Wednesday 18 August 2010

The War on Drugs continued

A staggering 28,000 people have been killed in the last four years in Mexico's "war on drugs." In one of the most bizarre episodes, last month a group of prisoners in Durango was apparently released from gaol for a night so they could murder 18 guests at a party.

Now President Calderon has called for a debate on whether drugs should be legalised. Meanwhile, in California, people will vote in a referendum in November on whether to legalise and tax marijuana.

In the UK, Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, has also called for drugs to be decriminalised, on the grounds that it would improve health and reduce crime. Depressingly, the government reflected for about three seconds, before dismissing the idea on the grounds that "we want to reduce drug use, crack down on drug-related crime and disorder and help addicts come off drugs for good."

It would be lovely if nobody took drugs, just as it would be lovely if nobody smoked, but millions of people do, and intelligent policy making has to start from that point. There is absolutely no evidence that the government's present policy is achieving its objectives and it is certainly generating a huge violent criminal industry. It's claimed that use of drugs in Portugal has actually fallen since they were decriminalised in 2001.

(See also my blogs of June 10 and 12.)

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