Washington and Portugal point the way forward - we're fools to keep fighting this War on Drugs

Not only was the Government's response to yesterday's report outrageously trite, the tide of history is against prohibitionists.

Share

A group of MPs widely described as "influential" published a report yesterday in which they said, very clearly, that the government's policy on drugs was a catastrophic failure – and then said, very unclearly, what to do about it. On a generous reading of events, the latter fact may be related to a statement made by a "government spokesman" in response to the report which proves they're not so influential after all. It is possibly the stupidest thing said by any public servant this year.

"Drugs are illegal because they are harmful", belched this historically illiterate and possibly teenage buffoon, before adding: "they destroy lives and blight communities". This is a sentence to enrage any right-thinking person, utterly ignorant of the lessons of the past century – in 2014 it's a hundred years since the start of the 'War on Drugs', the most disastrous policy error in the history of mankind – and oozing the kind of base morality common in theocrats.

The case for legalisation of drugs combines principle with practicality. In principle, it is not the business of the state to remove by liberty, unless by the exercise of that liberty I harm others. It is very, very, very clear to anyone who can open their eyes in our inner cities, or visit Mexico, Afghanistan, or the Balkans, where whole nation states are dissolving because of idiotic prohibition, that criminalising drugs increases rather than decreases the harm they cause.

As for practice, drugs will always be with us. You cannot eradicate demand. You cannot eradicate supply. Therefore you have a choice. Do you give control of distribution to violent barons and gangsters, as we do now, or do you legalise and regulate, so reducing the power of those criminals and the harm they cause?

To all the parents out there, let's be very clear: if you think that criminalising drugs preserves your son or daughter from harm, you must have absolutely no idea about the society, let alone world, you live in.

We are not flying blind.

Other brave pioneers have shown us there is an alternative. In Portugal, decriminalisation reduced consumption of drugs and associated crime. It also reduced the spread of harmful diseases. Result!

Even Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper wrote an editorial yesterday flirting with legalisation, if done internationally. Milton Friedman, one of Rupert's heroes, championed legalisation too. He recognised that the prohibitionists have decades of calamity, criminality, and suffering to answer for. They will be defeated, because the tide of history is against them, and their spokesmen are useless.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities