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  • I think Miss Annie and I have been saying this for years. This is multi-fsceted problem. There is a huge demand for these drug's by the middle classes. The police turn a blind eye to this likely because these are white people who.drink craft beer, and shop at farmer's markets. Am in Bangladesh at the moment where the east end heroin problem has been pushed back to the streets of Sylhet. No one gives a flying f*** about these immigrant kids. I know because I am one
    Look at the way we treated Shamima Begum. It's our fault she gets groomed and now we wash our hands of her. This is the wonderful modern austerity Britain we live in.
  • "police turn a blind eye to this likely because these are white people who.drink craft beer, and shop at farmer's markets."

    Do you write for the Daily Mash?

    The only people who actually say things like that with a straight face are white people who drink craft beer and shop at farmer's markets.
  • The market served by country lines couldn't be more different to the one you characterise: It's habitual (and often vulnerable) drug users in small towns
  • Seems like yet another reason for legislation/decriminalisation.
  • It does seem a bit mental to let criminals be in charge of the drugs.
  • How is it a reason for legalisation/decriminalisation?
  • joustjoust N4
    edited March 11
    Why would it still happen if drugs were legalised?
  • Cigarettes and alcohol are legal, and yet there is still criminal activity around them e.g. counterfeiting and smuggling.
  • Also olive oil & balsamic vinegar...
  • But much less than with illegal produce. If people could buy these substances legally there wouldn't be sufficient profit margin for them to be in the hands of gangs. These guys aren't pushing fags and olive oil on the citizens of Norwich.
  • At one point in my life I was a habitual user of hard drugs for a number of years, meth, ket and others. I was always a stoner from a young age, I'm not proud of it in any way shape or form but it was part of my life. Thankfully I've been clean for years and not even tempted to fall back into old ways. For many many years I truly believed in making all drugs legal, obviously setting us official shops with government backing and quality control cutting out the middle man so to say. But over the last five years I've totally changed my mind, drugs should not be made legal, they are a danger and a blight on society. Dealers should be sent down for years even weed dealers, people who smoke weed on the street should be prosecuted. If drugs are easy to get (and they are) people will use. I did. It almost ruined my life, and making it easier for people is just folly.
  • edited March 11
    If cannabis and 'soft' drugs are legalised there ceases to be a profit in them, what do you think will happen? Those who make their living from them will do what, go and work in a shop or something?
    No, they will focus on creating a market for another high margin low cost substance, whether it be crystal meth or whatever.

    At the top level gangs work much like highly successful corporate businesses - Amazon for example.
    Identify a market, create demand with low initial prices to build your customer base, flood the market, destroy the competition, increase price.

    I'm sure that legalising cannabis will happen eventually. It might as well be now, the stench in the streets round here is inescapable.
    Legalising crack, crystal meth? I don't think any government would go for that. There'll always be a way to make money from substance abuse and addiction, you just need to invest enough cash to get enough people addicted for cheap and off you go.

    The people who run gangs at the highest level would be an asset to any business, they are enterprising, ambitious and understand supply and demand.
  • "The people who run gangs at the highest level would be an asset to any business, they are enterprising, ambitious and understand supply and demand."

    Very insightful and an interesting comment on corporate capitalism
  • Off Licence owners don’t stab each other competing for ‘turf’. They also don’t kidnap 15 year olds to sell ‘product’ in market towns outside of the capital.
  • edited March 12
    That's a slightly simplistic argument @N4Matt as there isn't a really dramatic difference in addiction levels and effects wise with alcohol. Alcoholics on the whole just want alcohol. It can be vodka, white spirit or nail varnish remover - it's all just alcohol. There's personal prefences but when it comes down to it booze is booze for an addict. The market for booze is enormous, offies are unlikely to ever need to compete for turf. There are 12 places to buy drink just in SG. Are you saying that legalisation of drugs would create a much larger market for them?

    There is a massive and dramatic difference between addictions to different drugs. People who are addicted to meth will likely never use coke. It's chemically different and won't give them the high they need. The market will always be there and the reasons why are complex and not solved by legalizing drugs. Housing, mental health services and rehab is the solution.

    I think more money and resources should be ploughed into closing operations down and there should be harsh sentences for all and any drug related crimes. I am not in favour of legalisation unless it is every drug, prescription only and ringfenced funds are given for rehab clinics. If you only legalise soft drugs you are just moving the problem up a level. I have never used any drugs at all though so maybe I come at it from a different viewpoint than everyone else who has commented.

    How far do you think Government legalisation will go?
  • It would be great if there was a way to identify the kids who end up running these operations at an early age, mentor them and use their nascent business skills and savvy for good.
  • A common argument is that certain drugs - meth and heroin being examples- shouldn't be legally sold, but should be legally prescribed to addicts. This makes it hard for people to become addicted while removing the profit margin from dealers. It also has the merit of being a healthcare solution rather than a judicial one.

    There may always be some level of gang activity - there always has been - but prohibition greatly increases it. And there is no correlation between strong enforcement and use either, as Iran and Saudi demonstrate rather depressingly.
  • The war on drugs is obviously not working. Criminalising drugs puts vulnerable users into more vulnerable situations by forcing them to deal with criminals. Why not ensure that they can have access to a cleaner, safer product in a cleaner safer environment where they can also access support for their other issues.

    The changes in law in Portugal and Switzerland have proven successful.

    In Colorado and California where weed has been made legal there are not dispensaries in every street corner, society has not descended into madness and users are no longer criminalised for smoking a natural product. Supply only matches demand and users will use regardless of legislation.
  • I still can't understand how the description of "county lines" and the problems around them are in any way an argument for legalising any drug. What other legislation should we do away with because its enforcement is a drain on resources or causes other problems? Should we, for instance, legalise armed robbery? After all, it's a terrible drain on police resources, and drives gangs underground, likely increasing the violence between gang members. Were armed robbery to be legalised, robbers could form cosy little worker's co-operatives and pay taxes on their earnings, and all the problems would go away.

    It seems to me absurd to argue for legalising something just because enforcement has caused other problems. Either the principle of the legislation is sound or it isn't, regardless of the problems of enforcement or secondary effects. We need better, and better-informed enforcement policies. What pains HMGov is that it's another thing that would cost more money, which would mean less money for them, their high tax-bracketed chums, and the corporations from which they benefit.
  • Scruffy, with respect does that not miss the central argument here? We should only ban things that *directly harm others* - that's the harm principle which has been central to liberal thought for two centuries. Armed robbery harms people. In principle taking a drug only risks direct harm to yourself - and that's the individual's business. The exterior harm in the drug trade is almost entirely caused by its prohibition - i.e. the crime associated with illegal trafficking - though some aspects of personal harm are also increased by prohibition - i.e. impure drugs.

    It's not the business of the state to tell people how they should have a good time, so long as they are not harming others. And where the state does try to stop such activities the harm - to individuals and society - always becomes worse.

    This is categorically not about decriminalising things that do harm to others merely to save on the costs of enforcement. Indeed the police would have more resources to focus on the real scumbags if they weren't spending so much time criminalising people who aren't doing harm. They'd have more sympathy from a wide section of society, too.
  • N4Matt points to some solid examples of countries bucking the global prohibition trend and the direct reduction in harm that has resulted. The literature demonstrating this is now numerous and overwhelming. I confess to being a bit perplexed that some people still talk as though this wasn't the case, indeed talk as though they've never heard the other side of the argument at all.
  • What you say may well be true, @Arkady , but I was merely questioning the assertion that the difficulties and expense of enforcement should have any bearing on whether something is illegal.
  • Apologies, I didn't see that being asserted.
  • Have any of you been to California and seen this in action? It's a law (like most American laws), that benefits only the middle class and above. Yes, you can buy cannabis there, although you need a prescription for high doses. @Detritus can tell you more as he lived there for 10 years.

    That doesn't stop the problems and gang activity for harder drugs, it just pleases the middle class 30/40 somethings who like a like after dinner smoke and don't want to go to the lad from the crack house that sells it in the side to get it.
  • Strongly agree with Arkady. I also think that there is a subtle but important distinction between legalisation and decriminalisation. Unfortunately I can't see this government doing anything the Daily Mail would pounce on as being soft on crime and drugs, or funding things which would reduce harm. "Government gives addicts money for drugs while workers have to use food banks!"
  • I don't think that anyone has ever argued that legalising weed would reduce the harm of other substances. Indeed that would be a very foolish argument to make. As I set out above, the well-evidenced best way (as to a degree is now the case in Portugal) to deal with 'harder' drugs is to decriminalise their use (not sale) and prescribe them, where appropriate, to addicts. That undercuts the market, removes the incentive to sell illegally (and therefore greatly reduces the number of new addicts) while getting proper treatment to the existing addicts.

    Those simply calling for higher sanctions for sale/use ignore the well-established fact that there is zero evidence of a correlation between criminal punishment and rates of addiction in any country. On the other hand there is overwhelming evidence that any form of prohibition increases harm.

    Calling for higher sanctions is a moral spasm rather than an effective solution for reducing harm.
  • edited March 12
    Would you all legalize all drugs? Or just the ones you take?
    No country has legalized hard drugs, and I believe production of cannabis is still illegal in Holland.

    If we are holding Iran and Saudi up as examples of why enforcing drug laws doesn't work we have reached the end of the discussion for me. Those are also countries where you can be imprisoned for PDAs.
    Let's talk about Jamaica. Decriminaized cannabis use and cultivation. One of the highest murder rates per capita in the world.
  • Drugs are all still illegal in Holland. They just officially turn a blind eye.

    All drugs are decriminalised in Portugal (and a few other countries.)

    I think legalising all drugs would be OK. We live in an era of next day delivery of any drug you want. There is zero difficulty in getting them. Its almost as easy as buying something off ebay.

    I'd be happy with some sort of more strict Swedish Systembolaget style of sale, accompanied with a sensible drugs education at school (far better than just say NO, or Talk To Frank)

    The goals should be harm reduction, taking the power and control from criminals, and freedom to do what you want with your body.

    The money they could make from this would easily provide help for the people who need it.
  • I was with my 5 year old son at FP station on Sunday. People were openly dealing all over the place. Our kids live in this area, go to school, play in parks. They are destroying the local community and i want the whole lot gone. Its turned the area into a hole. The fact that they do it, and its accepted on JC's patch, is an absolute disgrace. I would imagine that there were 15 knives or so concealed by people that were there too, just part and parcel of the risks of dealing. Chuck in a sniffer dog for an afternoon, put the dog on a train, just do something for gods sake. There's always been drugs and wrong-uns knocking about, but i've never felt like i was walking into crime zone, i do now.

    As for original comment about Shamima Begum. It never ceases to amaze me how someones personal responsibility is abdicated on their behalf by someone to suit a narrative. Its always someone else's fault. Nope, there might be some other factors that can influence outcomes, but ultimately we make choices, some of them bad, but we accept that we made them. In her case, she decided to show no remorse, as a result she got an outcome that went against her. She could have had a different public viewpoint, but she didn't.
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