Thursday, 16 December 2010

Fisking Bob Ainsworth et al.

Fun BBC article.

"An ex-minister who had responsibility for drugs policy has called for all drugs to be legally available.

Bob Ainsworth, a Home Office minister under Tony Blair, said successive governments' approaches had failed, leaving criminal gangs in control."

Ex-minister joins what everyone has been saying for decades. Well done though. Nice to see being a minister and having a good idea aren't totally incompatible.

"Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said it was "not the answer" to drugs which ruin lives."
If the question is "how do we stop criminals profiting from drug addiction?" then yes, yes this is the answer.
"Decriminalisation is a simplistic solution that fails to recognise the complexity of the problem and ignores the serious harm drug taking poses to the individual."

The harm to the individual is none of your business, the cost to the NHS, sure, the cost of drug-inspired crimes, yes. And on both these counts you do better under this proposal.

The NHS does better because if Glaxo-Smith-Klien or Phiser is producing your crack you dont get all the nasty stuff, you know, rat poison, talcum powder, all the normal stuff that makes drugs a lot more dangerous than the raw chemical.

The cost of drug inspired crimes goes down as well, as I said the whole point of this (besides the silly little argument about such abstract concepts as liberty) is taking drugs, hence drug money, out of the hands of criminals. This means that you massively cut into funding arrangement of organised crime, of course this doesn't stop organised crime getting money other ways, fraud, prostitution (*polite cough* might I make a suggestion...) and of course, the main way terrorism and violent crime gets money, pirated fucking DVDs.

"Legalisation fails to address the reasons people misuse drugs in the first place or the misery, cost and lost opportunities that dependence causes individuals, their families and the wider community."

It also doesn't solve the sovereign debt crisis. ... You notice this isn't an argument because the current arrangements fail to address that problem too.

He said he realised when Home Office minister in charge of drugs policy that the so-called war on drugs could not be won.

Did he also realise the sky is blue?

All three main parties at Westminster remain opposed to the legalisation of drugs
The Labour backbencher said: "Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit."

Mr Ainsworth said billions of pounds was being spent "without preventing the wide availability of drugs".

"It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children," he said.

This is one of the most depressingly huge examples of the sadly all too common solution to all problems:

1) try something
2) doesn't work
3) do the same thing more
4) doesn't work even more
5) try harder
6) utterly fail for generations
7) ???
8) profit

Mr Ainsworth insisted he was "not a libertarian" and that people should not be encouraged to use substances.

Would it be so terrible if you were? And while we're at it, I dont think anyone is calling for people to be *encouraged* to use drugs! For the state to instruct people to use drugs would be as bad for a libertarian as them instructing people not to. There are real public costs to drug use, the NHS and crime. Thus we must try to reduce those harms. The argument isn't that drugs are good (though doubtless some are lovely). Rather it is that the best way to reduce public harms isn't by the totally infective method of banning drugs.

But he said: "We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."

Big pharma is evil, but they dont put rat poison in your drugs. ... often.

"Those who supplied or sold drugs without the requisite licence would still be operating illegally, in the same way as those who sell tobacco, alcohol or prescription drugs without a licence or proper authority would be currently," he said.

And while we're at it, we haven't even mentioned the lovely big-stateist argument yet. You get to regulate and tax. So the government gets tax money, and get to prescribe, as with alcohol and tobacco, all the things like strength and packaging and not selling it to kids and that sort of thing. At the moment selling drugs at the highest possible concentration (I mean before the aforementioned packing agents) makes the most sense from a drug mule's POV. With regulation you dont have to worry about fitting things inside a stomach or a decorative frog so you can sell things at a much more safe concentration.

"As you can see from the reaction this morning, if I was now a shadow minister, Ed Miliband would be asking me to resign. If one of David Cameron's ministers - despite the fact [the prime minister] probably agrees with me - agreed publicly with me, he would have to resign."

The Daily Mail rules all. Sad, but true.

Last week, Home Secretary Theresa May said the government's drugs strategy would remain focused on rehabilitation and reducing supply.

If rehab is your goal then here's an idea, dont make going up to the NHS and saying "I'm addicted to X can you help" a confession of a serious crime with a prison sentence. ... Prison where of course our luckless addict gets more addicted to harder drugs. If you make saying "I'm addicted to crack" not legally dangerous then shockingly a lot more people will say it.

Blah blah Holland blah

Hear hear.

However, anti-drugs campaigner Debra Bell, whose eldest son William began smoking cannabis at 14, believes that he would have progressed to taking class A substances had they been legally available.

a) Class A substances are not more dangerous than Class C ones, if you son switches from cannabis to ecstasy for example, you should celebrate.

b) The fact that your son was not deterred by the fact that cannabis was illegal suggests to me that the reason he didn't take up heroin is something else.

"Just the fact that Bob Ainsworth is talking in this way will send strong signals to some children - a green light - to start experimenting and I really don't think that's the way forward in a civilised society," she argued.

a) How many kids take advice on drugs from former ministers? I mean really.

b) All this green light stuff is stupid. You need a clear voice from government. "This is the science, this is what drugs do to you: ecstasy, not much, alcohol, bad stuff. Now that you have that information, here is where you can buy safe, pure drugs from brand name firms if you so choose. And here is where you can go to the NHS to quit smoking, drinking, injecting, etc."

I'm not sure that saying "banning this doesn't work" is the same as saying "you should do this". We dont ban smoking (we should ban it in public places of course, tobacco just the same as cannabis), but that doesn't stop really powerful government health campaigns to stop people smoking.

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