Pubdate: Fri, 13 August 1999
Source: Irish Times (Ireland)
Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times
Contact:  Letters to Editor, The Irish Times, 11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Author: Gerry Moore


Sir, - Our existing drugs policy can neither compel those who use drugs to
stop, nor prevent the spread of drug use. I can see no way in which users
can be compelled to stop, but it does seem possible to end or at least
severely curtail the spread of this habit.

The policy change required is for the State to take over the provision of
drugs to verified existing users in a manner which convinces them that they
have a secure and inexpensive supply. The immediate effect would be to
eliminate the drug traffickers' market. To continue in business they would
have two options: to diversify their product or to seek new customers.

With regard to new product, this can be countered simply by making it known
that the State will expand its provision to match developments in drug use.
Preventing the recruitment of new customers calls for a range of measures.
Firstly there is a need to provide for severe, mandatory custodial sentences
for the unauthorised use of narcotics and even more severe mandatory
sentences for their supply. Sentences must be mandatory for the simple
reason that our judiciary have, time after time, proved themselves
unreliable, even negligent in the defence of the society that pays them.

Secondly, we need to openly construct a system which encourages treachery
and betrayal. New users would be given the option of avoiding prosecution
and obtaining supplies from State sources provided they voluntarily came
forward for registration and furnished adequate information on their
suppliers. Those convicted of illegally using narcotics should have a clear
option to reduce their sentences provided they co-operate in the prosecution
of their supplier, including giving evidence in court. Likewise, suppliers
could reduce their sentences by co-operating in the conviction of those who
supply them.

I am convinced that with, vigorous policing and pitiless judicial processes
coupled with the prospect of a poor financial reward, the traffickers can be
put out of business. Of course there will be some unauthorised leakage from
the official system and I can see various other difficulties that must be
overcome, not least the attitude of some other countries. However, if we can
succeed in virtually halting the spread of the drugs habit, it's worth the
effort and success will eliminate opposition. I am conscious that some of
what I propose runs counter to cherished legal principles. I can only say:
Who cares?

Yours, etc., 

Gerry Moore, Donegal Cottage, Cobh, Co Cork.

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