Letter: Liberty and illusion in the war on drugs

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Letter: Liberty and illusion in the war on drugs

Sir: Two correspondents (letters, 15 February) present respectable and valid arguments for an alternative approach to the "war on drugs". Surely the most important point to be considered is individual freedom.

As John Stuart Mill put it in his seminal work On Liberty, first published in 1859: "The only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant ... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

In the National Drugs Campaign Survey commissioned by the Health Education Authority in 1995-1996, 45 per cent of all those questioned said that they had taken at least one of the listed drugs, and 54 per cent of 20- 22-year-olds said they had taken cannabis at some time. Just how many people need to break a law before it is repealed?


Burnham, Buckinghamshire