Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jul 1998
Date: 07/28/1998
Source: Irish Independent (UK)
Author: Martin Cooke


As reports come in that the country's problem with heroin and other
dangerous drugs is beginning to be felt in provincial towns and rural
villages ('Shooting up in rural Ireland', "Focus"), one must wonder
just what can be done to stop our young people from starting to use
these dangerous substances.

Earlier this month in the United States, the Office of National Drug
Control Policy announced a $2 billion anti-drug media campaign. At the
ceremony heralding its launch in Atlanta, President Clinton told
students, "These ads are designed to knock America upside its head and
get America's attention."

Meanwhile in Britain, the Home Office spend on anti-drug education has
just been increased by UKP188 million in a much-trumpeted strategy to
educate schoolchildren as young as five years of age on the dangers of

Whilst such strategies may make parents feel that at least their
governments are doing something to tackle the problem, they are likely
to cause more harm than good in the long run, if only because of the
natural tendency of young people to ignore or even actively oppose the
threats and moralising of their parents' generation.

But the very fact that we should even need to consider committing such
vast sums of public money raises a larger and far more important
question: Just why are these dangerous substances so far outside the
control of responsible society that we cannot keep them out of the
hands of our children?

The answer is that drug prohibition has failed our children, and
failed them spectacularly. Drug prohibition, far from being a form of
drug control, is nothing more than the surrendering of the control of
these dangerous and addictive substances into the hands of criminals.
These so-called "Controlled Substances" are, in reality, completely
outside any form of control whatsoever.

The whole root of the problem lies in the very fact that these drugs
are illegal in the first place. This very illegality gives them a
value far above their true cost. Indeed they have become so valuable
that, as we have seen in Ireland time and time again over the past
twenty years or so, all attempts to incarcerate the criminals involved
in their distribution only result in other greedy individuals stepping
in to fill the void that is created.

Prohibitionists often speak of the 'horrifying' prospect of
legalisation, including "heroin being sold in the corner shop to
children with false identities". But when was the last time that a
child in this country, attempting to buy heroin, was asked for
identification, false or otherwise, under the present system? Indeed
children are advantageous customers to the pushers, as they are very
unlikely to be either undercover gardai or informers. Prohibition does
not work. Prohibition never has worked. Prohibition never will work.
And until the world wakes up to this fact we will continue to see the
lives of more and more of our children destroyed by its effects.

Martin Cooke