Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 1 December 2008

Swiss way ahead of us on drugs

This article in the times today demonstrates to me how far behind the curve we are in this country when it comes to the laws around illegal drugs. Good on the Swiss for starting to grasp this very difficult nettle.

The "War on Drugs" has palpably failed and is easily demonstrated by just how many illegal drug users there are in the UK now compared to say 1970 when the existing laws came into force. TDPF has all the figures and it is well worth having a look through their site, especially the "Tools for the Debate" publication if this is a subject you are interested in.

People who are receptive to the idea of reform of the drugs laws are often portrayed as "Soft on Drugs" by the media and opportunist politicians but I very strongly feel that until we can debate this issue openly and honestly then the misery and crime that is a direct cause of the existing laws will continue to get worse.

Instead of fiddling with classifcations of cannabis and disseminating nonsense about TEH KILLER SKUNK 20 TIMES WORSE THAN 20 YEARS AGO bollocks, politicians and opinion formers should engage with a proper review of existing policy. Tony Blair used to advocate evidence based policy but in this area he (along with most politicians) seemed to have a blind spot.

Hopefully this latest Swiss change will provide further evidence of how things could be improved with a little imagination and a proper engagement with the issues.

Incidentally, the Swiss have a model whereby the people can force a referendum on an issue if enough people sign a petition. We of course do not have this system in our country. It is interesting that where this is possible, it appears that cosy consensus between the parties can be overridden by the people.

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