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Isabelle Kinsey, UK
"Decriminalisation is an appalling idea"
 real 28k

Pete Nicholson, Spain
"We need honest education"
 real 28k

Alan Dronkerrs, Netherlands
"Making drugs illegal endangers the public health"
 real 28k

Pat Rogers, US
"Addicts should be treated by doctors and hospitals not police and prisons"
 real 28k

Milton Rodriguez, Portugal
"There are a lot of people benefiting from the drug trade"
 real 28k

Dr Mowala, UK
"The answer is in educating and rebuilding family relationships"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 June, 2000, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Illegal drugs: what can be done?

Year after year, the supply of illegal drugs around the world grows, despite billions of dollars being spent on the problem.

An increasing number of people are coming to the conclusion that this so-called "war on drugs" has been lost and that other options need to be explored.

Is the current drug-control effort a waste of money and lives? Are there any alternative options?

Select the link below to watch and listen to Talking Point On Air

  • Read your comments since the programme
  • Read your comments during the programme
  • Read what you said before we went ON AIR


    Your comments since the programme

    So-called primitive societies incorporated various drugs into cultural events, usually ceremonies or "talks with spirits". They did not have a drug problem.
    Jessica Higgins, Larnaca, Cyprus


    Let us focus our police forces on stopping rapists, murderers, and thieves and let otherwise law-abiding citizens go

    Ryan, Columbus, USA
    I believe it simply comes down to freedom. The role of the government is to protect the rights of individuals. A crime is committed when one person infringes on another's rights. Any individual should have the right to make a decision regarding their personal drug use as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others (i.e. steal or kill for drugs). Let us focus our police forces on stopping rapists, murderers, and thieves and let otherwise law-abiding citizens go.
    Ryan, Columbus, USA

    There is no drug that affects people's mental and physical health more profoundly than alcohol. If you drink alcohol and you are condemning illicit drug use, be aware that the same criticisms could be levelled at you.
    Al, Leeds, UK


    In my opinion, happy well-adjusted individuals do not need to lose themselves in a chemical oblivion

    Sarah Pollard, Weston-Super-Mare
    I have worked with many drug addicts - all of whom have a story to tell about abusive childhoods. In my opinion, happy well-adjusted individuals do not need to lose themselves in a chemical oblivion. Sure, recreational drug use has a time and a place but the hardened addicts are a product of an abusive upbringing.
    Sarah Pollard, Weston-Super-Mare

    Just think how much money the Government would make if it openly imported and taxed cocaine. This may seem a flippant statement but not only would the Government benefit financially from the legalisation of drugs, it would also be of benefit to the users as they could buy safe in the knowledge that they were getting the drug and the quantity that they paid for.
    Jenny, Bristol, UK


    One must understand that alcohol, caffeine and tobacco must be considered as drugs as well.

    Tim Davidson, Seattle, USA
    One must understand that alcohol, caffeine and tobacco must be considered as drugs as well. Just because we tolerate the use of these products doesn't mean they are any less addictive. I say stop spending the billions of dollars and make everything available or make nothing legal.
    Tim Davidson, Seattle, USA

    There is need for co-ordinated effort world wide to stop the use of illegal drugs. Rather than taking a punitive stance; governments can educate, rehabilitate and persuade offenders to dissuade from using illegal drugs. Giving up does not seem to be the right move. I am sure it is not too difficult to imagine what the consequences of legalising some drugs would be.
    Peter Kandare, Birmingham, UK

    Criminalisation is essential to the polity of the USA. It enables the disenfranchisement of minorities and of the progressive section of the white population.
    Chris, USA

    People want to use drugs. If the drugs are harmful then they are only harming themselves. The government should concentrate on catching the murderers and rapists. Quit wasting time on someone having a fly joint and do something useful.
    Tommy Duffin, Glasgow, Scotland


    Amsterdam has a limited de-criminalisation of soft drugs, this policy has meant that drugs and drug culture is much more "in your face".

    Christian J. DeFeo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Amsterdam has a limited de-criminalisation of soft drugs. While the authorities claim that the number of junkies has not increased since the 1970's, the policy has meant that drugs and drug culture is much more "in your face". It means that if you have children, that you have to instruct them to avoid the cannabis flavour lollypops - and try to explain that the hippies smoking dope at Centraal Station are not to be emulated.
    Christian J. DeFeo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Denis Lim has the solution to all the drug problems in every country - simply execute users and dealers and there you go - problem solved. Fortunately for the rest of us, most countries avoid such barbaric and medieval punishments.
    Marc Dauncey, London, UK


    Here in Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia, death and heavy jail terms have kept the drug problem in check

    Denis Lim, Singapore
    Decriminalisation of drugs is not the solution but merely an excuse to tolerate, what is clearly, a serious problem. People who feel that it's the only way are deluding themselves into thinking the problem will go away. Western societies have gone soft by not advocating stringent and severe punishment for the distribution, possession and use of hard and soft drugs.

    Here in Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia, death and heavy jail terms have kept the drug problem in check. Sure, there are drug addicts but if you know you face possible death for possession, you'll definitely stay away from anything remotely connected with drugs. If this sounds draconian, it is the price to pay for safe streets and society, in general, not having to foot the bill.
    Denis Lim, Singapore

    Just a word of thanks to the BBC and all of the participants for airing the programme. There are no easy answers to the drug issue, but by listening to everyone's comments - both informed and uninformed - it has helped listeners understand the basic choices and reach intelligent conclusions.
    Max Gordon Lee, Grenoble, France

    The war against illegal drugs should be from all angles. The producers or growers are mainly poor peasant farmers who have no better means of survival than growing these drugs. The richer countries must help to close the gap between the rich and the poor on this globe.
    George , New York City, USA.

    I cannot understand how our Government continuously claims that we live in a free country when the wishes of the people are so often blatantly ignored. People want to use drugs, period. Why can't a Government that was created by the people, for the people respect that and work towards a solution that doesn't end up with the largest percentage of the population behind bars in the modern world?
    Chris, Los Angeles, USA


    The drugs war is giving huge money and power to organised criminals, failing to protect the young from predatory drug dealers, and causing widespread corruption

    Dave Green, London
    In the last 10 years America has spent over $300bn on the drugs war, yet in that period the quantity of drugs on the streets doubled, the quality got better and the price halved. Since Holland relaxed its laws on drugs, the average age of Heroin addicts has gone from 26 to 36, indicating that fewer people are becoming addicts. The drugs war is giving huge money and power to organised criminals, failing to protect the young from predatory drug dealers, and causing widespread corruption. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that legalising drugs will not result in an increase of drug abuse. Let's try and find an approach that works.
    Dave Green, London

    Anyone who dies from a drug overdose dies because it is illegal. On the black market there is no quality control. Drug dealers are not reputable people. If the governments took the drug sales out of the hands of these people, and gave it to responsible bodies, then there would be no deaths. Most of the damage caused by drugs is caused by 'the drug war'.
    Stu Waddell, Edinburgh, UK


    The present drug policy is a ticking timebomb

    Maarten Thiry, leuven, Belgium
    The question is not whether or not we should abandon the war on drugs - a war can be fought in many ways. I assume no one chooses the American situation where 90 % of the prisoners are people who're convicted for drug abuse, most of whom are just persisting users or small dealers. What are we going to do when these people get out of prison in 5 or 10 years? Most of them won't be able to find decent jobs, so, in my opinion, the present drug policy is a ticking timebomb. Prevention is the key solution. Unfortunately, it's just easier to stuff our prisons with drug abusers than to develop a constructive prevention policy.
    Maarten Thiry, leuven, Belgium

    I think there is a whole side of the drug issue which you have not considered. The huge profits made from drugs trafficking that find their way into financing politics around the world and influence the politicians who sometimes turn out to be policy makers. Desmond, Accra,Ghana. In this day and age where man is advancing into a new modern "world" technologically as well as sociologically, why do we still need to be dependant on a drug?
    John Cadbury, Bournville, UK

    The current stringent laws in our region targets at the traffickers and dealers amounting to death for drug offences. However, more needs to be done at the source of the production, i.e. from the poppy fields in Laos, Burma, Afghanistan and the coca plantations in Columbia, Venezuala to the backstreets of Philippines concocting Ecstacy pills. Most times, it is driven more by economics.
    Robert Lim


    If anyone is losing the war against the drugs, it is the parents.

    Bharat Bhushan (From India, in Germany)
    My eldest brother took drugs (both hard and soft) for about 15 years, and it was for my parents' persistent effort (love and care) that my brother was able to kick his habit. If anyone is losing the war against the drugs, it is the parents.
    Bharat Bhushan (From India, in Germany)

    Your comments during the programme


    The futility of drug prohibition and making jailbirds out of otherwise non-criminals should be obvious to all except the vested interests in the drug trade and the pious

    Ben Furby, Australia
    A friend who studies history tells me that after 60 years people forget the experiences of the past. What about the lesson of Prohibition in the USA? It corrupted the judiciary, the police and politicians. If heroin and cocaine were available from the pharmacists at, say, $5 a hit, there would be no money for pushers in persuading children to become users, because there would be no profit to them. There would less mugging and burglary, and girls (and boys) becoming prostitutes to feed their habits. The drugs would not be contaminated and dangerous.
    Ben Furby, Australia

    As with most things in life, the most practical solution is in a trade-off between the extremes. I believe that having a government-regulated market of soft and hard drugs will price socially unfavourable suppliers out of the market. This approach should be accompanied by vivid anti-drug propaganda, powerful police enforcement of regulation, and increased spending on efficient hazard reduction projects (such as shooting clinics). In time this will reduce the market power of drug barons and decrease the social and health risk of drug use.
    Tim Wong from Australia

    I am a Scotsman currently living in the Caribbean. I must say that the incidence of drug use here is very high and very open. Even the general police attitude to the problem is very lax and I find it disturbing how acceptable drugs have become. I find it bizarre that individual users are rarely targeted as this is effectively the demand side of the drugs market, and like any market if you diminish demand you will diminish the supply.

    A gentleman earlier in your program talked of the unlikely theory that starting on cannabis etc leads to the use of harder drugs. So it must have been this unlikely theory that caused my cousin to die of a heroin overdose a few weeks ago, when I last saw him a few years ago he was a cannabis user.
    Fraser Barrons, Caribbean

    I'm sympathetic to casual users of cannibis, and don't feel people should be arrested for using it casually. Yet the comparison with alcohol is misleading: while alcohol can be a much more destructive drug, it is not always used as a drug. Cannabis is always used as a drug.
    Doug Jillings, Antwerp Belgium


    The law is a heavy, blunt instrument that is totally inappropriate to reduce and stop people's drug habits.

    Christian Kent Sydney, Australia
    The law is a heavy, blunt instrument that is totally inappropriate to reduce and stop people's drug habits.
    Christian Kent Sydney, Australia

    As I consider the war on drugs to have failed let us at least try and see if legalisation helps the problem by spending the money freed up to educate and treat those that are addicted.
    Roy Culley, Switzerland

    Drugs have always been with us and always will be. Tribal societies have always initiated their members into their usage. We need to find ways to do the same. Laws stopping ordinary people from doing what they want to do have always been predestined to failure. Prohibition in America is the perfect example of this. A way forward is to legalise all drugs and then develop the modern equivalent of initiation rites - education programmes - which, in time, will develop a mature attitude to drugs.
    Stephen Frank, London

    If you go down to your local Hospital this Friday night I wonder how many patients there will be suffering from the results of excessive cannabis intake? How many fights in pubs are started by cannabis users? How many people have died from their long term addiction to Cannabis? I have used this drug for over 20 years and hold a responsible position in a medium-sized engineering company where I have worked for the past 15 years. I don't drink much alcohol as I have seen first hand the damage it can do. Unless we want to turn our country into a police state I see no sensible alternative other than de-criminalisation.
    Trevor, Colchester,Essex

    To me there is a remarkable similarity between drugs and alcohol. Both are abused, and both have their uses. I ask, who benefits from the fact that certain drugs are illegal to use or posses? There is no doubt in my mind, that only the criminal element benefit from the illegal status of the substances that people want, and will still obtain by fair or foul means.
    Rudolph Wragg, Visitor to Chicago USA


    In the US, the so-called war on drugs is really a war on minorities and the poor

    Jeff Granger, US
    In the US, the so-called war on drugs is really a war on minorities and the poor. The number of blacks in particular who are imprisoned on drug charges is wildly disproportionate to the population in general. The war on drugs is an utter failure, as we should have learned during the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920's and 30's. All we have done is to create the most lucrative criminal enterprises in history.
    Jeff Granger Chicago, Illinois, US

    How is the war on drugs different than the era of Prohibition in the US after World War I? It too failed miserably. Non-harmful drugs such as marijuana should be legalised.
    Mr. Domonic Bridgeport, Connecticut

    The drug war was lost even before it was started. You cannot change the human character by any ban or enforcement. The leaders should finally admit the reality and try to control it and stop producing counterproductive prohibitions or bans.
    Mikko Toivonen, Finland


    Criminalisation of recreational drug use is an added health risk for the users

    John, Canada
    Criminalisation of recreational drug use is a make-work project for law enforcement and administration agencies; a make-rich project for the drug barons; an added health risk for the users; a posturing ground for the politicians.
    John, Canada

    Your comments before the programme


    The most dangerous message we can send out to children, is that all drugs are equally dangerous

    Dave Watson, UK
    Legalise cannabis, and add a heavy duty, (similar to that of cigarettes), and use that to help fund more police to tackle the real 'dangerous drugs'. The most dangerous message we can send out to children, is that all drugs are equally dangerous.
    Dave Watson, UK

    In many western countries, there has been a policy to tolerate possession of so called 'soft-drugs'. This has only increased the appetite for 'harder drugs' and so demand has risen to unprecedented levels. The only solution is, 'Zero tolerance' to any kind of addictive drugs. There is no point in blaming the third world countries of growing the drugs. Only minimising demand will solve the problem.
    Don, Harrow, UK

    Hard drugs have no place in a civilised society. They destroy lives, they can kill directly, and there are no positive effects of taking them whatsoever, so they should remain illegal. I appreciate the money flowing into organised crime as a result of this policy, but this does not outweigh the dangers faced to society by the alternative.
    Steve, UK

    By all 'standard' measures, I am a fully integrated constructive citizen: I am a university professor with a stable and quite successful career, married, two young happy kids, a stable social network, and so on. Alas I am a criminal, because for the past 28 years I have been a regular user of Marihuana and Hashish. I like these substances, I find them to be a great way for relaxation, clear stimulants of peaceful and friendly orientation, and more often than not, inspirational. What else can be done to stop THE hypocrisy of the 20th century?
    Ronen Shamir, Tel Aviv Israel

    There is a country that successfully solved the illegal drugs problem. Now it is a safe place to live and bring up children. Why doesn't Western world learn from Singapore?
    Alexei Mikhailov, Russia

    In a free society, at what point does the government have the right to make something illegal because it is bad for you? Can the government ban tobacco, alcohol, Big Macs? I wish a serious discussion of the basis of our current laws were part of the public discourse.
    Steve Knoll, Pacific Grove CA, USA

    It is a common misconception that China, Korea and Japan do not have a drug problem. China has 490,000 heroin addicts as acknowledged by the Chinese government recently in a Reuters article about the American drug czar's visit to China. Japan and Korea have many people that use amphetamines. Draconian measures and denial do not make for a sensible drug policy. We really should stop scape-goating and demonising people for ingesting substances deemed not respectable or criminal.
    Nick Bell, USA

    Most people here are thinking uni-dimensionally - legalise or not. This is exactly the sort of short-term, quick-fix attitude that pervades modern society and is responsible for most of our problems. We need to take a more holistic view, which includes an objective inquiry into the true nature of the problem. We need to answer questions like what are the true costs and benefits of individual drugs, why people take drugs, and what is the effect of the whole of the environment on this problem? The solution is likely to be far more wide-ranging than a simplistic decision on whether to legalise or not.
    Phil, Wales


    The Government's pronouncements on the "drug problem" show that it is not only out of touch with the reality of drug use in the UK today, but that its attempts to prevent people buying and using drugs are doomed to failure.

    Philip Whitchelo, UK
    When Tony Blair, self-confessed computer-illiterate, recently said "Computers have passed me by and that's true of a lot of people of my generation", he could equally as well have substituted the word "Drugs" for "Computers". The Government's pronouncements on the "drug problem" show that it is not only bewilderingly out of touch with the reality of drug use in the UK today, but that its attempts to prevent people buying and using drugs are doomed to failure. Drugs are used by millions of ordinary, working people, mostly at weekends, who regard drug taking as no more unusual than drinking, smoking or having sex. The portrayal by the Government of the average drug user as an out-of-work menace mugging old ladies to buy his next fix is ridiculous.

    Demand for drugs is buoyant, so in a market economy criminalising the product doesn't reduce use but, increases cost and lowers quality - thus reinforcing criminal control over the industry and increasing the health dangers for drug users. The Government should be working to achieve control over the industry a) to ensure that drug producers have to adhere to the same standards of safety and quality for their products as food and drink manufacturers and b) to benefit from the tax revenues. Margaret Thatcher once said "You can't buck the market" and this Government will not rewrite the laws of economics. At no time in history has demand for any product been reduced by constraining its supply.
    Philip Whitchelo, London, UK

    Ethically, the idea of punishing people for using drugs is hard to justify. The ironic consequence is that drug cartels and abusive groups become empowered. The fear of decriminalisation is that mass addiction and social strife would result. I see a possible upsurge in street crime, if drug dealers lost their income, as a more probable down side. On the other hand, the 'war on drugs' is a waste of resources with no benefit to society but rather, is an enabling factor to criminal activity. Decriminalisation of all drugs is the only humane and sensible course to take.
    Henry San Francisco, CA


    The current legislation is at best irrelevant and at worst alienates people - reducing their respect for the legal system

    Adam Harrison, UK
    With a small but very significant proportion of the UK population regularly taking cannabis and ecstasy for recreational use, the current legislation is at best irrelevant and at worst alienates people - reducing people's respect for the legal system. We should recognise and respect the right of adults to make their own mistakes, providing they do not hurt others.
    Adam Harrison, Chelmsford, UK

    Illegal drugs should simply be legalised. People will always do the drugs they are going to do - why not eliminate the crime, the violence, the overinflated pricing by making them available through the state? Then, drugs can be a source of tax for the government, which could be ploughed into education and additionally the 'taboo factor' will be removed, making hard drug use less attractive to younger people.
    Sheena, UK


    If you want to control drugs they must be legalised.

    Vic Jackson, UK
    I live in an area that was once the leader in the trafficking of heroin. The menace has been controlled to some extent but the fallout has started appearing in the shape of the locals getting on the poison. I believe the statement that US is spending billions to stem the rot is an exaggerated account of only mediocre efforts.
    nasser khan, peshawar,pakistan


    As an 18 year old living in inner city London, I have seen the disastrous effects "soft" drugs have on youngsters

    Hamza, London, England
    As an 18 year old living in inner-city London, I have seen the disastrous effects "soft" drugs have on youngsters. If governments truly wanted to make a difference, then they would prosecute the "celebrities" who have admitted publicly to continuous drug abuse, yet are allowed to go into rehabilitation/detox centres, leave, and carry on with their lives.
    Hamza, London, England

    People are going to take drugs whether they are legal or illegal. Remove the main bad element from them - the underworld they come from. Educate people on the effects, both good and bad, and then allow them to make the choice for themselves. Make it possible for them to obtain their chosen "high" from respectable businesses. The money made can then be put back into educating the people and helping the people who want to quit. Stop the money going to the scum who are running the market at the moment!
    Chris, Dublin


    The war on soft drugs is a foolish waste of public resources

    Keith Cuiper, Minneapolis, USA
    The war on soft drugs is a foolish waste of public resources. Our jails are filled with people convicted of soft drug offences. We should take a lesson from progressive Holland and concentrate our already strained resources on education, not more prisons for pot.
    Keith Cuiper, Minneapolis, USA

    The current policy has served organised crime and international terrorism extremely well over the years. We in the West are providing the Taleban with their funding from opium. We fund the destabilisation of most of Central America and Mexico.

    Thousands of people are in prison for non-violent drug crimes with long sentences. All this just to keep people from smoking a weed or snorting a powder and the saddest part is that anybody who wants to use drugs can and will still do so.
    Greg, USA

    It is a waste of time and resources! People turn to drugs when their direct environment doesn't stimulate their inner qualities and intelligence. They surround themselves with addictions instead. Repression is useless, prevention is the key. By offering a better environment in which each of us can develop to our true potential we will prevent people from running away from reality.
    Valerie, London

    To me the benefits of smoking cannabis outweigh the supposed damage that can be caused from it, and I certainly believe that it is a lot less harmful than alcohol. If alcohol hadn't been discovered and tomorrow someone brought it on the scene then it would almost certainly be considered an illegal substance.
    Mark, Newbury


    My own occasional use of hard drugs such as LSD and amphetamines stemmed purely from my contact with people selling cannabis illegally

    Mike, UK
    We have all been told at some point that soft drugs lead to hard drugs. I agree that this is the case. My own occasional use of hard drugs such as LSD and amphetamines stemmed purely from my contact with people selling cannabis illegally. If I had not had to cross the line into criminal activity to buy cannabis (which I would have done regardless of any legal issues) then I would not have come into contact with people selling stronger substances.
    Mike, UK

    The answer to the drug problem is to increase surveillance of the people and organisations that are bringing the stuff into the country. Drug dealers should be shot or hanged as soon as they are caught. Anybody caught with illegal drugs in their possession should be in jail for one year, or doing supervised community service and tested routinely for traces of drugs.
    Dave Adams, USA

    Criminalisation doesn't work - remember Prohibition in the United States? Make all drugs legal, and several things happen. Firstly, crime is taken out of the equation. Secondly, proper standards can be applied to the quality of the drugs. Thirdly, drugs will automatically become uncool. Would teenagers take Ecstasy if they could buy it in Boots?
    Peter, UK

    I personally feel that selling drugs is a greater crime than terrorism. In terrorism you end up in killing humans but in drug marketing you are killing humanity.
    Prasad M. Kothare, Mumbai, India


    Decriminalisation is just "throwing in the towel". Do we stop trying just because we think we can't win?

    Isabelle, Brighton, England
    I have been a worker in the drug and alcohol field for over 13 years, and have witnessed at first hand the deaths, misery and disruption to the life of the user, family, friends, and the increasing violence, crime and disintegration of the community where this occurs. Decriminalisation is just "throwing in the towel". Do we stop trying just because we think we can't win?
    Isabelle, Brighton, England

    Tobacco and alcohol are legal, but look at the huge amount of smuggling that goes on there. Legalisation and taxation really are not the solution.
    Chis, England

    Stop glamorising the celebrities who use drugs and start convincing people they are bad. That will decrease the use of drugs.
    Richard T. Ketchum, Moberly, USA

    I am amazed at the number of people who think that the only solution is decriminalisation. I believe that it is the attitude of these people which is mostly to blame. They have created a tolerant society where it is okay to try drugs, in fact it is almost expected of you to try. Legalising cannabis would be like opening Pandora's box. No one knows exactly what would happen.
    Chris, Camberley, England


    The wisest thing to do would be to legalise them. This way at least, we could get rid of the underworld that has sprang from its distribution.

    Romeo Flores, Mexico
    The consumption of drugs continues to increase despite the efforts of governments to halt the distribution and production of such products. Drug addiction, which was primarily a first world problem is now an enormous problem in the third world as well. Many attempts to eradicate the problem have been proposed and implemented, like increasing border check-points and trying to educate the youth of the effects of drug abuse. But despite these efforts, the problem remains. People still see in drugs and in alcohol an escape to the problems of every day living. The wisest thing to do would be to legalise them. This way at least, we could get rid of the underworld that has sprang from its distribution.
    Romeo Flores, Mexico

    Decriminalise cannabis and educate truthfully about hard drugs. Let a well-educated population make their own decisions, and drug use WILL decline. Lets get our heads out of the sand and use police funding for true crime (i.e. murder, rape, white-collar crime).
    Chris, California


    Let's face it. This War On Drugs is ludicrous, and was lost years ago - you can't make something that grows out of the ground illegal!

    Dave Strong, UK
    I have to agree with quite a few of the people here - the only answer is to legalise all illicit drugs. Taking this simple step will dissipate the sleazy glamour that drugs presently hold, so that future generations won't be so in thrall to the culture that surrounds them. It would also immediately eliminate the vast profits that are being made by dealers, pushers and drug barons the world over. If the current governmental hard-line, no-compromise stance remains in place then this problem is just going to run and run, and become a lot worse. You're never going to stop people taking recreational drugs whilst their attractiveness is mired in the fact that the establishment hate them. Feeling rebellious in these bland, consumerist times of ours is a rare pleasure, and illicit drug-use is probably the biggest taboo left that affords people that feeling. Destroy the taboo and after a few years this problem will be greatly reduced. Let's face it. This War On Drugs is ludicrous, and was lost years ago - you can't make something that grows out of the ground illegal!
    Dave Strong, UK

    Drugs always have been and always will be around. Education is most important and also honesty. But to think we can either control or stamp out drugs "use/misuse" is blinked.
    Chris C, UK


    Why don't any of you look at countries like Korea, Japan, China or Taiwan where there is virtually no drug problems whatsoever.

    Matthew Walker, Australia
    All these comments about legalising drugs is exactly the reason why the west has such a huge drug problem. Why don't any of you look at countries like Korea, Japan, China or Taiwan where there is virtually no drug problems whatsoever. The problem is due to the drug culture coupled with extremely slack legal systems. I know which country I'd rather have my kids grow up in.
    Matthew Walker, Australia

    Legalise cannabis - for medical reasons if nothing else. I am a sufferer of MS and cannot begin to tell you that it works wonders. I would not like to be categorised as a "hard" drug user - but for medical reasons it is the only way forward to stop the pain and agony on families having to live with MS sufferers like me!
    Victor, UK

    Stop the wishful thinking about legalisation - reversal of existing policies on the drugs trade cannot be undertaken unilaterally by Britain while she remains a member of the EU. Nor are British governments likely to break ranks with our partners in international drug control regimes.
    Henry Case, Oxford, UK


    At least if you were to legalise drugs you would know exactly what you're getting, making the inevitable use of drugs safer.

    Elise Thoms, Canada
    One of the major problems with the drug trade being illegal is that, it is in the best interest of the people who are selling the drugs to add unknown substances to them, so to make the drugs more addictive. At least if you were to legalise drugs you would know exactly what you're getting, making the inevitable use of drugs safer.
    Elise Thoms, Newfoundland, Canada

    Let's go back to basics. Why are drugs illegal? Simply because they have the capacity to make victims of people; thus controlling the judgement of those who could otherwise be making rational decisions as fully functioning members of society. Would anyone really want to brave the motorway traffic if all drivers were known to be legally stoned out of their heads?
    R. V. Prooyen, Melbourne, Australia

    Although there are a lot of drugs, soft and hard, classed as illegal, mainly for reasons long forgotten or jaded, legalisation is perhaps the only way to treat the problem of drug addiction and more importantly, irresponsible drug use. Facing up to the facts is a difficult step, and should start with the half-truths and false rumours about drugs, on both the side of the users and government, being clarified by frank reports, possibly by the BMA. Because, to legalise drugs, we must first be educated in the positive and negative aspects of their use.
    Gareth, Sheffield, UK

    A weed is a plant in the wrong place - an illegal drug is not so dissimilar.
    Bertie Somme, UK


    Protection of the public and prohibition are mutually exclusive

    Paul B, London, UK
    If the authorities really want to protect the public then they must legalise - not decriminalise - all recreational drugs. If the authorities do not do that then we must ask what is the real motivation behind the West's current drug policies? Protection of the public and prohibition are mutually exclusive.
    Paul B, London, UK

    I work for a small company in London (50 employees) and estimate that over half of the employees smoke cannabis on a fairly regular basis. Of these, the vast majority would smoke only occasionally at the weekends. However, I am unaware of a single person involved in anything stronger than cannabis. Surely it's time to decriminalise cannabis and target valuable resources towards "harder" drugs?
    Dave Jones, UK

    Looking back at the almost total failure of drug enforcement agencies these past 20/ 30 years, I must draw one sad conclusion that present policy favours only two groups, namely the agencies themselves and all those trading in drugs. The rest of us either directly or indirectly pay the price.
    Allen Minitzer, Ra'anana, Israel

    Here's a solution. Legalise cannabis. Once it has been legalised, slap a good wack of tax on it (as with alcohol and tobacco) and use that extra revenue to recruit more police/ customs officials to help stop the distribution/ use of "harder" drugs. SIMPLE !
    Toby , UK


    Most people get their first taste for drugs through tobacco and alcohol so surely this is the area that needs targeting first

    Mark Dickinson, Nottingham, England
    Jeff from the USA is typical of the head-in-the-sand establishment that fails to realise that drugs are a part of everyday life. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about coffee, alcohol or cocaine. People take drugs as they see fit. Criminalising drug use creates drug barons and costs the government money in fighting a drug war when they should legalise it, tax it and then use the money for education.
    Oliver Richardson, London, UK

    The Western world's governments are hypocritical in conducting a drug war on certain "illegal" drugs yet fail to admit that the other "legal" drugs like nicotine and alcohol cause as much, if not more damage to the population. How can we try to outlaw some drugs but not others when their effects on the human body are just as damaging? I'll tell you why - the Western governments have control of the massive revenue coming from tobacco and alcohol, but they can't get their hands on the rest. Most people get their first taste for drugs through tobacco and alcohol so surely this is the area that needs targeting first.
    Mark Dickinson, Nottingham, England

    Surely what is needed is to take the crime out of drugs. To do that we need to take the profit out of drugs and to do that we need to make drugs available to any and all addicts on the NHS. This may seem radical, but let's face it, drug abuse is driven by addiction and addiction is a disease. Why does it make sense to allow a situation where vulnerable people are placed at the mercy of drug dealers and the only way they have left to fuel their habit and satisfy their addiction is to commit crime? Once the government gets control of the drugs market, by effectively pricing the drug barons out of it, the sober, painstaking, business of tackling the problem of drug abuse can be started with proper education and information instead of incarceration in a prison cell.
    John Brownlee, England


    The war on drugs has been a very expensive farce

    Stephen Kenney, USA
    The war on drugs has been a very expensive farce. Take the case of the USA. If published reports are true, drug availability and use is indeed enormous, yet the government claims to be spending a massive amount on fighting the problem. More a mistake of tactics than of monetary expense, they punish the addict by throwing them in jail instead of treating their addictions, release the people who sell drugs early only for them to take up their old trade yet again, and the government seems to not be focused on stopping the flow where the flow is most prevalent.

    Here on the Southern border area, it's wide open, it's like the old west down there with bounty hunters, refugees and vast spaces where law enforcement authorities rarely ever venture, seems until they start to attack the problem comprehensively, we'll see nothing but more of the status quo. If they put more people on the border to stop the flow rather than use the police to waste time in punishing the end user, they'd have better success at reducing the flow, reducing the use, and drastically raising the cost.
    Stephen Kenney, USA

    Until the greed and corruption in our governments and the police forces are stopped, the war on drugs will never be won and the billions spent every year are our tax dollars wasted.
    Sheila, USA

    I don't see why we can't take the libertarian point of view - legalise all drugs. As long as people use these narcotics in the privacy of their own home, what's the problem?
    Chris, Brownsville, TX, USA


    Legalising drugs will only increase their usage and take a greater toll on society than they are now

    Jeff, USA
    Over the past twenty years, successive governments have liberalised Britain's alcohol licensing laws, recognising that the way to reduce alcohol abuse is through education, not by restricting availability. With respect to "illegal" drug use, it's time we realised that demonising drug users is not effective as a means of reducing abuse. Britain has a much higher rate of hard drug use than other European countries such as Holland or Switzerland, where a more pragmatic approach to the problem is taken.
    Johnny, Glasgow, Scotland

    Legalising drugs will only increase their usage and take a greater toll on society than they are now. The drug problem is symptomatic of a society that has turned its back on God and Biblical truths, as well as the traditional family.
    Jeff, USA

    If the government wishes to remove the financial power of the criminal organisations, then they should legalise drugs and impose tariffs. If nothing else, their respectability will take away a lot of the glamour of drug use.
    Derek O'Brien, Northern Ireland

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