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.


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.

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