DRUGS ! IS IT TIME TO DECRIMINALISE?
THE HUB I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD WRITE
Let me say at the outset that I have no personal or professional knowledge about Drugs and this topic is brought about by purely subjective thoughts which may or may not have any real substance but which I put forward simply because I find my long held views completely overturned over recent times and which were underlined when viewing a TV programme last evening. Indeed had not my wife noticed the programme was set in the town of Worksop in the North East Midlands, then I would not be sending this out today for sure. The programme is called "COPPERS" and is the UK equivalent of the American "COPS". The basis is to follow real life Policemen on real life, everyday duties dealing with the problems that Society confronts them with. These are wide ranging and in this particular case dealt with issues such as, anti-social behaviour, neighbour disputes and drug abuse, misuse and dealing in this small town which for ages has nestled unnoticed in the heart of the English Midlands and which, if it had any claim to fame was that it fringes on the famous SHERWOOD FOREST, supposed home of the legendary ROBIN HOOD. He was the guy who formed a group to resist the unfairness imposed by wicked King and his area leader, the SHERRIF OF NOTTINGHAM. His aim was to take from the rich and give to the poor. In modern day WORKSOP, it seems that it is now the criminally rich who take from the poor by means of drugs and the addiction so many now have for them.
I should explain here that my interest in WORKSOP stems from the fact that from 1969 to 1990, I lived in the village of WHITWELL just 5 miles from what was then, a sleepy, quirky tow with a rambling High Street, a decent Market, a small Football and Cricket Club and not much else. In fact the sort of archetypal English Town that defines the country every bit as much as those big towns and cities that more people have heard of worldwide. A touch of old England perhaps, founded on Agriculture and developed by Industry, especially Coal Mining.
In 1984, the battles between Miners and Government saw the beginning of the end for Mining and left a void to be filled. Into this void eagerly stepped amongst others, those peddling Drugs to those and their children suddenly left of a compelling reason to get up in the morning.. Following the death of my father in 2001, one of his good friends beseeched me to not to return to the village, as it was not as I would remember it. That mix of agriculture and mining had gone with the pit closure and the youth were ,as a result, a lost tribe, effectively running wild. Both my sons had had the good sense to scarper before and now one lives in Sussex on the more refined part of the South Coast whilst the other lives in what I term a "sanitised " area of another Midlands town , namely Chesterfield. We live in darkest Essex, also in a "sanitised" area and as such are away from the main thrust of what seems now to have, tentacle like, ensnared great swathes of the country. It seems that the Drug Culture now controls the less salubrious areas of towns to an extent that I find frightening. This is not to say that the better off are immune from the ravages of Drug taking, far from it, but the biggest threat to the English way of life seems to be in the way in which the basic, formerly working class, now in many cases bereft of any reasonable job prospects have become entangled in a world based purely on escapism via drugs. I see no reasonable chance of that changing in the future, for now machines can do many of the jobs once undertaken by those who maybe were stronger in the arm than in the head That being the case, then, as with everything, if things do not alter they will stay the same.
Watching, the modern Policeman struggling to deal with the problems brought about by this sorry state of affairs would have revolted my father, an old time Copper himself. In his day the Police Force and Policemen were both respected and feared. Neither is true today and as the front line in the war on Drugs successive Governments have declared to win some tawdry votes, they are placed in a no win situation. Watching them entering homes to encounter total squalor and great danger from dirty and discarded needles, made me reach a firm conclusion on the problems they were attempting, on our behalf, to deal with.The policy and thus the Police are doomed to failure and the longer this exists, so will the spill over problems extend. With apologies to my father and the Police of his day, we need to change our approach.
DANGEROUS DAYS AHEAD.
It now seems clear to me that our current policy on Drugs is akin to the 1930"S American policy on Alcohol, namely prohibition. The, like our current drug policy ,was a failure. Even worse it spawned a raft of racketeers, who made fortunes by providing unlicensed and often, dubious quality offerings to a keen public. Again, the same is true today of the drug problem. Low life exploiters of human misery are making fortunes out of those who can least afford it and, in many cases feed their addiction with State Benefit Funds provided to cover their basic life needs because their brains are so addled and their addiction so strong that they know no better.I know they should but they do not and all the berating in the world will not alter that.
Now, we have in our country a very specialised Agency that seeks to ensure that the Pharmaceutical Industry is closely regulated and tested on the drugs it supplies to assist in dealing with illnesses etc. Terrific, so unless you are devoid of a brain and buy those products off the Internet, there is soundly based protection for the Consumer. However, that in no way encompasses the unlicensed drugs that are sold on street corners, waste land, pubs, etc on a daily basis. There is no regulation, so the criminal supplier can provide just what he or she likes and maybe even kill their client.
THE CONCEPT OF SEEKING TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM THEMSELVES HAS BEEN AROUND FOR AGES AND THOUGH IT PAINS ME TO REACH THIS CONCLUSION, I NOW BELIEVE THAT THIS IS WHAT WE MUST DO, IN A SENSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE WAY.
I now subscribe that, as we now have a whole raft of statistics regarding drug misuse etc that we should us them as a base for an experimental period of not less than 5 or more than 10 years to decriminalize and regulate drugs like cannabis, cocaine. heroin etc and establish licenced retail facilities for the purchase of the same. The immediate result of such a policy would be to drastically reduce the number of criminals involve and also lower the cost of the items, thus reducing associated crime, like burglary and shoplifting etc. Over the agreed period, statistics would be kept and compared to current ones, so that we would have something more solid than subjective opinion to determine policy at the end of the experiment.
Would it work? I can think of good reasons both for and against, but overall I favour it, for certainly, dark days lie ahead whatever happens and ,as stated earlier, if we do not alter our approach then they will inevitably stay as dark or get even darker in the future. Not the prospect I hope for my Grandchildren I must say.
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