Firm Says Drug Reduced Seizures in Children With Dravet Syndrome by 39 Per Cent
From page 2 A British company that has been working for 18 years to
find medicinal uses for marijuana has had a major breakthrough in the
treatment of childhood epilepsy.
Yesterday GW Pharmaceuticals, which has a licence from the Home
Office to grow cannabis, announced final-stage tests on 120 children
with Dravet syndrome (a type of epilepsy) had successfully reduced
seizures by 39 per cent. The phase 3 trial of the drug known as
Epidiolex has been extremely closely watched in the medical
community, due to the current absence of a cure for the painful and
dangerous condition. Currently, Dravet sufferers have to take a
cocktail of medicines but still suffer an average of 13 seizures a month.
[continues 408 words]
SIR - It is disturbing to hear that delegates at the Liberal Democrat
conference have called for the legalisation of cannabis (report,
telegraph.co.uk, March 12).
This decision indicates a lack of research on their part as well as
an ignorance of the connection between cannabis and mental health
disorders. Those working in this field are aware that cannabis can
trigger the onset of schizophrenia, particularly in the young. It can
also seriously reduce the efficacy of the medication that is
prescribed to alleviate the distressing symptoms of this condition.
A petition launched by the former Solidarity MSP seeks to legalise
what he calls the "non-criminal action" of using cannabis, instead
directing the money raised from taxing the drug into drug treatment programmes.
Only 98 people have so far signed his petition on change. org since Saturday.
The petition, called "Legalise, regulate, license and tax cannabis.
Drop the stupid 'war' on drugs. Wise up", is directed at the UK Parliament.
[continues 62 words]
Lib Dems' Conference Decision Is a Totemic Policy That Would Also
Raise Ukp 1bn Tax, Says MP Norman Lamb
The Liberal Democrats have become the first major party to support
the legalisation of cannabis, a move, they argue, that will reduce
drug- related crime and raise around UKP 1bn in tax revenue.
The policy was overwhelmingly approved by delegates at the Lib Dems'
spring conference in York yesterday.
It follows a review of soft drugs set up by the former health
minister Norman Lamb, one of the eight MPs who survived the party's
general- election rout last year, and chaired by Steve Rolles, a
senior policy analyst from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation.
[continues 713 words]
LIB DEMS yesterday overwhelmingly backed the legalisation of cannabis.
Just a handful of members at their spring conference in York opposed
Heal th spokesman Norman Lamb said: "It's long overdue that we call
time on the most discredited, most stupid, most dangerous so-called
'war on drugs'.
"I want this party to lead the way to a new approach, based on
evidence, which is liberal, and which protects public health."
Selling the drug in regulated shops and clubs could raise UKP1billion
tax, he said.
In a speech today Lib Dem leader Tim Farron vows to "fight this
Government's short-sighted cuts to school budgets" in a speech.
THE Liberal Democrats yesterday become the first mainstream political
party to call for the legalisation of cannabis.
In a landmark vote at the party's spring conference, delegates voted
in favour of licensing shops to sell cannabis in plain packaging and
with health warnings to adults in Britain.
Householders would also be allowed to cultivate marijuana and harvest
the drug for personal consumption. said the MP had offered advice at
last Thursday's meeting but was not planning a formal, paid
relationship with the Seattle-based Privateer Holdings.
[continues 165 words]
Last week, I had dinner with an American actor who was
enthusiastically extolling the benefits of state-controlled cannabis.
He was describing how, in places where it is legal, customers can go
into a shop and choose a product to give exactly the effect they want
to achieve, like with wine or fine Scotch. His personal aim was "to
feel mellow - and have great sex".
If legalising dope would make everyone in Britain just one per cent
more smiley and less hostile, can you think of a better reason to
bite the bullet and change the law? We are definitely going through
fearful times, guaranteed to increase our levels of anxiety. Turn on
the telly or radio and politicians on all sides compete to ramp up
the doom-laden consequences of leaving (or staying in) Europe.
Depending on who you listen to, we'll either be paying more for food
(or less), be out of work (or have more opportunities), and be
over-run with immigrants no wonder most people I meet can't make up
their minds which way they want to vote.
[continues 936 words]
LIBERAL Democrats say there's a case for setting up cannabis shops
allowing people to buy the drug in their local high street.
But how many people in the West Midlands take cannabis or other drugs
- - and is drug use rising or falling?
Here's what the official figures tell us about drug use in the West Midlands.
In the West Midlands, 6.9 per cent of the population aged 16 to 59
say they have taken cannabis at least once last year. That's about
one in 15 people. It's about the same as the national average.
[continues 791 words]
It is impossible to know how many people have been deterred from
using cannabis out of deference to the law. Decades of prohibition
have not prevented the drug from establishing itself as a part of the
repertoire of psychoactive substances that British people use for
leisure and, for a few, non-recreational medication. Despite the
theoretical threat of prosecution, cannabis use has become
sufficiently uncontroversial for stories about David Cameron dabbling
in his youth to have surfaced without measurable impact on his
standing as prime minister.
[continues 458 words]
LEGALISING THE sale of cannabis could raise UKP1bn a year in tax and
help minimise health risks, according to a report.
The study, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats and conducted by a
panel of scientists, academics and police chiefs, suggests that the
drug should be available in specialist shops to over-18s.
The party is expected to debate the issue at its spring conference in
York this weekend.
Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "Every year billions of
pounds are put into the pockets of organised criminals selling
cannabis and vast amounts of police time and resources are wasted
going after those using the drug."
[continues 163 words]
Legalising the sale of cannabis in specialist shops would generate
UKP1bn a year in tax revenue and reduce the harm done to users and
society, according to the most detailed plans ever drawn up for the
liberalisation of UK drug laws.
The study, which was carried out by a panel of experts including
scientists, academics and police chiefs, calls for the UK to follow
the lead of some US states and allow the sale of cannabis to over-18s
in licensed retail stores.
[continues 802 words]
Cannabis should be sold over the counter in plain packaging in
specialist, licensed shops to over-18s only, according to an expert
panel set up by the Liberal Democrats to examine what a regulated
cannabis market in Britain should look like.
They suggest cannabis should be sold in three strengths - lower,
medium and higher - in prescription medicine-style resealable
childproof containers with a health warning.
The panel also recommends that smallscale licensed "cannabis social
clubs" should be set up, and that home-grown cultivation of up to
four plants for personal use should be allowed.
[continues 346 words]
PEOPLE caught with drugs for personal use would be referred for
health treatment rather than sent to jail under proposals unveiled by
the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Leader Willie Rennie said Scotland's current drugs policy "is costly
and fails to work for everyone".
Drugs misuse costs society UKP3.5 billion a year amounting to around
UKP900 for every adult in Scotland, he said.
The LibDems will call for drug users to be "referred for treatment,
education or civil penalties, ending the use of i mpr i s on ment " ,
in a ma n i fe sto p ol ic y put forward for discussion at its
Scottish spring conference this week.
[continues 174 words]
Under Scottish LibDem proposals, possession of small amounts of
heroin for personal use would mean a police warning rather than a
HEROIN, cocaine and ecstasy users should face police warnings instead
of prison if found with small amounts of drugs for personal use, the
Scottish LibDems will argue this week. The party will use its spring
conference to advocate decriminalising drug use - as opposed to drug
dealing in a fundamental reform of how addiction is dealt with by
[continues 403 words]
IT'S time for Scotland to change its approach to drug abuse. The
current policy towards it is costly and fails to work for everyone.
Drugs misuse costs society UKP3.5 billion a year. That's around
UKP900 for every adult in Scotland. We're not winning the so-called
war on drugs and we have to consider the alternatives.
This week, at the Scottish Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference, our
manifesto commitment to promote a change in drug policy will be set
out. We are proposing a fundamental reform of the way drug users are
prosecuted and sentenced. Not drug dealers. We think it is right that
they can face up to life in prison. But we do not believe vulnerable
people struggling with addiction should be imprisoned simply for
possessing drugs for personal use.
[continues 568 words]
Parliament Should Allow Doctors to Prescribe Cannabis
Those responsible for the Government's drug policies could not be
accused of any exaggerated deference to the world of scientific
papers, double-blind trials and laboratory-bound research. The
Psychoactive Substances Bill - which outlaws anything likely to alter
a user's mindset - was described in the New Scientist as one of the
"stupidest, most dangerous and unscientific pieces of legislation
ever conceived". It demonstrates Parliament moving in the opposite
direction to the tonnage of evidence showing that draconian
approaches to recreational drug use have failed.
[continues 220 words]
A campaign to legalise the medical use of cannabis is launched today
amid warnings that up to 1.1 million people across Britain are
currently breaking the law by taking the drug to combat the pain of
The drive, which coincides with a Coronation Street storyline
focusing on the issue, is being supported by the former Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg and senior politicians from all parties.
Campaigners hope to attract hundreds of thousands of signatures for a
petition backing the move, with the aim of forcing a Commons debate
on legalising medicinal cannabis. They are pressing for ministers to
follow the lead of several Western European countries and US states
in allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to alleviate the painful
symptoms of disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and
[continues 435 words]
Billionaire warlords, who started as small-time weed smugglers, have
swathes of Latin America under their bloody rule, and the chaos is
creeping north. But, says IOAN GRILLO, they owe their power to
white-collar crooks from the States, who first set up their deadly networks
A chain of crime wars is currently strangling Latin America and the
Caribbean, drenching it in blood. And the first link in the chain is
found in the US. Specifically, in a Barnes and Noble bookshop in a
mall in El Paso, Texas.
[continues 2430 words]
A YOUNG man with an inoperable form of bone cancer, who was told he
only had a year left to live, claims cannabis oil has given him new hope.
Last August, 23-year-old George Blakemore from Torfaen was diagnosed
with Stage 2 Chondrosarcoma a rare form of bone cancer arising from
the left pubic ramus bone.
By October it had spread to his lungs and after undergoing one of the
strongest forms of chemotherapy, George was told surgery was no
longer an option and he may only have around a year left to live.
[continues 757 words]
Nick Clegg and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka Set Out Their
Vision Before a Forthcoming UN Summit
Standing on the podium at the United Nations in New York in June
1998, Kofi Annan declared: "It is time for all nations to say 'yes'
to the challenge of working towards a drug-free world!" The leaders
assembled at that meeting agreed: illegal drugs were to be eradicated
from the face of the planet. They even set a deadline: 10 years to
rid the globe of this scourge. A drug-free world by 2008.
[continues 979 words]
The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has admitted using the party drug
"poppers", while speaking out in parliament against proposed
legislation to ban legal highs.
The chair of parliament's foreign affairs select committee was
speaking during a debate on the government's psychoactive substances
bill, which seeks to outlaw certain legal recreational drugs. The
legislation would ban alkyl (or amyl) nitrate or "poppers" which
can be bought in shops.
"There are some times, Madam Deputy Speaker, when something is
proposed which becomes personal to you and you realise that the
government is about to do something fantastically stupid and I think
in those circumstances one has a duty to speak up," said Blunt, who
has been MP for Reigate since 1997.
[continues 112 words]
The UK taxpayer has given millions of pounds to help Pakistan's
counternarcotics force target and arrest drug traffickers, at least
five of whom have been sentenced to death.
The revelation has raised questions about the UK's commitment to
opposing the death penalty in other countries. Last year Sir Simon
McDonald, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, said that
human rights no longer had the profile within his department that
they had in the past.
The UK's UKP5.6m donation was made to Pakistan's anti-narcotics
force, through a five-year UN Office on Drugs and Crime project,
despite the fact that the Pakistan government insisted donors could
not demand that it be linked to human rights considerations.
[continues 266 words]
A CONSERVATIVE MP has revealed he uses amyl nitrate known by the
slang name "poppers" during a speech in the House of Commons and
criticised the Government's "manifestly stupid" plan to ban sale of the drug.
Crispin Blunt, who is gay, warned the proposals would force
homosexual men to deal with criminals if selling the drug was outlawed.
Poppers is a recreational drug popular in the gay community. In
Parliament, Mr Blunt said he was "astonished" at government plans.
During a debate about the Psychoactive Substances Bill, the former
minister said: "Sometimes when something is proposed which becomes
personal to you, you realise the Government is about to do something
"I use poppers, I out myself as a popper user and would be directly
affected by this legislation. I'm astonished to find it's proposing
to be banned and frankly so would I think many other gay men."
Roberto Saviano is determined to uncover capitalism's complicity with
the narcolords of South America, writes Ed Vulliamy
Pablo Escobar was "the first to understand that it's not the world of
cocaine that must orbit around the markets, but the markets that must
rotate around cocaine".
Of course, Escobar didn't put it that way: this heretical truth was
posited by Roberto Saviano in his latest book Zero Zero Zero , the
most important of the year and the most cogent ever written on how
narco-traffic works. It speaks what must be told at the end of
another year of drug war spreading further and deeper, that tells
what you will not learn from Narcos , Breaking Bad or the countless
[continues 1225 words]
MacAskill Wants Change
FORMER justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called on the SNP
Government to stop treating drug users as criminals.
MacAskill, who served for seven years under Alex Salmond, claimed the
war on drugs had failed across the world and said that police would
be better targeting criminal gangs instead of low-level users.
The Scottish Government rejected the call and Labour branded his
proposals "potentially dangerous".
MacAskill, justice secretary from 2007 to 2014, said the "winds of
change are blowing" across the world.
[continues 320 words]
Change in Approach to Petty Offending to Ensure Major Crimes Are the Priority
PEOPLE caught with small quantities of cannabis will face on-the-spot
warnings from police rather than prosecution.
The change in enforcing drug laws is part of a major overhaul of how
officers handle petty offending to free up the time of police and prosecutors.
Scottish officers will next month start issuing new "Recorded Police
Warnings" to many of the tens of thousands of people a year found
committing minor offences, such as carrying cannabis, urinating in
the street or petty shoplifting.
[continues 579 words]
AS officers know well, it is not for the police to shape laws on
drugs. There might be a ready audience for another debate over the
decriminalisation of cannabis, but that is not, strictly speaking,
the business of Police Scotland. Instead, the force is preparing to
ask important questions of its own.
Where petty offences are concerned, those could be summarised as
what, how and why? If the offence involves an individual caught in
possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal consumption,
what should an officer do? As things stand, the issue of "how"
follows, given the high chance of a report to the Crown Office
leading to no action.
[continues 398 words]
REGARDING the commentary by Howard Wooldridge, there is a middle
ground between drug prohibition and blanket legalisation (The lives
and trillions of dollars sacrificed on the altar of futile modern
prohibition, Comment, November 15). Switzerland's heroin maintenance
programme has been shown to reduce disease, death and crime by
providing addicts with standardised doses in a clinical setting. Its
success has inspired heroin maintenance pilot projects in Canada,
Germany, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Expanding prescription heroin maintenance would deprive organised
crime of a core client base. This would render illegal heroin
trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction.
Cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the
advertising. As long as criminals control cannabis distribution,
consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs. Cannabis
prohibition is a gateway drug policy.
Robert Sharpe, MPA Policy analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy
SINCE the official beginning of the drug war in 1971, the
law-enforcement community in the United States has spent just over $1
trillion. Tens of thousands of citizens have died, sacrificed on the
altar of this modern prohibition. Millions have suffered from a drug
arrest, which haunts them forever - and the difference on the
streets? Federal research shows drugs are cheaper, stronger and more
"readily available" to America's youth.
As a street cop and detective in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, I had a
ringside seat to this unfolding social disaster.
[continues 639 words]
Scotland's war on drugs amounts to a war on the poor, according one
of the country's leading authorities on substance abuse.
In a new paper, Dr Iain McPhee, from the University of the West of
Scotland's Centre for Alcohol and Drugs Studies, calls the Misuse of
Drugs Act 1971, "unjust, unfair and unworkable." McPhee was Project
Leader of the National Drugs Helpline and the National AIDS Helpline,
and has worked as a drugs specialist with social work and Scottish police.
[continues 1137 words]
I'D LIKE to commend the Sunday Herald on raising the need to debate
our current drugs legislation. It has been clear for a long time that
the so-called war on drugs is simply not working. Those at the top of
the supply chain go unpunished and get rich while the vulnerable are
criminalised for the violence and petty crime that surrounds the use
of illegal substances. It appeared from your reports that interested
parties who are in the know were not asking for immediate
decriminalisation. They were just asking for a debate to be opened up
in Scotland about the issue of decriminalisation. As was pointed out,
Scotland is a progressive country and there is nothing to fear from a
[continues 146 words]
IT SEEMS that there was a comma in the wrong place in Ian Bell's
excellent article. The prison industrial complex in the USA has now
provided more than two million customers for companies like the
Corrections Corporation of America. Over 900,000 are in jail for drug
related crimes, 10 times more than stated in the article. The
Scottish government's response to the new Irish policy was
predictably pathetic. A Celtic mouse?
Myles Cooney Cambuslang
TWO things puzzle me about Ian Bell's article in last weekend's
Sunday Herald (How to win the war on drugs? Legalise them, Comment,
November 8). Firstly, his point that Portugal's decriminalisation has
resulted in the decrease in the price of street drugs. Isn't an
increase in the price of addictive substances (booze, fags) meant to
Then: "So legalise the lot." Okay, let's. Watch for a massive price
war between the major supermarkets. Buy one get one free?
Sadly, there is no answer and no-one should pretend they have it; too
much to lose when, inevitably, things turn out differently from the
Hugh Burns Edinburgh
Six years ago the Government's chief drugs adviser, David Nutt,
alerted us to a frightening addiction called "equasy".
Equasy, as Nutt described it, was a pursuit that released adrenaline
and pleasurable endorphins into the brain. It was also extremely
dangerous, often fatal. Nutt reckoned that around one in every 350
usages of equasy resulted in acute physical harm. Worse still, this
was an addiction that had in its grip tens of thousands of people
across Britain, including small children.
Equasy was horse-riding. Nutt's point was that, objectively speaking,
riding a horse is a far more dangerous hobby than taking little MDMA
pills, or ecstasy, in nightclubs. While he calculated that 1 in 350
horseriding episodes resulted in harm, that was only the case with 1
in 10,000 episodes of ecstasy use. And yet ecstasy was a Class A
banned drug and the object of great waves of concern from the media
and politicians, while horse-riding was not.
[continues 967 words]
Amid a fragrant haze of hypocrisy, the line is that there will be no
change, funding cuts aside, in UK drugs strategy. Meanwhile, police
forces the length of these islands are improvising policies of their own
IT could be a pub quiz question. What do Armenia and Argentina have
in common? The Czech Republic and Chile? Paraguay and Poland? The
answer isn't football. Each has decided, in some fashion, that if you
just say no to drugs, you say nothing useful at all. Depending on the
definitions used, there are between 25 and 30 such countries. Their
laws, methods, aims and ambitions vary. Some have legalised drugs.
Some have "re-legalised". A few never got around to prohibition to
begin with. Most have experimented - for personal use, you understand
- - with a gateway policy, decriminalisation.
[continues 1117 words]
There can be no doubt that the daft war on drugs is devastating many
of the world's poorest countries, from Africa to Latin America. But
this has been ignored by major charities that claim to campaign for
international development, presumably for fear of upsetting their
donors. Now one has broken ranks, with the release of an important
report from Christian Aid condemning what it calls "a blind spot in
Christian Aid deserves credit for taking a stand, one which has
caused internal palpitations. The report itself highlights the
hypocrisy of successive British governments that have poured money
into aid yet supported the prohibition ripping apart poor
communities. One day they will see that sanctimonious talk of saving
the world is not a solution to complex problems.
[continues 474 words]
ALL debate is good. So, we welcome calls today for an informed
discussion in this country around drugs. We know the absurdly titled
'war on drugs' has failed miserably - criminalising ordinary men,
women and children for recreational use of drugs such as cannabis. We
also know that Scotland sees itself as a progressive, intelligent country.
Progressive, intelligent countries are not afraid to debate difficult
issues. This is not about campaigning for decriminalisation. This is
about Scotland debating how best to deal with a very real drug
problem and making an informed choice about how to proceed.
[continues 83 words]
SCOTLAND must start the debate on decriminalising drugs, campaigners,
MSPs and former government advisers have said.
The call follows an announcement by the Irish government that it
plans a "radical culture shift" which will see possession of drugs
decriminalised in ordered to focus on offering helping to addicts and
users rather than punishing them with criminal convictions and prison.
As the call came, the Scottish Government also told the Sunday Herald
that it was reaffirming its wish for Holyrood to take responsibility
over drug laws, which are currently reserved to Westminster.
[continues 2043 words]
Marijuana Legalisation Will Help Poor 'Supply' Nations
An absurd status quo has held sway in Mexico, ever since the United
States began to legalise marijuana, for medical, and, more recently,
recreational use. The nation - encouraged by Washington - has some of
the strictest drug laws in Latin America. But the vast majority of
the marijuana it produces ends up in the US. So Mexican law
enforcement officials - complying with the demands of their American
counterparts - have been expending massive resources on preventing
the growth and trafficking of a drug that is often, by the time it
ends up being smoked within US borders, entirely legal.
[continues 208 words]
The UN wants its members to decriminalise drugs, and Sir Richard
Branson thinks that is just great. Well, it is not quite like that;
as so often, the story is more nuanced than the headline. The paper
Sir Richard leaked, which urges "decriminalising drug use and
possession for personal consumption", was drawn up for a conference
in Kuala Lumpur on harm reduction by Dr Monica Beg, an official at
the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. It
has since been withdrawn and, as you can gather from the outcry, it
is certainly a "third-rail issue" you touch it at your peril.
[continues 907 words]
'We Should Treat Drug Use As a Health Issue'
A United Nations body plans to urge governments around the world to
decriminalise possession of drugs for personal use, tycoon Richard
Branson said last night.
The Virgin entrepreneur said that in an as-yet unreleased statement
circulated to the BBC, himself and others, the UN Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) called for decriminalisation of drug use and possession
for personal consumption for all drugs.
He added in an article on his blog: "This is a refreshing shift that
could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of
millions of drug users around the world.
[continues 593 words]
The entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has been involved in a clash
with the United Nations over his claim that the organisation was
poised to endorse a global policy of decriminalising drugs.
Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy, claimed
on his personal blog on the Virgin website yesterday that the UN's
Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has been a bastion of the
"war on drugs", was poised to publish a statement endorsing the
decriminalisation of the personal possession and use of drugs.
[continues 511 words]
'Decriminalise the Possession and Use of All Substances'
United Nations officials have called for the possession and use of
all drugs to be decriminalised by governments, in a private report
hailed as a "turning-point in drug policy reform".
But the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) immediately distanced
itself from the controversial conclusions, which were leaked by the
Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, and insisted they did not
represent the UN's official position.
The briefing paper argues that criminalising drug use increases death
rates among addicts and has led to the jailing of millions of people
for non-violent offences.
[continues 899 words]
Legalising cannabis would raise taxes worth hundreds of millions of
pounds and produce large savings for the criminal justice system, a
private analysis for the Treasury has concluded.
It judged that regulating cannabis, which was used by more than two
million people in the UK last year, could generate "notable tax
revenue" and "lead to overall savings to public services".
The Treasury study, seen by The Independent, was commissioned by the
former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg ahead of the general election
to help formulate Liberal Democrat drugs policy if the party remained
[continues 641 words]
The Liberal Democrats are to set up an expert panel to establish how
a legal market for cannabis could work in Britain, paving the way for
them to become the first major political party in the UK to back its
The move is backed the party's health spokesman, Norman Lamb, and by
a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police,
Brian Paddick. It is in line with a 2014 party conference resolution
that called for a review of the effectiveness of a regulated market
in relation to health and reduced criminal activity.
[continues 510 words]
Former Lib Dem Leader Hopes to Build Support for New Approach at 2016
Nick Clegg launches a campaign today to persuade EU leaders to back
global reform of drugs laws, warning that the current punitive
approach has failed to curb the multibillion trade in illicit
substances and has criminalised millions of young people.
Writing in The Independent, the former Deputy Prime Minister says:
"We are, without doubt, losing the war on drugs." Mr Clegg is to urge
European leaders to make the case for a new global approach to drug
abuse at a United Nations meeting next year. Many of them have
switched tactics in recent years, tackling it as a health issue
rather than a law and order problem.
[continues 457 words]
We are losing the war on drugs. But there are reasons to be hopeful.
In recent years, a global movement for reform has been building. Led
in particular by the governments of countries in Latin America that
have suffered most, politicians and policymakers around the globe
have started to question the status quo.
This isn't a headlong rush to legalisation, but a patient, rational
debate about alternative approaches which might reduce overall harm.
In the United States, zero tolerance and mass imprisonment has given
way to a willingness to allow states to experiment with alternative
regulatory models as Colorado, Washington, Oregon and others are
doing with cannabis - and a growing disquiet at the injustice and
social impacts of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of young, mainly
black, men for drug offences.
[continues 238 words]
The three young men climbing into the pickup close to the Oregon
border cheerfully acknowledged they were about to break federal law.
Anthony, Daniel and Chris had just bustled out of a marijuana shop in
Vancouver, Washington, clutching bags of marijuana as they headed
home a short drive over the bridge to Portland, Oregon.
Crossing state lines with drugs is a federal offence not that it has
discouraged the steady stream of customers from Portland taking
advantage of Washington's legalisation of recreational marijuana
sales last year. As of yesterday, Oregon joined Washington and
Colorado to become the third US state to permit the sale for anyone
over 21. "I've been coming across since they legalised it here," said
Anthony. "But it'll be closer and it's going to be much cheaper in
Portland. And I won't haveh to cross the bridge. Not that I've ever
seen the cops lining up to catch us." The open sale of recreational
mar marijuana has come more swiftly to Portland than many expected.
Legalisation was only approved in a ballot measure last November
whereas Washington state took 18 months to open its first shops.
[continues 617 words]
In "Romeo and Juliet," the lovelorn hero proclaims that "Love is a
smoke raised with the fume of sighs."
The line may have actually been inspired by the fumes of cannabis,
according to a recently published paper on William Shakespeare and
his smoking habits.
The report, which cites a 2001 analysis of early 17th-century pipes
from Stratford-upon-Avon and the Bard's own residence, argues that
Shakespeare could have smoked the substance and was probably well
aware of its hallucinatory effects.
[continues 292 words]
SIR Your article on the inherent dangers of legalising cannabis is a
timely warning (Features, August 1).
The groups lobbying for this drug to be decriminalised say that this
may reduce usage. In the past they have also pointed out that the
costs of nicotine and alcohol addiction to the NHS are much greater
than those of cannabis although if the drug were legalised, the
costs would presumably rise.
But there is a fundamental reason why such legislation should not
occur. Many people previously addicted to nicotine or alcohol can
make a full recovery by abstaining; that is not always the case with
[continues 51 words]