Pubdate: Sat, 02 Oct 1999
Date: 10/02/1999
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Author: Danny Kushlick, Drug law reform campaigner
Note: Mr. Kushlick is Director of Transform: The Campaign for an Effective
Drug Policy
Note: headline by MAP
Related: Transform has a website at

Dear Peter,

Tony Blair's call for mandatory drug testing for people arrested for
criminal offences is little more than cynical rhetoric aimed at
pandering to the law-and-order lobby. This is policy formation on the
hoof: there has been no consultation with practitioners or government
departmental specialists to assess the effectiveness or repercussions
of pursuing this initiative.

Of course there is a clear link between illegal drug use and
acquisitive crime. But the under-lying reason for this is the high
price of illegal drugs on the unregulated market. Let's not forget
that there is little if any property crime associated with tobacco
addiction. Why? Purely because the price is low.

Suddenly the talk is of a "war on drugs". Why no "war on alcohol", by
far the most important precursor to violent offending? Or a war on
tobacco, by far the biggest killer?

It seems as if Tony Blair is marking his political territory like a
tom cat. Apart from causing a stink, this will do nothing to address
the underlying reasons for drug misuse that he claims others have
ducked for so long.

What problematic illegal drug users need and want is access to
effective treatment options before their offending even begins. This
latest initiative flies in the face of more progressive measures that
this government has been instrumental in developing up to now.

Yours sincerely,
Danny Kushlick
Director, Transform: The Campaign for an Effective Drug Policy