21 September 2005

David Cameron is right about drugs.

The Tory leadership candidate David Cameron, may be wrong on many things, but he and the Green Party are right when they argue that the macho-posturing by politicians on the subject of drugs (which was taken to new levels by right wing Tories and their press friends) should end. Sadly New Labour have followed this lead to appear tough on crime, when prohibition has proved a total failure.

David Cameron rightly argues that ALL drugs should be legalised. I know that some Tories on the libertarian right have argued this for a while, but Cameron is the first main-stream potential leader to argue this. It has been his stated opinion for a while that all drugs should be legal because it reduces crime by reducing criminal profit and enables control and supply of drugs to be under government control thereby reducing the harm they cause. It was such a shock to read some common sense on this subject, especially as it came from a Tory! Although his PR team did panic into a slight backtrack later by stating all Cameron wanted to do was to open a debate about legalising drugs.


  1. Perhaps "the genie is out the bottle", though. If you work on the basis that, as with tobacco, the drug is legal, but the government can try to squeeze it into oblivion via increasing taxation and media campaigns, there'll surely come a tipping-point when it'll become cheaper/easier for formerly-illegal drug-users to go back to the tried-and-tested dealers.

    Perhaps we first need to answer the question, "can the authorities ever really stop intelligent, affluent people getting hold of any drug they want?" If the answer's "No", then that rather kills off the preventative policy (which a lot of people would like to work), and makes the issue entirely one of control. In which case, legalisation is something we could at least try, without worrying that we're somehow "encouraging" drug use.

  2. Have you ever seen or lived in a place where the use of heroin is even semi-legalized? Whatever intentions a permissive government might have, it cannot prevent the kind of scenario that occurs in Kings Cross in Sydney, where intravenous drug use happens in the open and the entire neighborhood comes to be dominated by the pathological junkie culture, at the expense of all the other currents of local life.

    My point is that in your ideal vision, Neil, the use of heroin in public would be more widespread and acceptable than smoking.

  3. David - I appreciate what you say, but I don't think anyone's asking for one small area to be set aside for heroin use, or indeed for heroin use to be allowed in public. Most towns in Britain have a ban on drinking alcohol in public, which is actually enforced sometimes (not on Brighton beach, however, as Neil and B4L will know). I favour the legalisation and control of all drugs, but I, and most who share my opinion, would balk at the suggestion that we should ghettoise drug use in the way that seems to have happened in Sydney (and I'm not familiar with the situation you refer to). I'd suggest that "semi-legalizing" heroin would be no more effective than prohibiting it.

  4. David, here is an interesting article about Australia, on how drug use has risen more in states that enforce strict prohibition.