Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Messages of cowardice and stupidity

"The moral and practical case for controlling a market that has defied suppression for a third of a century is overwhelming. Drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin must somehow be distributed within the ambit of legal and medical regulation, as they were to an extent before 1971 and are slowly being elsewhere. Finding a means of doing this, given the scale of the illicit market, is a mighty challenge; but only cowardice places it beyond the capacity of Britain's politicians. All they can do is bleat out their pathetic 'messages'. Next week's will be one of abject surrender." —Simon Jenkins


ianvisits said...

I half-agree.

I think the concept of prohibition has utterly failed as far as cannabis is concerned - in the sense that it is perceived to be an unwelcome law by the majority of the general public. I am not so sure about the laws restricting access to cocaine and heroin though - as there could be a much stronger health issue to be debated, especially as it is the taxpayer who funds the resultant medical care.

However, if cannabis was to be decriminalized and licensed for sale - which sort of cannabis would it be?

Most of the "cannabis is safe" studies seem to rely on studies of users who smoked it when the supply was of a much weaker version than is currently offered to buyers. For the licensed version to maintain its moderate safety rating, it would have to be offered at a dosage which is weaker than most exisiting users have become used to.

I doubt any government would license the sale of cannabis at the strengths it is currently offered at - as there are increasing numbers of studies which suggest that strength is more likely to be harmful.

Would existing users be willing to switch to a low-strength version if it was legalized though?

Ian Brown said...

Interesting question. Most UK drinkers seem happy with the 4-5% beer sold in pubs when much stronger versions are available (legally as spirits, and illegally as moonshine :) but I don't know how much that tells us :) There must be data from countries like the Netherlands on how much illegal cannabis continues to be consumed.

Ben Goldacre had a good Bad Science column last year on the cannabis strength question.