A Royal Commission? – Far too risky for prohibitionists.

And so at last after a year or so of meetings, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) drugs inquiry was finally published last Monday. In the event it was probably worth a murmur of approval, if not half a cheer.

It’s fair to say that some of us weren’t that hopeful it would produce anything much, especially given the fact that it was chaired by Keith Vaz, not an MP known for his radical thinking or willingness to upset any apple carts. It was very noticeable throughout the whole inquiry that the 90-odd percent of the drug using population – those who are non-problematic recreational users – didn’t get so much as a look-in. From what I saw the only drug users who ever got considered were those who had an addiction or some other problem.

In September I attended a meeting of the HASC which was open to people who had submitted written evidence. In his opening remarks Keith Vaz listed all the problems “caused by drugs”, which were actually caused by the prohibition of them.

So we had an inquiry into the future of the drugs laws which failed to take into consideration the vast majority of the users and seemed based on a deliberate misunderstanding of the problem. So I wasn’t expecting it to come up with anything much worthwhile and on the whole I was right, it was a pretty bland report all in all. You can download the whole thing (called “Breaking the Cycle) here

But it wasn’t all bad, most importantly it recommend a Royal Commission to review the whole issue, specifically to look at other regimes and to study the effect of the recent legalistion of cannabis in some states of the USA and of course, this was far too much for the prohibition lobby, represented now by that former supporter of law reform David Cameron who vetoed it instantly, the Home Office trotting out the same old same old.

It really is depressing that a country like ours, so full of creativity and cultural vitality, gets leaders like Cameron but we do seem to make a habit of it. Cameron dismissed the report’s main findings instantly, there is no need for any review of prohibition apparently, everything is fine. Once again the British government’s position on drug law reform can be sumarised by “We’ve got our fingers in our ears and we’re not listening, lalala”.

But even as the HASC was proceeding, the ground was beginning to shift and in November the inflexible wall of prohibition received its first real crack with the states of Washington and Colorado voting for legal cannabis – not just for medical use but for people to enjoy using for pleasure. The thing the prohibition movement must surely have dreaded  finally happened and prohibition was actually voted down democratically, and not just anywhere but in the home of the drug war, the USA.

React the prohibitionists certainly have. the UN “International Narcotics Control Board”  – INCB was first off the blocks warning the US to enforce prohibition and to strike down these moves to legalise.

Mr. Yans stated that “these developments are in violation of the international drug control treaties, and pose a great threat to public health and the well-being of society far beyond those states”.

The US Drug Tsar Richard Gil Kerlikowske made it clear that there would be no change, (BBC Audio clip) but the state law duly came into being early December as thus far nothing has been heard from the US Federal government

Obama has stated they aren’t going to go after small time recreational users though so it does look like prohibition has taken its first big hit although quite where this will lead is anyone’s guess, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed  and cannabis law reform is now very much on the agenda all over South America. To coin a phrase from a different era, the dominoes are starting to fall.

Add to this a new campaign called Breaking the Taboo, launched on the back of a film of that name and it’s clear this whole debate isn’t going to get shut down as the prohibition lobby would like to see.

So what about us here in the UK? The HASC recommended a Royal Commission which will report in 2015, in time for our next general election and before the UN is due to review the drug war globally. So now is a really good time for a Royal Commission to sit in other words and David Cameron’s rejection of it is not only depressingly predictable, it’s actually not helpful in terms of formulating this country’s attitude to the UN review.

We have no idea what Labour thinks of it all, not a word has been uttered on the subject. Previously though Ed Milliband has shown himself to be aligned with Cameron’s lack of thinking so it looks like the British voter isn’t going to be offered a choice come the next election from either of these two parties.

The genie does seem to be out of the bottle though and the reaction in most of the media has been pretty hostile to Cameron’s foolishness. It’s no longer risky to speak out against the prohibition regime and more and more people are doing so. Even Sun readers voted overwhelmingly for a review of drug laws, something that was certainly never supposed to happen.

Into the mess comes Nick Clegg, the leader of the LibDems and deputy Prime Minister in the Con-Dem government. On Friday Nick Clegg actually made history by being the first ever serving minister to admit the war on drugs has failed and to call for a review. In doing this he has put a real distance between himself and David Cameron. It is just a pity that the LibDems are so reviled now, with support for them almost down to single figures they look very close to being wiped out come the next election. But it is possible that issues like this could provide hope for the millions of UK voters who are simply alienated by the mainstream parties and Clegg my yet pull a rabbit from his hat. Time will tell. One thing for certain though, the prohibs are mad as hell about it, as Peter Hitchens demonstrated

But this is a country where senior politicians (I know who they are, but cannot name them) have snorted cocaine in their adult lives, where the political, media and academic establishment is crammed full of former or present dope-smokers, and where the police themselves are broken defeatists in the face of drugs.

Such a Commission would undoubtedly be stuffed with the apostles of dope, as every single body has been that has considered the subject since Baroness Wootton’s original committee in 1968-69.

Away from the closed minds of people like Hitchens it’s interesting to note the argument being used in support of drug law reform is something I’ve always believed would be used by politicians who understand the need to climb out of the hole of prohibition. The case for reform is being used as an argument to crack down on drugs, to prevent use – especially by children – by offering treatment rather than punishment, which is fine except of course, 90 odd percent of users don’t need treatment. Those who support legalisation do so because they want proper control and regulation of the supply side, it”s all a long way from the liberalisation and a move to greater freedom as the “traditional” legalise cannabis campaign tried to argue, although of course it ends in the same place. This is a classic example of how politicians can do a U turn in policy whist saving face and that’s fine by me. It’s also, to be honest, the strong argument against the war on drugs.

What this past week has shown very clearly however is just how scared prohibition supporters are of any examination of the present policy. They have good reason to be scared because in truth it isn’t possible to moderate the war on drugs, prohibition is either all or nothing, especially when it comes to cannabis. How much longer can this madness continue? Time will tell.


UKCIA is a cannabis law reform site dedicated to ending the prohibition of cannabis. As an illegal drug, cannabis is not a controlled substance - it varies greatly in strength and purity, it's sold by unaccountable people from unknown venues with no over sight by the authorities. There is no recourse to the law for users and the most vulnerable are therefore placed at the greatest risk. There can be no measures such as age limits on sales and no way to properly monitor or study the trade, let alone introduce proper regulation. Cannabis must be legalised, as an illegal substance it is very dangerous to the users and society at large.

6 thoughts on “A Royal Commission? – Far too risky for prohibitionists.

  1. Well, in fact the Cannabis Prohibition is the greatest fraud of all time: the pernicious effects of this crime are myriad, extreme and ubiquitous. Lets assimilate that Prohibition is the direct cause of: WAR; CRIME; astronomical world energy, resource and food prices, with disastrous and homicidal corollary effects; world poverty; world famine; industrial and automotive emissions poisoning air; photochemical smog and acid rain; desertifications; the Greenhaouse effect, global warming and fatally catastrophic weather; and that RESTORATION is the immediate scientific solution.

    In short, the allegations of “harm” by which Cannabis has been prohibited are, by disinterested scientific scrutiny, not substantiated: the “harm” has been competently , comprehensively and consistently dismissed. The allegations are naught by figments. The unfounded “law” has always been false; the Prohibition is an ongoing fraud; all Cannabis related prosecutions of citizens are malicious.

    So what is the point of upholding this fraud?

  2. Whilst not wishing to be pedantic derek the first of our illustrious serving politicians to admit defeat in the WOD was Ken Clarke at the hasc whilst he was the minister of justice.

  3. @mahargsmith I stand corrected – and he was a minister at the time as well.

    Cleggy was the first to question the policy though, Ken didn’t do that, although he accepted it wasn’t working he still supported it and didn’t want to see change.

  4. Its Sadly Funny, Sarcastic in fact. A Prime Minister who ten years ago admited the “War”on Drugs “has” failed now claims Policy “Works”!Now!,?. For who?. We Know who. Vested interests. Old world, against new. Well Played Mr Branson. Billionaire admites its failed iv waited nearly 20 years for one off the circle too grow a pair, pardon my french, In fairness Mr Branson is new money,,,,
    No Royal Comm?.. Funny that, We know not, it would show what the D.E.A. head judge admited One off the most non toxic “Drug’s” Available on the black market….lol…
    Regulate Fine Fine fine enough Already
    Farmer Drought

  5. The claim that drug use is falling and hence policy is working fails to take into consideration the hordes of recreational drug users who now use legal highs and are subject to no police scrutiny whatsoever.These people many of whom are teenagers are being driven into the hands of amateur unregulated chemists.Drug use down? Policy working? I think not

  6. Google “Ken Clarke Tobacco” to see photos of the former Minister (and BATco agent) sucking hard (suckharding?) on some cig-ars. Guess whose Friends (Big Uknowwho) are interested in Negating/Nicoteeing cannabis legalization.

    Note use of code word “Dope” by Hitchens and others to fool unknowing teenagers into believing cannabis is some subcategory of opiate– or painkiller, depressant or stupifiant. (Nothing new, in West Berlin in the 1970’s if you were arrested on cannabis charges your court case would likely be written up under a number beginning with “Op-1-“– indicating paragraph #1 of the Opiumgesetz, because that was where prosecution of “hashish offenses” was to be pigeonholed.)

    Looks likely interest in studying “outcomes” in Washington, Colorado and Uruguay will keep building, so to secure positive results somebody should obtain commercial/industrial property there and develop a one-hitter headshop with attached factory space to make and to sell thousands of mini-toke kiseru, midwakh, sebsi etc. to Replace/Eliminate hot-burning monoxide “joints” and “blunts” which have produced notorious negative symptoms fallaciously attributed to cannabis use.

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