Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A case for legalisation

(a) you’re as bored as I am by pointless self-congratulatory pieces in the local press written by Dept of Home Affairs staff about the ‘success’ of the Drug Squad and the Chief Minister’s Drug & Alcohol Strategy and
(b) you’re as irritated as I am at the way Manx government agencies play to redneck ignorance or ask dimwit faith groups for ‘advice’ instead of researching and discussing drug issues properly…..
you might want to look at some proper research on the topic.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation (you can find them on the sidebar) have just commissioned and conducted the first proper report into the likely results of legalising most of the stuff currently banned by the Misuse of Drugs Act. It was published yesterday.
TDPF considered four possible scenarios, ranging from no increase to 100% increase in use of currently illegal drugs under conditions which would see them legalised, taxed but well controlled, rather than continuing to waste police and other resources just tracking down and arresting users and sellers.
Working mainly from Home Office and No. 10 Strategy Unit reports, Steve Rolles , Head of Research at TDPF, came to some suprising conclusions. In effect, a regulated drugs market could save between £4.4 billion and £13.9 billion in England and Wales.
He also finds that the UK government have done their own quiet research and, contrary to the public stance, their experts agree legalisation makes sense.
For example, Rolles uncovered an Independent Drug Monitoring Unit survey which considered how to raise taxes amounting to £1 per gram on cannabis resin and £2 per gram on skunk. He also discovered that the UK government has carried out at least two major surveys into such a scenario, but neither are available despite Freedom of Information Act requests.
The report ends:
“The conclusion is that regulating the drugs market is a dramatically more cost-effective policy than prohibition and that moving from prohibition to drugs-regualted markets in England and Wales would provide a net saving to taxpayers, victims of crime, communities, the criminal justice system and drug users of somewhere between within the range of, for the four scenarios, £13.9 billion, £10.8 billion, £7.7 billion and £4.4billion.”
You can read the report for yourself at or a summary of some main arguments by Danny Kushlick of TDPF at .
And the funny thing is, rather than the increasingly conformist liberal press, it is the business press that backs such moves.
Who would have thought it? Touchy-feely hippie types gang up with evangelical ignoramuses to condemn hedonism or tout their dubious therapies, while pinstriped bods think it would make better economic and social sense if you could just buy skunk at Boots.
I kid you not. Even The Economist concluded last month:
“Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution”.

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