Books

The war on drugs is stupid and counter-productive

18 July 2015

9:00 AM

18 July 2015

9:00 AM

Rosalio Reta was 13 years old when recruited by a Mexican drug cartel. He was given a loyalty test — shoot dead a man tied to a chair — then moved into a nice house in Texas. Soon he was earning $500 a week for stakeouts and odd jobs, but the big money came from slitting the throats of the gang’s enemies, which paid a $50,000 bonus. Four years later he was arrested after 20 murders; his only remorse was over accidentally sparking a massacre that left him fearing his bosses might exact revenge on him.

Such bloodstained stories of obscene violence in pursuit of obscene wealth fill the pages of the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano’s investigation into the cocaine trade. Children are chucked into wells, decapitated heads roll across dancefloors and faces are stitched on to footballs. The biggest problem for the murderous gangs seems to be how to get rid of so many corpses; one drug baron ended up buying two incinerators to dispose of 20 bodies a week. Meanwhile their use of new media to publicise cruelty and promote fear predates Islamic State’s adoption of similar tactics.

This river of cocaine flows from South America to its most lucrative markets in Europe and North America on aircraft, boats and submarines. Prevention is almost futile, such are the profits when a kilo of a drug costing £1,000 in Colombia can fetch 50 times that in Britain — where it is typically cut down to 20 per cent strength. The Medellín cartel spent £1,500 a month on elastic bands to bundle up all its cash; its boss Pablo Escobar had to employ ten accountants. And cocaine corrupts whatever stands in its way, from politicians in Africa and Latin America to global banks in London and New York that clean up the dirty money.


Saviano has done his research and delivers astonishing anecdotes, as expected from the author of Gomorrah, a brave investigation into the Mafia that sold ten million copies and led to lifelong police protection. But for all the flashy prose, this is a shapeless and rather disappointing work. It does, however, underline the absurdity of handing control of the drug trade to the world’s most ruthless crooks, rather than legalising and regulating it. ‘No business in the world is so dynamic, so relentlessly innovative, so loyal to the pure free market spirit as the global cocaine business,’ he writes correctly.

Far more interesting is Dreamland, a powerful investigation into the explosion of heroin abuse in suburban America that combines skilful reporting and strong research with a superb narrative. The Californian reporter Sam Quinones tells a fascinating twin-track tale of how young men from one Mexican county of 45,000 people flooded the US with cheap black-tar heroin just as vast tracts of the country were becoming hooked on powerful new opiate painkillers. The result was a near-tripling of fatal overdoses in three years, with the number of drug deaths overtaking those dying on roads by 2008.

The traffickers from Xalisco stayed below the radar as they moved into Middle America by eschewing violence and ensuring street dealers carried only small amounts in their mouths, meaning that they were simply deported back over the border if caught. They avoided the competition from major crime gangs they might have met in big cities. And they kept quality high — six times stronger than typical street heroin — while dealers were paid salaries so they did not cut their dope and even gave away free samples to dissatisfied customers. One FBI agent worked out that the Mexicans made $100,000 profit per kilo delivering the drug like pizzas.

This sophisticated imitation of high street marketing coincided with the arrival of a new generation of opioid prescription painkillers. These were highly addictive —unsurprisingly, since the most popular was chemically near-identical to heroin — yet relentlessly promoted as the safe solution for many patient problems. High school kids with sports strains and middle-aged folk with minor ailments became hooked. ‘Pill mills’ opened in depressed Midwest towns to meet demand, with dodgy doctors doling out dozens of prescriptions daily. One study found more than one in ten Ohioans given the opiates — yet there was one overdose death for every two months’ worth of prescriptions.

Inevitably, many pills ended up on the streets and many patients became drug addicts, turning to the teenagers from Xalisco for supplies. It took the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman to wake up the country to the scale of its heroin resurgence and the tide to turn against unfettered opiate use. This startling saga is unfurled in clinical style by Quinones, while also touching on wider issues such as the decline of the Rust Belt, the anxieties of Middle America and the misuse of medical marketing. Ultimately it shows again the stupidity of the war on drugs. ‘It’s so prevalent,’ says one legal expert on heroin. ‘It’s almost like you were trying to stop drinking coffee with a Starbucks on every corner.’

'Zero Zero Zero', £16 and 'Dreamland', £15.99 are available from the Spectator Bookshop, Tel: 08430 600033

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Show comments
  • Zalacain

    It’s as if we are unable to learn from American alcohol prohibition from the 1920’s. Legalise, control and tax drugs. How many users have died over the years because of an overdose or because of impurities?
    Some humans have addictive personalities, gambling, alcohol/drugs, smoking, etc. We don’t help them by banning their addiction as they only find illegal ways of satisfying it. However, it might be possible to use some of the tax money collected from these substances to help addicts.

    • LoveMeIamALiberal

      American alcohol prohibition in the 20s made it a crime to manufacture, transport or sell alcohol but not to possess, purchase or consume. It was in effect a form of decriminalisation for personal use. The Ayatollah’s ban on alcohol in Iran since 1979 has certainly been more effective, but that also criminalised the user as well as the supplier – not saying it’s right, but it works.

      • sidor

        Speaking about effective prohibition. Anyone is interesting to try to appear drunk in a public place in Saudi Arabia?

        • LoveMeIamALiberal

          Excise Duty is 10 lashes per bottle I believe.

        • Zalacain

          Anybody interested in living there?

          • sidor

            Many are. Good salaries. But no booze.

          • Zalacain

            That’s not completely true. The best cognac of my life was given to me in Kuwait. It’s more of one rule for the rich and another for the poor.

          • sidor

            Kuwait is supposed to be quite liberal as compared with KSA.

          • Zalacain

            Yes, but if you were a Filipino caught with a drink you’d get a pretty severe sentence.

          • Terrymac

            Rubbish. It’s “No Booze” for the poor sods at the bottom of the rung! All the elite still get whatever they want. It’s “do as I say not do as I do”.

          • Gilbert White

            Lots of well qualified medical types are, perhaps this is why we import dubious ones from Bongo Bongoville?

          • Infidelissima

            whores

      • post_x_it
      • Terrymac

        Oh, it “works” does it? Only at the cost of people’s human rights that’s all!

        • LoveMeIamALiberal

          And since when was taking mind altering drugs a ‘human right’?

          • Zalacain

            At least it’s an individual’s choice. Alcohol and nicotine are mind altering drugs as well, by the way.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            As is caffeine. But caffeine and nicotine (not tobacco) have relatively mild effects. Let those who want to legalise new drugs show them to be safe (as they would have to do with any other food or medical substance).

          • Zalacain

            You are not saying anything about alcohol.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Alcohol is already legal and has a long and extensive history of use. If that were not the case and we knew what we knew about its effects, we might deal with it differently. The legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco, prescription medicines) result in more deaths through their use than illegal drugs – a good reason for not legalising more drugs. And the intention is to legalise others drugs, not substitute them for alcohol.

          • Zalacain

            People who have a tendency to become addicts will always find a substance, if not one, the other. Making drugs illegal, an experiment that is about 100 years old hasn’t worked. Why not try making them legal? Controlling them, and taxing them?
            To me there is a moral aspect to do with freedom of the individual. Why do you think that you or anybody else has the right to stop me taking any particular substance? As long as I’m not harming any third party, I feel I have the right to do as I like (as an adult). After all, ultimately, nobody is going to stop you eating too many cream buns and dying of obesity or diabetes.
            There are any number of dangers presented by living life. You can become a gambling addict or take part in very risky sports. Part of being a responsible adult is evaluating the different risks and situations and modifying once behaviour accordingly. Isn’t this the essence of Conservatism?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Once you legalise it will be nigh on impossible to make illegal. Drugs use has increased significantly since the 60s so your claim of 100 years experiment does not tally with the facts.
            Your drug use affects others. The drug use has to be legalised for everyone, so it will be more prevalent, more readily accessible to the next generation. No one can stop someone bent on self destructive behaviour but because one can’t influence everyone is not a reason to influence no one. I see nothing moral is making more readily available the means by which people may sicken and stupefy themselves.
            Yes, being a responsible adult is evaluating risks and modifying behaviour is the essence of Conservatism – and so is recognising the risks of not doing so.

          • Zalacain

            I think you are being a bit foolhardy when to talk about my claim not tallying with the facts. Check this link out: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16681673
            A couple of minutes on Google will give you endless headlines on the “100 year war on drugs”. Pre WW1, drugs were freely available in the UK. I have no idea of the statistics of drug abuse, or addiction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was similar to now-a-days.
            As to the rest, I think we have to agree to disagree. I have more faith on the individual and how much freedom they deserve. You are happier with government making these decisions for all of us. There is probably nothing more to be said.

          • matt

            The choice as to whether or not it is safe or whether that matters should be up to individuals, not the state.

          • matt

            There is a long tradition of believing just that. “Over his own mind and body”, Mill eloquently proclaimed, “man is properly regarded as sovereign.” We have a right to determine what goes into our own bodies.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Weren’t there something like a whopping 1,000 G-men?

      To cover the entire US!?!!!

      And as others have said, using it wasn’t a crime.

      Just because in the movies you saw a 1,000 Feds burst in through every door and window to bust the CUSTOMERS in a speakeasy doesn’t mean that’s what actually happened.

      And alcohol is legal in the UK, as is tobacco, but you still get people buying contraband baccy.

      And even dying from impure booze!

    • Workshed

      Adults should be able to grow a small amount of marijuana in their own homes for personal consumption. I trust this younger generation will think differently and that the war on drugs won’t go on much longer.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    There is no war on drugs – get caught in possession of a small quantity of drugs in this country and see how likely you are to be punished, even with a fine. Answer is almost certainly not.

    • Shane Mayfield

      In Texas you will go to jail!

      • Hugo Gufradump

        Move to Colorado.

    • post_x_it

      Yes, and thank heavens for that.
      Most of us are not remotely interested in living in a police state that locks people up for smoking a bit of weed.

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        Who said anything about locking them up? Slapping them with a fine as big as one gets for parking on double yellow lines would be massively more severe than what we have now.

        • post_x_it

          And who would benefit from that?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Deters and reduces drug consumption, thereby reducing the financial incentive to drug supply.

          • oldoddjobs

            Drugs are bad. People who use drugs are stupid and bad. We are the good ones. We need to throw the bad ones into cages for consuming the bad things.

          • Terrymac

            Yeah, quite right too! All those alcoholics and tobacco addicts deserve to be put in cages!

          • matt

            The US has some of the strictest sentences in the world. Does not work too well.

            It is strange that you call yourself a liberal and support the government throwing adults in cages for engaging in voluntary trade.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            The US does not have harsh sentences for possession. Indeed, as in the UK possession does not even result in a fine (which is what I was proposing should you read my previous comments in this thread.
            I’m not a liberal, my username is ironic (clearly lost on you).

          • matt

            I don’t doubt harsher sentences would reduce consumption. Indeed, if we executed people for smoking pot almost nobody would smoke it. So what? Throwing people in a cage for exercising their right to determine what goes into their own body is deplorable.

    • Terrymac

      That’s because we’re much more civilised in this country than they are in the States…or Malaysia…or Singapore…or China…
      Maybe you don’t mind living in a police state just to stop a few people taking drugs, which, after all has nothing to do with you. If you don’t want to take them, then don’t. No one is forcing you. And they wouldn’t be forcing you if they were brought under legal control either.

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        It’s great that you have such a high opinion of how civilised you are. By your own definition you are more civilised than the Swedes and Japanese, both of whom have criminal justice systems that take a dimmer view of drug taking than in the UK.
        The cost of drug addicts to the NHS (paid for from my taxes) is my business. The damage that drugs do to people’s mental and physical health ought to be a concern to any ‘civilised’ person.

        • oldoddjobs

          This is what having the NHS does. It makes strangers financially responsible for each others behaviour. It turns us all against each other.

          • Zalacain

            Exactly, we want less fascism and less socialism!

        • Zalacain

          When you talk about drugs you have to include alcohol, which is as much of a drug as the illegal ones.

        • Terrymac

          Of course it should concern any civilised person, but concern is one thing, criminalising people who are not criminals for their own personal and private habits, is quite another! For one thing, it doesn’t work in reducing demand or supply, quite the reverse in fact! Criminalising drug use just makes the situation far worse than it would be otherwise.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            I’m not proposing to criminalise anyone; drug possession is already a crime for which I’m arguing for sanctions to be enforced (which they currently are not). Singapore, Japan and Sweden show that criminalising drug use does lead to lower rates of use if one is prepared to effectively enforce the law.

      • Mr B J Mann

        What’s your thoughts on carrying knives on the streets?

        Are you for or agin locking up “knife criminals”?!?!

        Like your grandpa with a locking pocket knife cos, what with his arthriticy fingers he’s not that clever at opening a non locking one.

        And, anyway, he’s not too keen on his fingers suffering any more problems due to a non-locking pruning knife folding on them.

        Or how about your sainted aunt with her antique folding fruit knife?

        With an “illegal” length blade??!?!?!

    • matt

      In the UK yes things are better. In the US, it’s still quite draconian. Of course if it’s wrong to arrest someone for buying X why it is okay to arrest someone for selling X?

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        I think your second X is meant to be a Y. The answer is because X has already been in large scale use for generations and is culturally embedded, whereas Y is not so practicality necessitated different solutions for dealing with them.
        On Mill, his statement was made before we had a welfare state where the consequences of individual action are picked up by society. Indeed, his statement could be read out of context as arguing that there is no such things as society, just individuals. If you want to legalise a new medicine or foodstuff for sale in this country, you have to show it is safe – seems a sensible principle.

        • matt

          Alright ironic love me i am liberal but here’s the problem: by the logic you’ve laid out you you commit yourself to endorsing endless restrictions on freedom because of the existence of the welfare state. Paternalist leftists here in the US endorse all sorts of restrictions on our diets because ‘I have to pay for it.’ Well the sensible answer here is to end the government’s role in paying for bad choices and outlawing the bad (in your view) choices.

          No question alcohol consumption is more culturally embedded but there are still a lot of people who want to smoke pot, snort coke, and the like and our efforts to suppress this have not worked. Any conservative worth his salt should know the state cannot repeal the laws of supply and demand.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            I do not commit myself to your logic. It’s possible to impose restraints on the use of certain drugs without giving the state totalitarian powers. I’m committing to automatic financial penalties for possession of illegal drugs thereby reducing disposable income available for drug use.
            One cannot repeal the laws of supply and demand but one can reduce demand by creating consequences for it. Sweden and Japan have done it.

          • matt

            I didn’t say anything about totalitarianism. Rather, I said that if the existence of the welfare state is your argument here (you submitted that I was not really an individual matter given that the welfare state imposes costs on all of us) then what argument can you possibly offer against a whole range of bans? Your argument is especially problematic when one considers that ordinary harmful behaviors (excessive eating, drinking, and consumption of nicotine coupled with a sedentary lifestyle) impose far greater costs on society through the welfare state than the use of hard drugs. So you either commit yourself to the idea that the welfare state justifies a whole range of interventions or have to come with some sort of argument for why drug use is somehow special. You haven’t done so and it would be quite difficult to do so given that the costs of hard drug use cannot plausibly be claimed to exceed or even be in the same neighborhood as the costs of pedestrian ‘bad’ decisions such as eating junk food and never exercising.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            We already have a whole range of interventions, whether it is bans, taxes or education programmes and most people are comfortable with that. Of course, state interventions can become bureaucratic monsters that achieve little and cost much but that’s life – it’s complicated. Different circumstances warrant different measures. You have some drugs that are not that widely used at present; you have the option to legalise or to prosecute personal use and commercial exploitation, options that are impractical for substances that are already legal. The aim of all these measures is to minimise the harm these substances do, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use all of them for all substances.

          • matt

            You’re conflating here. Education is not the same thing as a ban or a tax. But leave that aside, really. Your central argument was that the existence of the welfare state justified restrictions on drug use because the harms of drug use imposed costs on others through the welfare state. I then pointed out that a number of legal substances cause far greater harm than all hard drug use put together. Your only response is that banning those things would be ‘impractical.’ I could respond by saying that a drug war that spreads death, disease, and corruption all around the world and empowers murderous gangs and terrorists is rather ‘impractical’ but instead I’d just ask you this: we could impose huge taxes on junk food (which does far more harm than drug use) and subsidize exercise equipment. This might well reduce the considerable harm caused by bad food and a sedentary lifestyle. Do you support such an approach?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Back to the start of the thread for you – there is no ‘war on drugs’, it’s just a slogan used by politicians to sound tough. One could argue that Singapore has a war on drugs, but issuing Cannabis Warning Notices to those found in possession of pot is certainly not an act of war. I’ve set out what I propose.
            A society cannot function well unless its citizen exercise self control (see Edmund Burke). The state can encourage good behaviour but not enforce it without taking upon itself powers that undermine the very liberties it purports to defend. Governing is difficult, it’s not about taking a simplistic principle and then applying it without thought to the consequences.
            Taxing junk food is no different in principle that taxing petrol, alcohol or cigarettes (defining ‘junk’ may prove more difficult than most might expect). Subsidising exercise equipment is probably pointless as one doesn’t need a gym subscription to stay fit and healthy.

          • matt

            There’s no question that the war on drugs is not comparable to, say, the war against al-Qaeda where we kill people from the sky with drones for buying or selling drugs. The government is not being quite that aggressive. But make no mistake: people can and do go to jail for simple possession, find themselves with a criminal record, and find themselves ineligible for a series of opportunities others enjoy because they got caught with pot. There also countless cases of civil liberties being completely thrown out the window. On the selling side, the government can and does imprison people for decades and indeed for life for selling drugs, even if the drug is marijuana and the quantity is small. It pours billions into efforts to fight traffickers all over the world. This is not WW2 but nor it is it some half-hearted effort with no teeth.
            Drug use is not inconsistent with self-control. You’d be amazed by how many lawyers, doctors, and Wall Street finance wizards smoke pot and do other, even harder drugs.
            Burkeans have their principles too. They just happen to be different from libertarian principles but rather than argue on the basis of principle, Burkeans pretend they are non-ideological and guided by ‘experience.’
            ‘No different in principle indeed.’ So you acknowledge, then, that if repressive measures dramatically reduced the harms associated with a sedentary lifestyle and a bad diet by dramatically reducing the behaviors which spawned those harms in the first place you would be for them?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Not sure if you’re writing from a US or UK perspective but in the UK, people do not go to prison for simple possession; magistrates are instructed not to send them to prison. I’m delighted that drug dealers are imprisoned; if they don’t want to go to prison they should stop selling them.
            Drug use is inconsistent with self control for as long as that drug exercises its mind changing properties (which varies by drug). This is still badly understood for illegal drugs because their relatively low use and illegal status make it difficult to track accurately their long term effect. For example, it is only in recent years that cannabis’s detrimental impact on IQ has been identified.
            I was saying that I would be reluctant to use repressive measures to tackle lifestyles and bad diet because such powers nearly always are abused by the state. But that’s not the same thing as slapping an automatic fine on anyone caught with no matter how small an amount of an illegal drug.

          • matt

            I should have clarified that. I am writing from a US perspective on that.
            I know you’re delighted. I wasn’t arguing that it was bad there. My point was merely that the war on drugs is a serious effort and not the half-hearted no real teeth initiative you have depicted it as.

            You don’t think the war on drugs has resulted in abuse by the state?
            We have been talking about illegal drugs as a monolithic category but of course they vary. So let me ask you this: even a lot of drug warriors agree that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. The science overwhelmingly shows this to be true, although it would false to state there are no adverse effects, especially on young users (of course all the evidence we have available shows us that the drug war, if anything, leads to higher use among teens). So why not legalize marijuana?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            As I’ve stated I don’t think there has been a ‘war’ on drugs.
            Accurate comparisons between alcohol and cannabis are not possible as we know much about the former through long term studies and relatively little about the latter. As no one is proposing to substitute cannabis for alcohol, the presumptions preceding your question are false. Marijuana does not provable good and much provable harm. As it cannot be shown to be safe, it should not be made more widely available, which is what would happen were it legalised.

          • matt

            I just find that puzzling. The US military works with other military’s and police agencies all around the world to target drug trafficking. It locks up people for decades for selling drugs. It conducts massive undercover investigations to find drug dealers. There are regular shoot outs around the world. How is this not a war?

            No ‘provable good’? You can’t be serious. Talk to a cancer patient or a guy who enjoys a joint after a long day.

            Would you say it does more harm than alcohol?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            The ‘war’ is against traffickers but users are largely ignored. There’s still point trying to suppress supply if you’re not going to discourage demand.
            There is no provable good, and by proof I mean the sort of medical trials that all reputable medicines have to pass (as conducted by the FDA in the US). I never cease to be amazed at how cannabis supporter exempt it from the tests all other medical claims have to undergo.
            Alcohol is more widely used than cannabis and its effects more fully recorded so official stats will show it does more harm. But whether alcohol is more toxic than cannabis is debatable, given the limited evidence on long term use of cannabis. You’re asking the wrong question; the right question is is cannabis safe to physical and mental health?

          • matt

            I’m a little unsure of your position. I’ve heard you endorse nothing beyond fines for users. Surely you don’t think that would be a huge disincentive? So you must support prison time?

            We’ll just disagree on the latter question.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            My position on possession and use of cannabis is clear: automatic fines. This would in practice by considerably tougher than what happens now in the UK. My template is Sweden, whose approach to drugs users is ‘disturb and annoy’.

          • matt

            It’s really pretty confused. You say we don’t actually have a war on drugs. I say “Well you know we spend billions on military and police to fight drug traffickers and lock them up for decades.” Then you go “Yes but we do so little on the user side of things.” Okay fair enough but your suggestion on the user side is automatic fines. That seems pretty mild. If drugs are really so wicked and an actual drug war so good why not have mandatory minimum jail sentences of, say, five years? Surely that would have a huge deterrent effect no?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            You have to start from where you are, which is that simple possession of illegal drugs (certainly in the UK) carries no penalty, notwithstanding the punishment prescribed by the law.

          • matt

            Okay fair point but if you had your druthers would you impose sentences along the lines I laid out for possession?

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            Sweden imposes prison sentences of up to 6 months for possession. For persistent possession, yes I would. For someone like Peter Doherty, lead singer of the Babyshambles, who had a wrap of heroin fall out of his jacket when leaving court where he was up before the beak for possessing other drugs, I’d lock him up.

          • matt

            I’m a little busy this weekend but I stumbled upon by this essay by libertarian philosopher Michael Huemer. You seem to be interested in the core questions so you should appreciate it and find yourself challenged and, maybe just maybe, persuaded a little. http://www.owl232.net/drugs.htm

        • matt

          sorry that should read instead of outlawing

  • sidor

    The war on drugs in Singapore and Malaysia is very effective. Hanging traffickers works. They are not Islamic fanatics and are not ready to die: they commit their crimes in order to live nicely on the money they earn by killing other people. Therefore the death penalty is a very efficient way to stop the drug trafficking.

    • Clever Jake

      Your blood lust is quite disturbing. You equate the murdering regimes in Singapore and Malaysia who are operating under the guise of religious zealots as a decent way to try and control/re-educate their populace. ISIS has the same policy of control/re-educating people that you fully approve of, by keeping their populace in a constant state of fear with their murderous regime. This is exactly the same policy used in Singapore and Malaysia, where you do as they say or we will kill anyone who does not conform to our disgusting policies. Your logic is fatuous and utterly depraved.

      • sidor

        Until 1967 hanging was a standard punishment for murder in the UK system of law. Would you equate it too with ISIS?

        • Terrymac

          Yeah!! Bring back hanging!! Let’s all run back to the good old Dark Ages! ISIS are showing the way!

          • sidor

            Do you think Britain in 1967 was in Dark Ages? The number of murders increased by 200% since then.

          • Zalacain

            Crime is a lot lower in Europe than in the USA, although in states such as Texas, the death penalty still exists.

          • sidor

            There is no death penalty in the US. There were about 15000 murders there last year, and only 38 executions. It will start working when the probability to be hanged for murder exceeds 50%, like in Singapore, which has the world lowest crime rate.

          • Terrymac

            I think you’ll find there actually is the death penalty in at least 31 States the US.

          • Terrymac

            Hanging was abolished in 1965 in the UK not 1967. If you think we should hang people for drug use then it would be a run back to the uncivilised Dark Ages! Whenever you take that to be.

        • Clever Jake

          Do you equate murder with peaceful drug use?
          Hanging people is not a deterrent for anyone who is willing to take another persons life. Do you simply think that psychopaths or any other deranged miscreant will ponder like one of the worlds foremost philosophers, that they would not kill in case they are caught and hanged. Any form of violence is abhorrent. Whether it is a criminal or any government agent, makes no difference.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Singapore; Disneyland with the death penalty. What’s not to like?

        • Abie Vee

          All four.

      • Zhang Wei

        Have you seen the methods traffickers employ in order to maintain control of their dubious trade?

        • Clever Jake

          Prohibition creates crime that would never exist and the only people to benefit are criminals and corrupt politicians who subjugate their scared citizens with fear and loathing. The US brought in alcohol prohibition that resulted in a rise of use from 5% to 35%. Before prohibition the US was similar to the UK where it was quaint with hardly any crime at all. Prohibition resulted in very serious ruthless organised crime becoming widespread with the likes of
          Al Capone.

          Our gangland culture owes everything to these idiotic
          misplaced corrupt prohibition laws, that result in a perpetual state of corrupt law and disorder. The US has some of the most draconian drug laws along with spending over a trillion dollars. They have some of the highest rates of drug use in the world along with the largest prison population per capita, where 49% of the prisoners are non violent drug users.

          • Terrymac

            The “War On Drugs” was started deliberately to manufacture a black economy that certain corrupt governmental agencies could utilise. The profits made in policing this phoney “War” are the main reason it’s gone on for so long, and the main reason it still continues. If you look at the situation rationally, from the perspective of the ordinary citizen, it’s totally insane!

    • Terrymac

      Yes! You’re right! So why don’t we bring in the death penelty for traffic offences..or smoking? That would be very efficient at stopping those crimes too!
      What do you think?

      • sidor

        Corporal punishment for traffic offences would do. Quite persuasive.

        • Terrymac

          Hmm..being a cyclist myself I’m almost inclined to agree with you!

    • Infidelissima

      I’m sorry but I’d rather not live in a country that could hang people for smoking a spliff!

    • matt

      Putting aside the savage immorality of murdering people for selling a product to a willing buyer, it hasn’t worked. The drug trade is going strong all around the world.

  • Gilbert White

    They will never completely eradicate the murder of people from society as well.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Legalise drugs. That’s all drugs. Introduce quality control, health warnings, advertising (not sure about that). Benefits: Reduce crime, put the dealers out of business. Cull the weak-minded from society.
    What’s not to like?
    Jack “You’re all Heart” the Japan Alps Brit

    • Too Old To Actually Join UKIP

      Only an idiot (or a drug addict) would call for the legalisation of Heroin.

      • Terrymac

        Only and idiot would continue with the tried and utterly failed “War On Drugs” that has only accelerated drug abuse in the West.
        Didn’t you read the above article?
        And exactly what difference would legalisation of heroin mean? After all it’s available everywhere in the country for the asking! And it wasn’t like that in the 1980’s!
        Isn’t that interesting…I wonder why that was?

        • Too Old To Actually Join UKIP

          The article is only the author’s personal opinions, not incontrovertible facts. I have mine.

          I was forced to live with 5 different Heroin addicts in my shared rented terraced house for about 2 years. The idea that legalisation would somehow had meant that the druggies no longer had to resort to thieving and burgling is absurd (unless you are also proposing that free Heroin is also to be available on prescription on the NHS!)

          • cartimandua

            It would then be undercut by criminals from all over the world.

          • Too Old To Actually Join UKIP

            Legalise anything but Heroin (and raw opium, and Methadone), that is what I would say! Those three drugs are far too socially destructive to be safely decriminalised!

          • Terrymac

            This is utter nonsense. By handing the control of ANY drugs (which, after all, are being sold to a willing buyer) to criminal gangs all you are doing is funding the perpetration of even MORE crime! And how would decriminalisation make the current situation even more destructive? ANYONE can buy any drugs they want for the asking these days! So it’s not as if decriminalisation would make them more available..they’re ALREADY available!

          • Too Old To Actually Join UKIP

            Legalisation of Heroin (or similar Opiates and Opoids) would not reduce crime, because the people (a much greater number) who would then need Heroin (because it has been legalised) would still mostly be unemployed (and usually unemployable), as they currently are, with no means of their own to pay for them. They would still have to commit all sorts of crime regularly in order to pay for the substance.

          • matt

            I know folks who had to live with alcoholic and suffered immensely. Bad personal experiences, as much as they rightly invite our sympathy, do not constitute an argument for prohibition.

            Heroin is certainly more dangerous than alcohol or marijuana, although its deleterious effects, including its degree of addictiveness, are routinely exaggerated. Keeping it illegal, however, is far, far worse because it empowers murderous thugs all over the world, ensures systematic civil liberties abuses, and produces mass incarceration.

          • Too Old To Actually Join UKIP

            Your libertarian or anarcho-libertarian argument for full legalisation does not really answer the question, of what would happen when a person, who is physically addicted to Heroin, but has no money of his own to purchase the said legalised substance lawfully. Should the State step in and pay for those (now legalised) Heroin and disturb them for free, to those who cannot afford them?

            As a matter of fact, I have also lived with alcoholics, and your argument falls in a sense because most alcoholics are not physically addicted to alcohol per se, unlike Heroin—the addiction is mainly psychological.

          • matt

            Libertarian yes but an-cap no just to make where I’m coming from clear.

            I reject your claims about the nature of heroin addiction and it’s funny because you know who agrees with me? Big time drug warrior Theodore Dalrymple who wrote in the Spectator that:

            “The evidence is pretty conclusive that the great majority, though not quite all, of the suffering caused by withdrawal from opiates, insofar as it is real and not feigned, is psychological in origin and caused by the mythology surrounding it. In the 1930s, experiments were done demonstrating that morphine addicts could not reliably distinguish between injections of water and morphine: when they received water thinking it was morphine, their symptoms abated, but when they received morphine thinking it was water, they grew worse.

            It has also been established that the distress of withdrawal is not correlated with the physical severity of withdrawal symptoms, and is often at its worst before, not during, withdrawal.”

          • Terrymac

            In the short term it wouldn’t stop those people committing crimes but in the long term it’s the only way to counter the criminals, to take away their source of income! Treating addicts as a medical problem rather than a criminal one is the only way forward for a civilised society.

      • Zhang Wei

        Or someone whose never seen the devastating impact it has on communities

    • Zalacain

      And improve the economy.

  • Hugo Gufradump

    Much harder sentences for the hard,killer drugs like Crack,Heroin,Meth and Cocaine etc but legalise the soft drug like Cannabis,regulate and TAX it,billions could be made. The results from the US states that legalised over a year ago like Denver are positive,lots of extra TAX money and crime is down,and it didn’t lead to an increase in anti social behaviour.

    • oldoddjobs

      How many people die from cocaine use in this country? You don’t know. But it’s a “killer drug”. Oooh! Scary killer drugs!

  • cartimandua

    1 in 4 new cases of psychosis (which can be permanent) are down to Cannabis.
    Legalizing would only create low risk environments for all criminal gangs from all over the world.

    • oldoddjobs

      Source? There isn’t one, is there?

    • Zalacain

      How many people die a year due to alcohol? Should we make that illegal?

      • Mary Ann

        The Americans tried it, it didn’t work.

        • Zalacain

          Maybe read a couple of my other comments below?

  • Dogsnob

    In the UK at least, there is no war on drugs.
    The government needs the sink estates of the nation to be constantly topped-up with affordable skunk. That’s why young entrepreneurs drive fleets of weekly-changed hire cars, given pretty much free access to their clients.

  • James

    Marijuana is legal for medical purpose in America and legal generally in parts of Europe. The government chief scientist said it should be legal along with the countries to scientists.
    Problem being all the lords and peers have shares and investments in pharma companies that produce similar drug effects through synthetics, more harmful but more profitable when forced on mentally ill adults.

  • JonBW

    Illegal drug use is in decline in this country, especially amogst the young.

    The myth that our drug laws don’t work is constantly recycled by liberals but really doesn’t stand up to proper examination.

    • oldoddjobs

      If someone is sitting in a cage for consuming a plant, then the drug laws don’t work.

  • Shorne

    In 2001 Portugal decided to decriminalised the possession of all drugs for personal use.If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroin, he or she is sent to a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, typically made up of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker. The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine; otherwise, the person is sent off without any penalty. A vast majority of the time, there is no penalty.Levels of drug use in Portugal are are below the European average. Drug use has declined among those aged 15-24, the population most at risk of initiating drug use.The proportion of drug-related offenders (defined as those who committed offences under the influence of drugs and/or to fund drug consumption) in the Portuguese prison population also declined, from 44% in 1999, to just under 21% in 2012. Deaths due to drug use have decreased significantly. Not perfect but miles better than any ‘War on Drugs’ approach.

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