12/16/2010

I bet Ed Milliband is less than impressed

The former Labour defence minister, Bob Ainsworth, has called for the decriminalisation of all drugs, in a move that is likely to incur the wrath of the Labour leadership.

When I studied in Coventry from 1994-97, I lived for a short time in Bob Ainsworth's seat, and he was called by political types I knew as "bloody useless Bob". He never impressed as Defence Minister, and it appears a short spell back in opposition has done nothing to improve matters.

3 comments:

Mark Reckons said...

Why does provoking a debate about a manifestly failed policy that most politicians don't seem to want to talk about make him useless? Fair play to him I say. I don't care where the spark comes from for the discussion, I am just glad it is happening.

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

Well, after 50-odd years of trying to prohibit drugs I think the evidence is quite clear: prohibition doesn't work worth a damn. In most places, even out-in-the-sticks backwaters like Lampeter in Wales, if people want drugs they can get 'em very easily indeed; all the prohibition does is drive up the cost, drive up the profit margins for drug dealers, and increase the amount of petty crime the addicts commit to get money for drugs.

Were you to legalise most common drugs, then the amount of low-level crime would decrease somewhat, especially as opiate addicts could be treated medically instead of criminally.

Alcohol these days causes a lot of trouble in towns. Were most narcotics legal, then some experimentation with drug mixtures could take place; it might be that synthetic cannabinoids mixed with benzodiazeprenes, say, would offer a better "blitzed out of your mind" experience to young drunks, and such a mixture would create far fewer problems for police.

Anyway, the point is this: the current policy doesn't work. Continuing with manifest failure is the hallmark of utter morons, so let's try something different for a change.

Peter B said...

Sorry Nich I disagree with you entirely on this one.

Is it populist to scream for a hard line on maintenance of drug laws? Of course, but that does not make it the best option. Does drug misuse cause immense harm? Again of course - I spent too many years working in mental health settings not to have seen this. Would I use popularly misused drugs were they legal or want my friends or family to do so? Not on your life! However I also believe Ainsworth is right to argue for examination of the possibility of undermining the criminals by substituting medically controlled (free or low cost)legal supply for virtually unpreventable illegal supply. You will find many professionals in the field who will argue this. Needless to say they will not be listened to by most politicians who would prefer to maintain easy position by not challenging the popular view. We live in a society which would much prefer to continue to pretend that prohibition will work eventually when all the evidence is it will not no matter how much money we throw away in it's support. Ainsworth deserves credit, not criticism, for stepping out of line and presenting the truth that conventional approaches are repeatedly failing and by asking for open and honest discussion of alternatives - whatever his other failings may be.

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