Tuesday, 23 October 2007

More on drugs (2)

There is apparently an acute shortage of morphine for use in pain management, particularly in the hospice care of the dying. Rather than trying to drive farmers out of business in the Golden Triangle, we would be better advised to pay them a commercial rate for their crops which could then be processed into morphine for therapeutic use. This has the twin advantages of developing the economies of the producer countries and of driving up the price to the heroin producer, which has either to be passed on to the end user, reducing the attraction to those not yet addicted, or the illegal markets margins are hit hard. This doesn't involve legalising heroin, though to do so and to encourage licensed sale at below street drug prices, would further squeeeze out the dealers. Finally, legalising, licensing and applying duty to such sales would fund the long overdue provision of detox and rehab services to those who wish to quit.

It may not square with what we want to be true, but it would probably be much more effective.

Monday, 22 October 2007

More on drugs

A basic principle of marketing is that where a raw material can be readily turned into a product with a strong consumer appeal, then a chain of production, manufacture, distribution, and retail sales will quickly establish itself. Moreover, so long as demand remains high then any company falling out of this market will be quickly replaced by a new player. So if Fresco Hypermarkets were found to be a mafia front organisation, its directors hauled before the courts and jailed, their stores would be bought up by another company and reopened. Hypermarket shoppers would suffer very little inconvenience.

By the same token, so long as there are large crops of opium poppy, coca leaf, cannabis and the like, and so long as there are large numbers of users of drugs made from each of these, then the prosecution, conviction and jailing of dealers achieves no more than opening the door to the entry of new dealers to take over. The solution - if there is one - lies in how effectively we can squeeze production to thwart the manufacturing process, coupled with how we significantly reduce the consumer base*, so that dealing is no longer sufficiently profitable. These are areas in which we appear to be investing insufficient effort, and this is one of the reasons why I feel that we are ideologically fixated on a failed policy.

* Banging them up will not work. Drugs are as readily available inside prisons as outside.

Monday, 15 October 2007

A Failed Policy?

This article in today's Independent makes interesting reading, I have a great deal of sympathy with this point of view. I write as a user myself. My drug of choice is alcohol, taken as wine, gin or beer, depending on my mood. I buy it from retail outlets licensed by the local authority, and I have felt no need to get involved in criminality in order to fund my habit. What I would have done had I been around in the 1920s in the USA when they attempted to wipe out alcohol with about as much success as we're having here with Class A, B, C I'm not sure.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Cause and Effect

In today's Independent, David Hanson, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, claims that NOMS has been a success because crime levels have fallen by 41% since 1997. Well, setting aside that NOMS was a David Blunkett production, not one of Jack Straw's, I don't see the connection.
It does make me wonder, though, whether the reduction in time taken to get cases through the judicial process these days may have nothing at all to do with all those splendid initiatives that have spewed out of the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Dept (a.k.a Dept of Constitutional Affairs, a.k.a Ministry of Justice). It may be all to do with there being less work to do! No,.....it can't be that simple.......can it?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Food for the soul

It's off topic, but I just came across this link, and all my cares were soothed away. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Le Mot Juste

A submission in court can stand or fall on the judicious (forgive the pun) choice of words. I remember a contested bail application some time ago where the defendant was represented by an obviously nervous solicitor whom we had not seen before, and who we suspected was pretty new to the job. Despite her nerves, she put up a clear and comprehensive argument as to why we should not take the Crown's case at face value, offering her client's acccount of what had happened. A shame, then, that she concluded with the killer statement: "That is my client's excuse, and it is the excuse he will give at his trial." In the interests of justice we substituted 'explanation' when deliberating and drew no adverse inference from her use of the word 'excuse'.