An article published in The Independent on Tuesday 2nd October, warned readers that Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, were now the cheapest and purest globally than ‘at any time in last 20 years’. In the article, a report went on to suggest that perhaps it was time for the Government to take a different stance on tackling the epidemic of drug misuse.
The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, who published their report in the British Medical Journal Open said that it was time to switch from the normal stance of dealing with drug related issues as criminal offences, and start to see them as public health issues.
And one unlikely advocate for this new way of thinking, is none other than Lord Alan Sugar. Now when I first saw Lord Sugar’s tweet, advising his followers to check out his book for this and more future policy previews, I thought it was a crafty way of hanging a current news story onto a page or two of his latest book. And no offence, but what does Lord Sugar know about drug addiction anyway? Well, unless he’s not telling us something, very little I suspect.
But the man does know a thing about business, and this is where the logic applies. Selling drugs is all about repeat business. Get someone hooked and you have a customer for life who’ll do almost anything to get their next fix. And this is where the criminal aspect comes in. So if you legalise the buying process you immediately eliminate any criminal activity, and the issue becomes a matter for the health service, and not the criminal service.
Read how Lord Sugar puts it, I’m just paraphrasing his words.
Now the experts who wrote the report are stating a few points; that the prices of these drugs have fallen, the purity has risen and despite harsher sentences for drug offences, figures suggest that people who are involved in either the manufacture, transport or taking of drugs are not put off, and keep re-offending.
The co-author of the report, Dr Evan Wood, who is the scientific chairman of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, said: “We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue,” he added: “With the recognition that efforts to reduce drug supply are unlikely to be successful, there is a clear need to scale up addiction treatment and other strategies that can effectively reduce drug-related harm.”
And along with Lord Sugar, there are others who believe that you should switch the emphasis of drug related activities from a criminal offence to a health issue. In the UK, a senior police officer agreed that Class A drugs should be legalised, and that addicts should be “treated and cared for, not criminalised”.
He is not alone, as the Chief Constable of Durham Mike Barton called for a major review of how drug related offences are dealt with. He said that by legalising drugs the power would be taken out of the hands of the drug dealers, and handed back to the government.
But what do you think? Is it a risky policy to undertake and would it lead to more people becoming addicted if they had free access to drugs? Let us know your thoughts by using the comment box below.