give them an incentive to get more customers.

Criminals could steal some and sell it half price like they do now for DVD players, but there'd be no profit in importing it to sell would there.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Fri 31-Oct-14 11:31:33

You don't need to legalise drugs to modify drugs policy. You extend the ability of doctors and clinics to prescribe what is needed. It is about pragmatism.

We have had successful trials of prescribing opiates (and other drugs of dependency) in the past and saw crime rates fall, HIV rates fall and the levels of drug induced morbidity fall. This didn't sit well with Reagan and his 'Just Say No' policy and he pressurised Thatcher into closing the pilots down.

If we established an addicts level of dependency and tolerance and then prescribed pharmaceutical grade medication to them along with educating them on safer administration techniques (with the aim of encouraging the least harmful method) we would do immense damage to the illicit drug trade.

Regular testing of the service user to ensure that they are using the Px dose and not selling it on can help reduce the chances of these drugs ending up on the open market. It would be financed by what we save by the reduced rate of crime committed to afford and source drugs.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Fri 31-Oct-14 11:33:35

And it won't encourage people to try to access these prescribed drugs because the user has to prove he has a dependence in the first place in order to gain a prescription..

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