It's almost official - it's all been a 50 year waste of time, the worldwide 'war on drugs'. According to this report in the Daily Telegraph, some seriously sensible people like the former heads of MI5, CPS and the BBC have come out in support of a new parliamentary committee calling for the decriminalisation of drugs. Ok maybe saying John Birt, former Director General of the BBC is 'sensible' might be going a bit too far, but even so it should be coming clear to all enlightened folk that our policy towards drugs has been an unmitigated disaster in every respect.
Despite all the huge law enforcement effort put into cracking the so-called drug cartels, availability has never been greater, along with potential illegal profits to be made. The whole damn charade, from small time drug busts to warships on the high seas has only succeeded in ensuring that the street price has been maintained and not slumped due to over-supply. Of course the same basic economic laws of supply and demand that keep capitalism supposedly running smoothly operate just as well in the unregulated and tax free world of international drug supply. In my mind all we've succeeded in doing is create the perfect conditions in which mega criminality can flourish. The price is kept stable and law enforcement just takes out the inept or unlucky, leaving the field open for the ruthless and skilled. Just look at what's happening in Mexico.
Lets all hope that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform can have more success in influencing government policy than they have in choosing a snappy working title. Their chairman Baroness Meacher is quoted as saying
“Criminalising drug users has been an expensive catastrophe for individuals and communities. “In the UK the time has come for a review of our 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. I call on our Government to heed the advice of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that drug addiction should be recognised as a health problem and not punished.
“We have the example of other countries to follow. The best is Portugal which has decriminalised drug use for 10 years. Portugal still has one of the lowest drug addiction rates in Europe, the trend of Young people's drug addiction is falling in Portugal against an upward trend in the surrounding countries, and the Portuguese prison population has fallen over time.”