Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2002
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2002
Author: J G Wishart


The idea put forward (Opinion, 9 January) regarding the provision of 
cannabis cafes is not the answer. If the illegality of drug abuse is 
likened to the prohibition of alcohol in the United States, what is being 
advocated is akin to the legalisation of beer, but not wines and spirits.

We need to discuss and to analyse fully the pros and cons of the complete 
decriminalisation of all drug abuse.

Crime is now more of a problem than hitherto. Proposed solutions of more 
police and heavier punishments have not come about, or have not worked.

Recent weeks and months have seen many reports of violent deaths and 
robberies, most of which were committed by addicts raising money to buy 
drugs at inflated prices from non-tax-paying criminals. The fear of 
becoming a victim of crime is now more intrusive than before and is 
becoming a major political issue.

Anecdotal evidence suggests more than 50 per cent of all re-ported crime is 
drug-related. When an addict requires up to UKP400 a day to provide for a 
habit, this is understandable.

The present policy of prohibiting recreational abuse of drugs has failed. 
More people abuse drugs each year, and the police and Customs and Excise 
have been unable to reverse this trend, despite well-publicised anti-drug 
campaigns and severe legal sanctions.

Is it not time that most drugs are decriminalised and are made commercially 
available, but with tax imposed, like tobacco?

Few addicts would need to steal to buy drugs. This should reduce the number 
of violent and other crimes and improve the perception of public safety. 
The drug barons would be put out of business, removing many of the causes 
of violent crime.

If we carry on as we are, yet more people will die violently, more will die 
from inadvertent overdosing, and many more lives will be needlessly 
impoverished, materially and spiritually.

JG WISHART, Milton of Balgonie Fife
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