So two pieces of drug related news that are in need of noting. Firstly, there will be a year ban on ‘legal highs’ so that research into the harms of the drugs can take place. Secondly, the government is now considering the proposals to withdraw benefits from those who don’t take treatment.
Again, further piece meal reforms that do little to help the problems around drug use. These are deeply undermining and regressive drug policies that ignore the ever increasing body of scientific and intellectual (and real life examples) work of how well decriminalisation works!
Consider the Vienna Declaration – it is a perfect example of the growing decriminalisation movement. However, for some reason or another, the government like to run their drug policy on the fear of the media moral panic frenzy that erupts at the slight noise of drug decriminalisation. However, the evidence is clear, we shouldn’t treat drug abuse as a criminal offense, it is a medical condition. Furthermore, as many have pointed out before, only certain drugs are problematised, others – conveniently the ones which bring in a heap of revenue – are left relativity unscathed.
All this ban will do is drive the market further underground, result in an increase in harmful substances, and make the whole situation worse.
And now onto the withdrawing benefit idea. As many of the critics have pointed out, all this will do is drive people into things such as prostitution and crime in order to fuel their addictions. Only when the government realise that its own war on drugs is what is actually creating many of the problems, will real reform take place.
You can’t help but think that the government’s revival of the plans is also part of IDS’s attempts of wide-ranging cuts to get through his slim lining of the benefit system proposal.
Again, two rather illogical policies that will only seek to further undermine the existing help that drug abusers get (which is very poor as it is). It is about time that the government start listening to all the scientific evidence that they are always increasing the funding for.