Pubdate: 02 Oct, 1999
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group 1999
Section: Saturday Review
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 

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 

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

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