Letter: War on drugs

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Sir: Three of your correspondents (8 September) rightly decry the cruel, stupid and wholly misnamed "War on Drugs".

As ever, our government sycophantically follows and applauds the United States, where most of the enthusiasm for waging this "war" comes from. I wonder what they consider to be the "enemy" exactly? Is it those who take drugs? Is it the substances themselves? Or is it simply that governments generally don't like the idea of their citizens getting high, no matter how responsibly?

Perhaps we would do better to declare a cease-fire in this nonsensical war, which is in any event being lost, and instead see how we can begin to minimise by more peaceful means the undisputed misery that often arises in connection with prohibition and substance abuse. This will require vision and courage on the part of our leaders: vision to see a better path forward and courage to risk the disapproval of the Americans and conservative Middle-Englanders who protest loudly at the thought of any policy shift. A Royal Commission would be a good first step and is urgently needed.

With the enormous amounts of money involved in the drugs trade, there are some powerful vested interests keen to maintain the status quo. What drug baron wants to see his profits disappear with legalisation? And what government agency director wants to see his job and influence vanish?

Ronald and Nancy Reagan famously exhorted us to "Just say No." Perhaps it is time to reflect on the words of another American, Timothy Leary, who replied: "Just say Know."


Southall, Middlesex