Thursday, 16 December 2010

Quote of the day...

...has to go to Labour MP Bob Ainsworth - finally breaking away from his party's authoritarian nonsense on drugs;

I have argued this point numerous times before, most recently here, and so won't repeat myself. What I will say is that, whilst it is welcome that Ainsworth and others are starting to get the message, the dominance of the "right-thinking," reactionary position on this remains depressing.

This can be seen in the reaction to Ainsworth's comments today. Tory MP Andrew Griffiths insisted that "drugs cause crime and can devastate communities," and demanded that "Ed Balls and Ed Miliband must distance themselves from these dangerously out of touch comments." The Labour leader was only too happy to comply, branding the suggestion "irresponsible" and saying that "Bob's views do not reflect Ed's views, the party's view or indeed the view of the vast majority of the public."

However, as the Transform Drug Policy Foundation discovered;
In Transform's opinion the best piece of research into public opinion on drugs, specifically drug policy reform, is Russell Newcombe’s ‘Attitudes to Drug Policy and Drug Laws: A review of the international evidence’. It is a comprehensive and critical review of almost all the ‘public opinion on drugs’ surveys, domestic and international up to December 2004. It includes a useful summary of many of the concepts and terminology used in the drugs field.

document available here

Over the past decade there has been strong shift in public opinion in favour of drug policy reform. This shift has been most obvious regarding cannabis (see below). This reflects the considerable length of time that the cannabis legalisation debate has been in the mainstream. It should also be noted that this shift has taken place despite successive government’s reluctance to consider or debate the subject, or even call to for an independent inquiry. 
Bob Ainsworth is right, and those who support decriminalisation and legalisation are winning the argument. It is now a case of forcing the political class to realise this and bringing to an end a drug policy that is literally killing people.