Letter: The increased price of legalising cannabis

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The Independent Online
Sir: Some years ago it was estimated that pounds 500m worth of goods have to be stolen every year to provide funds for addicts to buy drugs on the black market. No doubt it is much more now.

This surely is a major cause of crime, if not the major cause, certainly of petty theft and burglary. The legalisation of cannabis, which your leading article advocated ('A drug law that promotes crime', 2 October), would be a first step towards reducing it.

When I was a medical student in the 1950s we were taught that virtually the only hard-drug addicts in this country were doctors and nurses. Then came the dramatic importation from the United States of the punitive attitude towards drug takers - a left-over from their disastrous Prohibition - which replaced our traditional liberalism. With the new attitude came the gangsterism that we now suffer from.

If Michael Howard really wants to reduce crime, rather than merely punish the criminals, he should set up a commission to consider the relationship of drugs and crime, and to look into how drug laws could be relaxed in line with alcohol and tobacco - and to make recommendations.

Yours faithfully,

ROGER JAMES

Southsea,

Hampshire

8 October

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