Stupid, scared of the Daily Mail or corrupt?

Drug law reform activists have a problem, quite a serious problem. One of the assumptions UKCIA was based on, and more importantly groups such as Transform, is that governments make policy based on fact and evidence. Therefore, the logic went, all we really have to do to end prohibition is to promote a factual examination of the situation, look at the cost-benefits of prohibition compared to other possibilities and the truth would out.

Transform is especially worth mentioning in this respect, they have worked tirelessly over the years, commissioned report after report and gathered a great deal of evidence to support their case. UKCIA has done its bit as well, this site has never subscribed to the assumption that cannabis was harmless and has been willing to take the claimed risks seriously, but it hasn’t been difficult to point out how these dangers have been greatly enhanced by prohibition, if not actually caused directly by it.

What is far, far worse however is that it doesn’t matter which party is in power, the situation is always exactly the same. It’s not just that all governments are sympathetic to and promote the claims of the prohibition lobby – that would be bad enough – but increasingly they are unwilling to listen to anybody who suggests another way. Whatever the evidence presented or who presents it, or no matter what the suggestions for changes may be, the government will carry on doing what it’s doing come hell or high water. What we get instead of informed comments – even from senior ministers – is statements which are either little more than a belief at best, or totally wrong at worst (as with David Cameron’s comments to Aljazeera TV (youtube – skip forward to 10min 50 secs).

This can only be due to one of two things: Either governments are composed of utter idiots, or they are  corrupt and following an agenda for some unstated reason. Can it really be that the government is made up of total idiots? Sadly, that’s unlikely.

The latest example of the government ignoring expert advice came this week with the reaction to the comment from the ACMD (the government appointed experts who advise the government on drugs policy) to the effect that drugs should be decriminalised. This was contained in the ACMD comments to the 2010 drug strategy consultation paper and is actually a year old, having been issued in October 2010, but for some reason was made public only this week. Far from calling for any form of legalisation, the ACMD proposed how better to work drug prohibition so as to deter use and reduce harm. Their proposal was that

The ACMD believe that there is an opportunity to be more creative in dealing with those who have committed an offence by possession of drugs. For people found to be in possession of drugs (any) for personal use (and involved in no other criminal offences), they should not be processed through the criminal justice system but instead be diverted into drug education/awareness courses (as can happen now with speeding motor car offenders) or possibly other, more creative civil punishments (e.g. loss of driving licence or passport).

This is all covered in some detail on the excellent Transform blog.

It was was too off message for the government who responded in a depressingly familiar way, which was visualised neatly by Duncan Scott on twitter:

Home Office responce to the ACMD
Home Office responce to the ACMD

And summed up thus by Tom Chivers in that lefty leaning paper The Telegraph:

The Government: a bunch of chickens. I want to make this absolutely explicit: this Government is chicken. Buk-buk-bukaaaw chicken; yellow-bellied, lily-livered, chicken. Scaredy-cats. But not just this Government; the last one too. Absolute cowards. Fraidy little weaklings.

The reason for the scorn was the regurgitated statement from the Home Office which did nothing other than repeat the position on drug law reform – which is to say “no” to any idea of change.

“We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.

“Those caught in the cycle of dependency must be supported to live drug-free lives, but giving people a green light to possess drugs through decriminalisation is clearly not the answer.

“We are taking action through tough enforcement, both inland and abroad, alongside introducing temporary banning powers and robust treatment programmes that lead people into drug-free recovery.”

As Tom Chivers went on to explain, once his style had settled down a bit

I’ve gone on and on before, at length, about the arguments and evidence for a rethinking of the drug laws: that there is no evidence that prohibition lowers drug use; that there is evidence that prohibition increases drug harm and drug crime. In Portugal, there has even been a small drop in drug use among young people since decriminalisation. I know all this; the ACMD knows all this. The Government is chicken, because presumably it knows this too – knows it could save lives, and even better save money – but it won’t do the right thing, even though it is staring them in the face, because it can’t face the political fight.

Quite how the government can seriously justify this position now is far from clear; they certainly can’t claim the support of the experts they appointed to advise them, so what is their justification?  There has to be more to this than simply “being scared” of the political fight; the government can  cut back on essential services and invade countries without fear, even when two million people take to the streets in opposition to them and do much more besides. No, it’s not fear, it’s something else – either utter stupidity or corruption.

It is looking more and more like the only justification the government has that it can point to is the Daily Mail and one or two highly influential prohibition campaigners. The Daily Mail is well known for less than factual reporting on the cannabis issue, being perhaps the greatest supporter of the reefer madness claims over the past few years. However, this week it excelled itself by reprinting a piece written by Dr Robert Lefever.  This is what the Daily Mail try to pretend is an “opinion piece” – just the opinion of the writer, but in typical Mail style they allow the writer to present opinion as fact, even when the “facts” stated are simply wrong, but then truth is not something the Daily Mail often lets get in the way of a good story.

Dr Robert Lefever

Dr Lefever is the founding director of PROMIS recovery centre – a private drug rehab centre which, as he admits, is founded on radical ideas:

In 1986, I founded The PROMIS Recovery Centre, which pioneered and developed a new approach combining the benefits of several proven therapeutic models. The approach was so radical it was initially met with scepticism by the medical press. However,
word rapidly spread, through patients’ recommendations, that the PROMIS approach was miles ahead of anything else available. PROMIS quickly established itself as the only place to go.

Maybe. However Dr Lefever’s views on cannabis and the medical profession in general – judging from his writings in the Mail – are far from radical, “loopy” might be a better description. In the article entitled Even the Dutch think skunk drives you mad he wrote

Skunk is many times as powerful as the cannabis of twenty years ago. The plants have been genetically modified through selective in-breeding.

There is now twenty times as much tetra hydro cannabiol – the active chemical ingredient (THC) – as there used to be.

The Left tend to be against genetic modification, seeing it as a product of American commercialism. In this special case, however, they tend to see it as a liberal virtue, bringing freedom of expression – regardless of its incoherence – to the masses.

and how about this – talking about Gordon Brown’s decision (against expert advice) to reclassify cannabis back to class B

This liberalising  policy was reversed when doctors – who tend mostly to be Right-wing – pointed out that skunk is very dangerous psychiatrically. Its frequent use leads to an increased incidence of hospitalisation for psychotic breakdown.

Left-inclined politicians tend not to worry themselves over the damage that cannabis causes to mood, memory and motivation. These problems don’t cost the sacred NHS any money. Therefore the damage done to individuals can be ignored.

That this man should be allowed to spread such factually incorrect claims in a national news paper is bad enough, but when the government appears to base its policy on little more than such claims, we should all be very worried indeed.
There must be more to it than we are seeing, something is driving drug policy and it clearly isn’t expert lead rational, factual debate.


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.

13 thoughts on “Stupid, scared of the Daily Mail or corrupt?

  1. It looks like I shall go for the corrupt option, I have no doubt our Government are corrupt… The feeling is similar whoever I talk to, whatever walk of life a person comes from, there is a feeling of powerlessness with rising anger.

  2. I wonder what percentage of the Daily Mail 2 million readers:
    a) have used or continue to use drugs recreationally or otherwise, and SUPPORT decriminalization.
    b) have used or continue to use drugs recreationally or otherwise, but REJECT decriminalization.
    C) have never used drugs, but SUPPORT decriminalization

  3. Follow the money. This is all about special interest groups the alcohol industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the huge numbers employed in law enforcement, legal and prison services all either making a living out of cannabis prohibition or a potential loss of revenue if it is made legal.

    This seems to be much more coherent reason for the actions of Government rather than them just being stupid.

  4. Thanks to prohibition we have now lost all semblance of that once ordered, prosperous and safe society. Myself, along with many others, have been debating prohibitionists on this for many years. We have shown what destruction prohibition has wrought on all the civil institutions of this once great nation, -we’ve always provided facts and statistics – they, the prohibitionists, have countered with either lies, personal abuse or even serious threats of violence.

    Ending the insanity of drug prohibition by legalized regulation, respecting the rights of the responsible users and focusing on addiction as a sickness like we do with alcohol and tobacco may save what remains of our economy and civil institutions along with countless lives and livelihoods. Prohibition continues unabated for shameful political reasons. It cannot, and never will, reduce drug use or addiction.

    When we eventually manage to put the horrors of this toxic moronothon behind us, we’ll need to engage in some very deep and honest soul-searching as to what we want to be as a nation. Many of our freedoms have been severely circumscribed or lost altogether, our economy has been trashed and our international reputation for being “free and fair” has been dragged through a putrid sewer by vicious narrow-minded drug warrior zealots who are ignorant of abstract concepts such as truth, justice and decency. We’ll need to make sure that such a catastrophe is never ever repeated.

  5. This is a very good article; but I will have to disagree.

    I believe that in secret, most politicians know that the game is up, and that it would better for all of us if prohibition was a thing of the past.

    So they are not stupid, but nor do i believe they are corrupt either. A politicians job is to gather votes for their party. Right now, they dont think there is enough votes in this issue; and the hysteria of certain newspapers may confirm this opinion for them. But even if we were to get balanced reporting from the press, we still have an enormous amount of the general public that we do need to convince.

    Politicians maybe wrong, when they make the public statements that they do. But they are only trying to fall in line with what they believe is majority (socially conservative) public opinion.

    Until we demonstrate to them that they will pay a political price for the drug policy staus quo; they will continue to ignore the evidence.
    But once we have the public on board, and I am optimisitic we can achieve this, then the policticians will fall in line pretty quickly.

  6. Oh just for ease; where I say I disagree in my previous post, I only mean slightly disagree.

    I dont think there is titanic size gap between my position and that of Derek’s.

  7. Stupid, scared and corrupt would be incomplete without ‘hysterical’. Charles Mackay’s classic 1841 book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds” could add several new chapters that focus on the drug war as the topic.

    There really are people who believe the drug war accomplishes its stated goals, and they still believe its stated goals are its real goals. They can’t articulate any positive, lasting achievement of the drug war, but they believe in its effectiveness, nevertheless. I use the word ‘believe’ rather than ‘think’, because such people usually approach their world view through a delusional belief system, or one in which they rely upon their personal feelings, as opposed to thinking about the facts.

    A more basic question might be how does one go about civilizing a barbaric society, one in which the same totems have been worshipped for thousands of years, and where certain religious factions still promote a belief in witches.

    Technology alone certainly does not qualify a culture as civilized. It’s the leadership’s job to bring about civilization, but it’s also in the leadership’s best interest to keep a conflict afloat as a means of justifying its own existence as a ruthless arbitrator. The fact that the leadership needs to lie to justify their actions means they will do so. A culture will then emerge that attracts people to the political ranks who believe and act on their own hype. In this way, the drug war manages to produce, coddle and bring to power the very worst kinds of political leaders.

  8. I agree with Druidude when he says follow the money. We are told we live in a capitalist democracy but the reality is this system is a global oligarchy operating behind the facade of a sham democracy.

    The primary role of the corporate media and politics is to MANAGE PERCEPTION and to front the illusion of debate, choice and democracy. In reality we are all slaves to the consumerist-monetary gangbang and take our orders from the corporate/banking elites. And let it not be forgotten that none are more so enslaved than those who believe they are free.

    So – stupid, scared or corrupt? The answer is all 3. The hand that guides the Daily Mail is the same hand that dictates to the politicians, is the same hand that steers global banking, is the same hand that starts and financially backs all wars, is the same hand that marches the globe towards a one-world government and police-state.

    The 99% of the world is waking up to the fact they have been duped and enslaved by banking elites for centuries. Drug policy is perhaps the most effective prism through which one can behold the true nature of our ruling masters.

  9. How refreshing to read a well articulated article on this issue. The question why is this illegal has been discussed amongst pot smokers since 1928. My opinion is pretty much covered by servetus and real frank. I believe that the weight of numbers will start to be inescapable for the politicians and reform will happen when one of the major three partys has the balls to adopt it. If like me you long for the day when you can select your weed like a bottle of wine from the local shop then just keep smoking and stay united. They can’t ignore a million plus people forever.

  10. Also, I think that this government does whatever the american government does or tell them to do, so watch what is going on in america, and I bet you that it will happen here following. There was a time when politicians had courage. I think that now, they only look after their own interest. and guess where that comes from?

  11. Thanks fabriceb for saying that, and “their own interest” comes from: $$$ from PACs– does that sound like a container $igarettes come in?– whence cometh their reelection.

    Check out the $igarette company donations to campaign fund of John “two gunshots from the Presidency” Boehner, and the presence on his Advisory Council of Bruce Gates (Philip Morris) and John H. Fish (R. J. Reynolds). b
    (And if the donation figure seems small, probably the SALARIES of those two law-buy-ists add up to many times more.)

    The United States and its/their Monster Military budget to control the world are stooge zombie agents of the worldwide Nicotine Addiction racket based on hot burning overdose $igarettes which will be history when everybody has learnt to serve 25-mg single tokes of cannabis, tobacco or any herb in a screened one-hitter.

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