Beverley Hills is a name we are going to hear a lot more of in future. She is one of the Blair Babes, and has been working for the last two years as the government drugs czarina. And she thinks she has cracked the problem of drug addiction in this country. All that remains is for her solution to be put to the test.
"I am constantly being pressurised to decriminalise drugs," she says, "by people who say it will put the drugs barons out of business, and who point to what happened uin the USA when Prohibition ended. Now, I accept that argument as far as it goes, but I draw a different conclusion from it.
"You see, there was a great deal of romance involved in illicit drink – the whole speakeasy, bootlegging, moonshine, after-hours culture was very attractive to people, and still has overtones of the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. We forget that people also died from drinking crude moonshine.
"It's just like today. Kids die at raves after taking impure drugs, but it's still a very attractive milieu. People didn't stop going to speakeasies because someone had suffered from badly made hooch, and people won't stop clubbing because some teenager has taken an overdose of ecstasy."
Brave words, for a government appointee. So what does Beverley Hills intend to do about it ?
"I intend to press for a change in the image of drugs."
Wow...! Er, what does that actually mean?
"My intention is deter people from buying drugs by putting them on sale in places they wouldn't be seen dead in."
Like, undertaker's offices?
"For a start," says Beverley Hills, ignoring this uncultured comment, "I hope to get cannabis separated from the so-called hard drugs, and marijuana reclassified as a herbal product."
A herbal product?
"Therefore marijuana will have to be sold through health-food shops. To get a smoke, you will have to go to a health food shop, just as you do now to get herbal cigarettes or soya or tofu..."
Good Lord. Will people really want to go to a health food shop to get a smoke?
"No, they won't. That's the idea. The image will be totally alien to them. I am gambling that the sort of person who happily endangers his health by smoking cannabis – that is, runs the double risk of smoking damage and drug damage – will not be the sort of person who goes after carrot cake and molasses."
Hmmm. And will cocaine and heroin and crack and pills and powders be available in health-food shops as well?
"Certainly not! Most health foods seem to come in powder form anyway. Far be it from me to increase the number. My first idea for hard drugs, actually, was to have them on sale at the doctor's surgery."
On prescription, you mean?
"Not really. Just via a doctor. To get to see a doctor these days you have to be so persistent and so patient that you might well have outworn your addiction by the time you get an appointment and have waited to see a doctor. But then I had a better idea. To limit the sale of hard drugs to the medical counters of residential homes for the old! Bang next to the incontinence pads and Fortisan and whatever old folk need – can you imagine what a deterrent that would be to young drug-takers!"
But selling drugs to people in old folks' homes must be wrong, surely?
"Well, the old themselves would hardly want any. A lot of them are on copious drugs as it is and don't want their minds altered more than they are already. But if you were younger, and needed drugs, and could only get them at a residential home, you'd have to know an old person in order to be able to get in. That would mean that lots more old people would suddenly get visits from young people, anxious to enlist their services. Old people, as an access point to drugs, would become much in demand again. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
Excuse me. Does Beverley Hills really think these crazy ideas would work?
"That's not really the point. The job of a czar or czarina is not to change anything. Has John Birt's appointment as crime czar changed anything? My role as drugs czarina is to go on lots of radio and TV shows, become a national figure and get the drugs debate industry rolling in earnest."
Beverley Hills is now available for interview.Reuse content