Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Author: James Slack
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


In 1998, Tony Blair promised an unrelenting 'war' on the scourge of 
drug abuse. Today that policy lies in ruins, with more people than 
ever using cocaine, and Class A drug taking in general up by 37 per 
cent in little over a decade.

One key factors is the dramatic fall in the price of drugs. The Home 
Office's own figures show cocaine is being sold for as little as 
UKP20 a gram in some areas, while the most common price is UKP40 per gram.

In 1998 the average price was UKP77. It means a line of cocaine can 
now cost as little as UKP1 - an attractive alternative to a UKP3 pint 
of lager for a young person on a Friday or Saturday night. Readily 
available: It's not uncommon to find lines of cocaine at a party, as 
prices for the Class A drug drop to as little as UKP20 a gram

The purity of cocaine may have fallen - the drug is now increasingly 
bulked out with a hazardous cocktail of chemicals - but this has not 
made it less appealing.

Some experts believe the fall in purity has simply led to users 
taking more to chase the same 'high'.

As well as purity, price is also linked to availability - the more of 
the drug that makes it into the UK undetected, the less it costs.

According to a recent report by the Centre for Policy Studies, the 
quantities of heroin, cocaine and cannabis being seized coming into 
the UK have fallen by 68 per cent, 16 per cent and 34 per cent 
respectively over the last seven years.

The UK drugs market is estimated to be worth UKP5billion a year but 
the Government spends just UKP380million a year targeting the supply. 
There are only five boats to patrol the UK's 7,750-mile coastline, 
the report said.

In contrast, more than UKP800million is spent on treatment programmes 
and reducing drug-related crime.

Some say this is a symptom of a wider problem - a political decision 
by the Government to concentrate on 'reducing harm' among addicts 
rather than targeting illegal use and supply.

For example, instead of seeking to force heroin addicts to quit, 
there has been a threefold increase in spending on methadone 
treatment, with 147,000 users 'entrapped in state-sponsored 
addiction', according to the CPS.

Meanwhile, downgrading cannabis from Class B to C in 2004 - a 
decision Labour later reversed - sent out a message that the drug was 
relatively harmless, despite evidence that it is a gateway to harder 
substances, such as cocaine.

Of course, the Home Office clings to the fact that, when Class B and 
C drugs are included, overall drug misuse is down. In these terms, 
the war on drugs is a success, ministers say.

But, by definition, it is Class A drugs which are considered the most 
harmful, both to the user and society in general. On this measure, Mr 
Blair's war on drug is unequivocally lost. His political epitaph is a 
country now considered the cocaine capital of Europe.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom