Monday, August 13, 2007

Tim Worstall on drugs

Here at the ASI.

Tim points to a government-sponsored questionnaire.

My responses:

1. What role do you think schools could play in better educating our young people about drugs? Have you heard of FRANK? Take a look at and tell us, do you think the messages about the highs and lows of drug use are right?
FRANK seems better than the resources available twenty odd years ago when I was at school, but honesty is the most important thing. Dangers of drugs were exaggerated and this brought even legitimate warnings into disrepute.
2. We also know that drugs are major source of concern for parents – what more can we do to help parents, guardians and carers talk to their children and families about drugs? And what support should be available if family members get caught up in drugs?
Nothing, and none. It's not such a bad problem as to warrant interference with families.
3. Did you know that the police have the power to confiscate drug dealers’ houses, cash, cars and valuable possessions? Did you also know that the police can close drug dens within 24 hours? The police rely on communities for intelligence, what more can be done to help communities and their local police service work together? Do the police and local communities have all the legal powers they need to tackle drugs?
Yes, yes and yes. Local communities often disagree with the drug prohibition. Drug use is sometimes very widespread. The problem comes from having laws that lack social consensus. The drug laws should be repealed.
4. The Government is committed to helping drug users build drug-free lives. Treatment, housing, employment and education are all vital. What more do you think Government, local services, the voluntary sector, private business and others can do to help people stay drug free?
Repeal the prohibitive legislation. Drug use drops, and is always less harmful, when the laws tend towards legalisation.
5. What information and action would reassure you that drug dealing and other drug-related nuisances were being tackled where you live?
This isn't an issue for me - drug users do not interfere in any way with my life, except insofar as the prohibition has driven up prices such that we all have to endure artificial levels of crime. I want to see the drug laws repealed, and police resources devoted to preventing the much smaller residue of crime that would be left. Drug prohibition, not drug use, makes my person and my property unsafe.
6. The Government remains concerned that drugs can look glamorous to young people. What more can we do to challenge this? Do you think we could do more through role models, including those from peer groups? How can we get more young people involved in challenging the drugs culture?
The glamour of drug use and - worse - the glamour of crime that is transmitted by osmosis now that drug dealing is so dangerous that mainly professional criminals do it, are both created by the law. Repeal the drug prohibitions, and stop wasting tax payers' money.
7. The Government is concerned about skunk and stronger strains of cannabis, because of the reported serious mental health effects they can have. The Government is therefore consulting on whether to make cannabis a Class B drug (it is currently Class C) which could mean tougher penalties. What are your views? Do you think this will help?
It's eye-wateringly stupid and oppressive. Even the most extreme estimates reckon the alleged risk to mental health applies to 800 people, out of the 5 million or so who smoke cannabis. Further criminalising millions of people who are good citizens and neighbours to protect a few hundred against an unproven risk of harm would be simple tyranny.

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