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It was good to hear Vince recently confirm his whole-hearted support for our policy of legalising cannabis. I also fully support the policy, which is actually quite a “baby step” when you consider the plethora of drugs readily available today – with more becoming available (including via the internet to one’s postbox) by the day.
I do think we need to be careful not to portray the cannabis policy as a black and white “cure all”. The whole area of drugs is extraordinarily complex. There are no quick fixes/easy answers. We must continue to listen to professionals who deal with drug abuse day in, day out. Some do indeed support the legalisation (I prefer to call it “regulation”) of cannabis. They include the panel of experts who wrote the report considered by conference last year. But I have also heard professionals who do not support the policy.
There is one point on which we need to have a ready answer. I would welcome views on this. That is, if legalisation of a drug such as cannabis is such a good idea then how come the drugs that are the biggest killers and the costliest for society – by a country mile – are actually legal and highly regulated, and have been for centuries?
I refer, of course, to alcohol and nicotine.
And I am very sorry, but it is no good our answer being – oh, that is alcohol, that is tobacco (nicotine) – they are different. Of course they are not. They are mind-altering drugs. They are (particularly alcohol) packaged up in the most seductive and socially “accepted” ways but they are our biggest drug killers.
So if both alcohol and nicotine have been legal and highly regulated for centuries, and yet cause far, far more damage (in terms of deaths and the costs to society) than all the other drugs put together, then how the heck is legalising cannabis going to make much difference? In fact, based on the track record of legal alcohol and nicotine, could it not well make things worse?
…And I apologise for being very devil’s advocatey at the end, there.