Pubdate: Sun, 21 Aug 2005
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Liam Clarke
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Mo Mowlam's unerring ability to cause controversy has survived her.
The Northern Ireland secretary and cabinet enforcer has left behind a
book, to be published next year, in which she advocates the
legalisation of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

Such a legacy from a government minister, once given responsibility
for the international war on drugs, may provide Tony Blair with a
rueful reminder of the controversy she sparked with her admission
while in office that she had smoked cannabis at university.

Mowlam had been working on the manuscript for much of this year with
Jon Norton, her husband, and had almost finished it. Last Thursday,
the day before her death, Norton told their publisher, Polity, that he
will complete it by the end of the year.

"We are very proud to publish this important book. I am delighted Jon
has decided he does want to finish it," said Louise Knight, Polity's
editorial director. She said the working title of the book was
Legalise Drugs and added: "They are putting forward an argument for
regulation, not just for a free-for-all. It is based on Mo's extensive

Before her death, Mowlam had floated the idea of legalising drugs at a
series of informal speaking engagements entitled Audiences with Mo
Mowlam. She became convinced that it could be a popular idea if
properly presented.

She attracted controversy when she confessed to smoking cannabis while
working as a social anthropology student at Durham University in the
late 1960s. "I tried marijuana, didn't like it particularly and,
unlike President Clinton, I did inhale," she said. "But it wasn't part
of my life."

She later argued for the sale of cannabis to be taxed and regulated in
the same way as alcohol and tobacco. A central part of her case was
that the tax on the sale of drugs should be ring-fenced to fund
addiction and health projects.

Mowlam formed her view that addictive drugs should be sold at
regulated outlets as a result of her experience as a minister in the
Cabinet Office between 1999 and 2001. At the time she publicly
encouraged such solutions as the growing of alternative crops by "drug

However, on leaving office she became convinced that a more radical
approach was needed and advocated that legalising narcotics was the
most practical means of destroying the illegal market.

She wrote in 2002 that "the illegal drugs trade is now the third
largest industry in the world. It is worth well in excess of $500
billion a year. The people running the industry have vast financial
resources at their disposal, which virtually no government can stand
up to".

Her book is also expected to be highly critical of the American-led
war against drugs and of George W Bush's policies on the issue.

Her posthumous strike at Anglo-American drugs policy is likely to sit
uncomfortably with Blair, who broke off his Caribbean holiday to
praise her as "one of the shrewdest political minds I ever
encountered" and "a natural politician, could read a situation and
analyse and assess it as fast as anyone".

Blair is not expected to attend Mowlam's funeral, which is described
as private, but he will be going to a more public memorial service
later this year.

In Northern Ireland, where Mowlam is credited with helping to put
together the Good Friday peace agreement, there are calls for a
permanent tribute. Among possible memorials being discussed are a park
in the grounds of Stormont, a cancer ward in a hospital or a
religiously integrated school.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin