An issue that will not go away, mainly because politicians across the spectrum cannot or will not address it, is that of currently illegal drugs. And, demonstrating that we need these kinds of newspapers (who else will allow the airing of such subjects and their debate?), today’s Guardian has lobbed the grenade into the room, with this article.
And why won’t politicians face up to the D-word? Step forward the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail. Any politico putting his or her head above the parapet on this one knows that the Mail will be there to shoot it off. More, the screaming denunciation will be backed up by sufficient personal intrusion and the nastiest kind of attacks to shut up anyone who steps out of line.
Why is this? Dacre could do the country a substantial service by admitting the obvious: that present policy on drugs doesn’t work. Decriminalisation, together with regulation, has the potential to lower crime rates and therefore the cost of policing. Moreover, there is also a potential revenue benefit to the Treasury. Would more folks use the stuff? We don’t know – but what we do know is that Paul Dacre also doesn’t know. And he’s got nothing better to offer, bar more screaming denunciation.
The status quo has come about because the size of the industries involved with legal drugs – including tobacco and alcohol – means that their lobbying has kept them legal. That, more or less, is all there is to it. Illegal drugs can do all sorts of nasty things to a user’s wellbeing. And so can legal drugs.
It’s all very well sneering at the Guardian. At least one newspaper is grown up enough to have the debate – it’s just a pity that others are not.