Letter: Drug experiences from New York

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Sir: The arguments this week about decriminalising cannabis are inconsistent in many respects. It is this that makes such a policy 'unrealistic', as you state in your leading article today (21 September), not the reluctance of politicians to 'lead public opinion towards such a U-turn'.

It is acknowledged that 'the biggest consumers of illegal drugs are . . . from the middle and professional classes' ('Cannabis vote a reflection of public mood', 21 September). Yet it is still argued that decriminalisation of use and possession will help solve the problem of drug-related crime. Presumably these drug users finance their use from their salaries, not by burglary and theft.

Those arguing for decriminalisation still seem to want sale and distribution to be a serious crime ('US expert supports 'rational' move', 21 September). If individual use is no more serious than a parking offence, more drugs will be used by more people - as many as commit parking offences, perhaps. There will therefore need to be an increase in the (illegal) supply.

Arguments can be made for cannabis to be legalised based on individual liberty, that alcohol and tobacco are legal, etc. However, an argument for allowing more drug use can never be part of an attempt to reduce drug use. It is only by taking a consistent position and being clear about why it is not good for minds to be more and more under the influence of chemicals that progress will be made towards a solution.

Yours faithfully,

JULIAN GALL

Godalming, Surrey

21 September

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