Is legalising the answer to drugs problem?

Mick Gradwell
Mick Gradwell
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The war on drugs cannot be won so should we make using drugs legal? Our prisons are full of drug users, dealers and traffickers, and annually there are large seizures of drugs by HM Customs and the police. Yet none of this very expensive and intensive activity is having any major impact on reducing the availability of drugs or curbing the demand for them.

So it is not surprising that a group of MPs is calling for more research to establish whether there is a case for legalising the production, sale and use of cannabis and a total redrafting of our outdated drugs laws. Although the prime minister was immediately dismissive of the suggestion, there appears to be a much wider public acceptance for the proposal than ever before and it would follow the road taken by Portugal, Holland, Uruguay and the US States of Washington and Colorado.

Realistically the war on drugs will never be won and there is an apparent futility to arresting, convicting and imprisoning drug dealers, because the gap left in the supply chain is quickly filled by others.

But is legalising drugs the answer? Over the last few months I have visited Holland several times and have listened to locals extol the virtues of their successful liberal approach to the use of cannabis. However, there is growing evidence that things may be going a bit pear- shaped as organised criminal gangs appear to be taking advantage of the soft approach to drugs use and prostitution.

Politicians are now attempting to limit the sale of cannabis to just locals and are desperately trying to reduce the size and number of red light areas. They are introducing legislation to ban the smoking of cannabis in or near schools, as too many students are turning up stoned for class. They are also creating what are being called ‘scum villages’ for low-level offenders, who are often drug users. These man-made villages of shipping containers and mobile homes house all the ‘bad eggs in one basket’, who then live under the constant supervision of social workers and the police. I wonder if they got the idea for this from the film Escape to New York?

It is time for our drug laws to be reviewed and updated but I am yet to be convinced that legalising certain drugs is a route this country should take.

It would open the door to organised criminal gangs and would be responsible for a whole host of health issues and other personal dangers.

Instead, I would strongly support increased funding for drug education and treatment programmes, while maintaining a hard-line approach to the targeting of drug dealers and traffickers. We may never actually win the war against drugs but that doesn’t mean we should surrender and give up trying.