Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Lies, more lies and Manx drug legislation

As from today, so-called ‘legal highs’ become ‘illegal highs’ on the Isle of Man.
OK, we knew that was coming from articles like in what passes for a Manx press.
But interestingly, and following the new practice of various ‘Freedom to Fester’ partners, the DHA chose to release the official news today on Manxnet first at . The press release is misleading from beginning to end, but then local reporting has also been a wee bit.....minimal?
Thing is, Manx hacks were invited to a ‘confidential’ briefing in the Chief Minister’s bunker a few weeks back. It is interesting to see how all have since happily trotted out the party line. Even Radio Cowshed’s resident dissident, Stuart Peters, from whom I’d expect at least a token sixties flashback. No queries, no supplementary research, not even words from medical experts to explain the alleged need for a further infringement of personal liberty.
The first two we can put down to the government playing games with the media over their tightened PR budget, and the threat of reduced income from government notices in the case of Johnston Press - AKA IOM Newspapers (who only set up shop here to get that income) or direct government subsidy in the case of Radio Cowshed.
The lack of medical comment is easy to explain too. The Isle of Man Drug & Alcohol Strategy Team contains no chemist, no medical expert, no psychologist or psychiatrist, or indeed anyone who could, in the real world, be regarded as an authority on the subjects under discussion. When they want ‘evidence’, they just download it from the UK’s Home Office.
Which is where they have a particular problem, because, as the UK press were reporting happily last month, most of the academics Gordon Brown relies on to excuse tougher drug policies and placate Daily Mail readers do not think the laws need to be tougher, do not think the current drug classification system is correct, and do not even think some of the substances previously illegal should be so.
Oh, let the cat out of the bag there with that word ‘previous’ did I? Well, see elsewhere on the IOM Newspapers website under ‘national news’ (as in UK national).
Oops, did some lazy sod at the DHA or one of our ever busy Manx newshounds forget to tell you? The entire Manx program was lifted from the UK Home Office, who ‘coincidentally’ introduce exactly the same measures today, having (unlike the IOM) at least done something that passes for research and consultation.
I say ‘passes’ because it wasn’t a proper exercise either. But for one typical example of expert parties who entered into the spirit of the thing, tried to look at the thing properly and make a submission to that process, look at the Transform briefing at
The difference in quality is, I politely suggest, staggering. Which makes the entire Manx travesty even more of a nonsense.

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