Tag Archives: cannabis

Opinion: Our flawed drug laws are at heart of riots

David Davis MP, in his appearance on the Question Time “riots special” said: “There are estates in Alan Simpson’s constituency where there are youngsters the age of 12 or 13 who got £30 a day paid for delivering drugs on whose estate the man to look up to was the drug dealers”

Brian Paddick: “Exactly”

Davis “because he had a big car and he lived well. And if we create circumstances like that it’ll be no surprise we get the problems we’ve had in London and the Midlands and the North in the last week.”

This is a fairly astute recognition of …

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Opinion: the lone maverick won’t change drugs policy. An army of moderates might.

As a passionate advocate of drugs policy reform, I was very excited on Wednesday evening about the prospect of a former drugs and defence minister coming out in favour of regulated drug supply. I thought someone with such experience could blow the debate wide open, and we could really start getting to grips with the issue as a nation. Sadly the debate that resulted was again loose and ill-defined. Was he talking about legalisation of all drugs, decriminalisation, prescription of heroin to addicts? Because the debate was poorly defined, it was allowed to spin out into sensationalism and I quickly got the sense that this wasn’t going to be the breakthrough I had hoped.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that drug policy reform is not going to happen soon if we are going to continue this trickling pattern of lone mavericks each proclaiming different varieties of the sensible, progressive message. What we need instead is for all these mavericks to get together with respected stakeholders and work to produce ONE message, one set of policies which can be held up as the first step. Reformers need to engage with other lobby groups outwith the major political parties whose activities aren’t closely monitored by the Daily Mail for any sign of intelligent (and therefore reprehensible) thought. We need to engage children’s charities and talk through how best reform can tackle issues of child neglect and abuse. We need to talk to police associations about how best to reduce serious organised crime and petty thefts. We should talk to retailers about the potential to massively reduce shoplifting. We should invite the teacher’s unions in to talk about how we close off criminal career opportunities for disadvantaged children and help them engage in education as their best means of advancement. Mental health charities can make vital inputs into breaking the links between depression and addiction or between cannabis and psychosis. The list of sensible influential groups who can contribute to the development of and subsequently support a single message of moderate reform could go on and on.

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Daily View 2×2: 5 November 2009

Good morning and welcome to the Voice’s early morning roundup of news and views. It’s 5th November, an anniversary we can all remember, when Guy Fawkes didn’t quite manage to get his suggestions for MPs’ expense reform through Parliament. It’s also Art Garfunkel’s birthday – he’s 68 today.

2 Big Stories

Bloody betrayal raises fresh doubts about Britain’s campaign in Afghanistan

The Times carries the story most papers are leading with this morning.

The killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman raised fresh doubts yesterday about Britain’s mission in Helmand.

Senior political, diplomatic and military figures warned that public support for the British presence was in danger of collapse without a clear and freshly defined strategy.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has one of the more startling headlines I’ve read recently:

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Opinion: The Nutt affair – or, the thin line between evidence and policy

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a scientist, who is also interested in governance and politics, so the following post may come across as somewhat heated. Apologies, but I do feel that the recent furore over Prof. David Nutt’s sacking as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) goes right to the heart of why I took up both science and politics as profession and interest respectively.

We begin with Prof. Nutt’s most recent criticism of the government’s drugs policy, which attracted headlines for claiming that alcohol, despite being legal and freely available, was more harmful than the Class A narcotic ecstasy (MDMA). At first sight this may seem like an outlandish statement to make, but the evidence, collated by Prof. Nutt, suggests otherwise; granted, the recent publication from Nutt’s The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the methodologies used to calculate his ‘harm index’ were so, and published in one of the most respected medical journals, The Lancet in 2007 (the full article is behind a paywall, contact me if you want the pdf…). Just to repeat this – using what seems to me to be a robust method, taking into account everything from physical harm to the user to social harms at large, ecstasy does indeed seem to be less dangerous than alcohol, and it’s using this tried and tested method of enquiry that Nutt used to conclude that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarManfarang 20th Apr - 3:20am
    sky9 True lies.
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    @George Crozier & RC - You think this polling erroneous and most people are positive about the Lib Dems? Maybe your sample set is very...
  • User AvatarStephen Howse 20th Apr - 12:37am
    This isn't even about not wanting someone from the "left" of the party in the role - the current president is very definitely of the...
  • User AvatarStephen Howse 20th Apr - 12:35am
    "Don’t you believe in balance and a diversity of views? " Yes, I do indeed! I believe we are stronger for our diversity and for...
  • User Avatardaft ha'p'orth 19th Apr - 11:37pm
    @David Pollard I'd be all for teaching a little mythology and classical studies. Studying Gilgamesh, Deucalion and Genesis in parallel, for example, is a popular...
  • User AvatarPaul In Twickenham 19th Apr - 11:36pm
    It was interesting (and slightly surprising) to see widespread media coverage for a report from Princeton that labelled the USA as an oligarchy rather than...