Some time ago, I put together a short series of posts on the way in which the UK approaches the business of currently illegal drugs. The conclusion was, more or less, that we would benefit from a reasoned debate on the subject, but that this will not occur while much of the tabloid media is ready to shout down anyone making such a suggestion, with politicians of every stripe lining up to sound “tough on drugs”.
Also, the involvement of organised criminality in the drug trade was considered: much of the crime committed across the UK is directly attributable to this. Yet successive Governments still cling to the mantra of being “tough on drugs”, and anyone stepping out of line is likely to receive short shrift. Today has seen a superb example of that behaviour in action.
Professor David Nutt – there’s a gift for tomorrow’s tabloids – has been asked to stand down from his position as head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs by Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Any other Home Secretary would have taken the same decision: not to do so would invoke condemnation from the most righteous part of the media, such as Paul Dacre, the legendarily foul mouthed editor of the Daily Mail.
What is Nutt’s crime? To criticise the Government’s decision to reclassify cannabis from Class C back to Class B, and to state that classification of drugs was becoming politicised, which latter is a statement of the blindingly obvious. Here, if proof were needed, is an example of the inability of the establishment to engage in a grown up debate on a subject where grown up debate is sorely needed.
Thus we continue with a failed approach to the issue of drugs. Changing the Government will not improve matters: the Tories are stuck in the same rut as Labour.