Garth McVicar

Written By: - Date published: 3:08 pm, December 2nd, 2008 - 68 comments
Categories: crime, prisons - Tags: ,

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar’s analysis of prisons today:

“Under our present prison policy the inmates are basically running the prison”

Why does anyone take this man seriously?

68 comments on “Garth McVicar”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    Why the hell is he being given space in a newspaper? He’s no more “qualified” than the next person to make these pronouncements.

    Oh wait, in this instance I’m the next person and I’ve actually spent time in a prison. In that case, he knows comparatively **** all.

    Certainly they’re not run as well as they should be, and staff are barely able to cope. They’re under incredible stress and most do an excellent job despite, rather than because of, the facilities they’re managing (while a large number have simply given up and become automatons).

    And why is this? Well for one thing it’s because narrow minded one-note idiots with no clues on correctional systems keep insisting we have “sensible” sentences which see offenders who could actually repay their debt to society by doing something positive for the community instead being stuffed, in ever greater numbers and for ever-lengthening times, into our prisons.

    Now, if only we could identify the idiots responsible for encouraging that trend through their increasing tantrums every time a sentence is handed out with which they disagree, we could refer them to Mr McVicar for a damn good thrashing…

  2. Jasper 2

    McVicars the only drop kick who will speak out against such transgressions thanks to his fort knox protected house, all lovingly paid for by supporters of SST. Sounds similar to someone else who preaches….

    Bring back the death penalty I say.

    Once more than 10 maori are hung/drawn/quartered, Turia and Sharples might walk the talk instead of blabbering on about shit.
    McVicar will then have nothing to talk about – after all SST is all about “hang em high” policies to anything that involves biblical crimes.

    Sit back, and watch crime rate drop accordingly. Turia will blame neoliberal post colonialism as a reason for maori getting hung, while conveniently ignoring the history of tribal warfare.

    Even reinstating it for 2 years would be enough of a disincentive to not murder/rape/pillage/plunder. Bearing in mind that 98% of criminals caught in this country have a rap sheet longer than my arm, and are the ones who committed such atrocities.

    But who can blame maori. They’re simply acting out their post colonialism tribal aggression.

    BTW: Im fully aware of the fact that maori is a noun, I just choose not to give them capital status. Just Capital Punishment.

  3. MikeE 3

    I’m all for harsher sentances, providing they are for crimes that have a real victim.

    I’m sure if we got rid of our silly cannabis laws, the prison population would shrink, and we would have more room to keep the real bad bastards locked away, rather than someone who gets caught with a spliff.

  4. Tane 4

    BTW: Im fully aware of the fact that maori is a noun, I just choose not to give them capital status. Just Capital Punishment.

    say what???

  5. ianmac 5

    What does it say about the general population who seem to agree with the McVicars of NZ?

  6. the sprout 6

    “Why does anyone take this man seriously?”

    Option A: journalists who’d rather cut and paste a press release than find a real story

    Option B: editors who have an interest in promoting the rantings of Mr McVicar

  7. the sprout 7

    “What does it say about the general population who seem to agree with the McVicars of NZ?”

    that they’re being lead by the nose by an msm with very obscure journalistic standards.

  8. Quoth the Raven 8

    I’m once again in agreement with MikeE. There’d be less people in prison if there weren’t so many pointless laws. We lock people away from society because they pose a risk to themselves. It’s patently absurd. Legalise it… all.

  9. Rex Widerstrom 9

    I’m addressing a conference on Restorative Justice next week (along with a whole lot of people with far more knowledge than I on the subject) and have been doing my level best to get an Aussie journo or two along. I’ve just got yet another “sorry, I’ve got better things to do” response. Yeah, like regurgitating press releases from the local equivalents of McVicar, for instance. *sigh*

    Mike E, QtR: Instant fines for possession of small amounts of cannabis have been the policy in several Australian states for some time now. NSW has trialled a policy of issung Criminal Infringement Notices (on-the-spot fines) for minor offences such as offensive language, minor cases of common assault (pushing and shoving basically), obstructing traffic and first time shoplifting*.

    This frees up police from paper work and helps unclog the courts and the offender doesn’t end up with a criminal record.

    Predictably there’s an outcry as other states try to introduce a similar scheme, complaining we’re “going soft” on “crims”. *sigh*

    * Only if it’s a first offence, the goods are worth less than $300 and the shopkeeper agrees.

  10. People take him seriously because I think he had a family member that was a victim of a crime, and he was put through hell through the system and saw the system was set up to help the criminals and not the people who were victims.

  11. Quoth the Raven 11

    Rex – We want it legalised. I don’t want to see some system of fines in place. It ought to be legal as should every other drug. One thing on that list: offensive language! I would hate to see the day you got a fine for offensive language. IMO there is no such fucking thing (libel is another matter). I don’t actually know what the laws are in New Zealand surrounding “offensive language” but I do recall being in a fairly inebriated state and telling a police officer using a few choice words what I thought of her profession and merely getting an indifferent response.

  12. gingercrush 12

    Wow you’re really showing your wisdom now. Great idea. Lets legalise heroine and cocaine and PI. Great thinking there QtR.

  13. higherstandard 13

    On behalf of every medical professional in NZ – QTR you are a dingbat !

    We certainly do not want all drugs legalised in NZ – legal and illegal drugs cause more than enough problems already.

  14. Quoth the Raven 14

    GC – I’ve always thought that and said so many times on this site. You may wish to disagree with the freedom of a person do with their own body what they wish, but it’s something I believe in. It’s also something MikeE coming from the opposite end of the economic/political spectrum as I agrees with. IMO P, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy,mescaline, LSD, BZP, PCP, DMT whatever it is if people want to take they shouldn’t be criminalised for it. You might find this site interest: Law enforcement against prohibition. It’s a more commonly held belief then you may think ginger.

    PS – GC what’s wrong with a heroine.
    HS – Go back to kiwiblog.

  15. Pascal's bookie 15

    On behalf of every medical professional in NZ

    How about you just speak for yourself HS, unless they had a vote and named you chief bloviator.

    They’ve pretty much legalised heroin in Switzerland, had a referendum, about 65 percent in favour. Hard core junkies can get their fix of uncut smack at the pharmacy. Heaps fewer needles lying around in parks and I hear about a third of the junkies on the deal have since quit their ten year plus habit. Funny that.

    The war on drugs has been a miserable failure, though it’s funded lot’s of narco wars and given the CIA and other such high minded individuals decent funding for deniable adventure with excellent blowback opportunities going forward. So if you’re into that sort of terror and bullet in the back of the head hijnks, it’s not a complete loss. And it mostly only happens to the not white people and third world failed staters so meh, eh?

  16. gingercrush 16

    I don’t think its a commonly held belief. A wee few perhaps but I don’t see many asking the argument for legalising all drugs. There is certainly opinion around cannabis that i think is legitimate. But when not a single political party or even a minority of people talk of legalisation of all drugs, you can hardly call it a common held belief.

    Now that is your opinion so your certainly entitled to it but I think its a poor argument to bring criminal numbers down.

    —-

    I’m still wondering why Jasper has not been banned. That was the most disgustingly racist thing I’ve ever read here.

  17. Quoth the Raven 17

    GC – I didn’t say it was a commonly held belief I said it was a more commonly held belief than you may think and linked to that site to help my case. You may be surprised ginger, for example Pen and Teller. Here’s the show rather than me arguing the point with you and taking this thread further off topic.

  18. ianmac 18

    Actually the call has been to de-criminalise (can’t spell!) marijuanna, which is not the same as legalise. Might give police more important things to worry about?

  19. Pascal's bookie 19

    Ginger, why do you think it’s a poor argument re criminality?

    For the sake of argument let’s posit that we legalise the lot, regulate suppliers similar to alcohol etc, and have quality controls so that users know what they are buying etc.

    Way I see it, beyond the obvious fact that users and dealers would no longer be criminals, you’d also eliminate all the crime surrounding the market. Competitors in the alcohol business don’t tend to murder each other. Retailers only rarely find that their new supplier has sold them coloured water and shot through to Sydney or Jo-berg with a quarter million in cash, requiring the time consuming and dangerous task of locating and extracting the specialised, expensive, and not very nice debt recovery services available. Similarly Liquorland doesn’t feel the need to employ enforcers to beat the shit of slow paying creditors. Alcoholics seem to be able to find their fix cheaply enough and reliably enough that they don’t need to steal up to grand a week in widescreen TV’s and XBOX360’s to keep the DT’s at bay. There wouldn’t be millions locally and trillions globally floating around needing laundry services and payoffs to everyone from border officials and politicians to police, judges, bankers, lawyers and god knows who else. (disclaimer/sidetrack deflection – I’m not saying that outright corruption is a big problem in NZ, but I wouldn’t say it doesn’t exist, and those millions do get laundered somewhere).

    Narcotics are estimated to be, I understand, right up there with oil and guns as the most traded things on the planet. The war on drugs just transfers all that cash to bad, bad men.

    Do you disagree? What would you suggest we do to start ‘winning the war on drugs’, if you think that is possible?

    Garth McVicar wouldn’t know, and neither would the ‘just say no’ crowd. They’re big criminal narco’s bff. Pump up the margins and pass the cut merchandise baby.

    There has to be a better way to regulate than this surely? IMO etc.

  20. Jasper 20

    GC – I haven’t been banned because while I was busy snorting coke, smoking marijuana and cooking P, I must have dazed off into a dreamland where I wished that my husband, neice, nephew, sister in law, mother in law and several cousins would all be goneburger.

    Somehow my rant was only taken seriously by you. Are you one of the fawning masses who drool over McVicars every word too?

    Tane – apologies if it came out as being moderately serious and not in the same style as a McVicar rant… I must have been slightly more coherent.

    QtR – Fully agree. Legalise all dugs. Government gets revenue, stigma goes away, it’s no longer a “cool” drug to do as there’s no element in getting caught. Most drug takers only do it for the thrill.
    Canberras decriminalisation has led to a massive drop in the number of people with MaryJane in that state alone.

    Funny. Captcha is Competent There.Who is?

  21. RedLogix 21

    PB,

    The argument you make is a very good one. It makes sense on the pragmatic level you pitch it to. Yet I cannot help but still have reservations.

    Where an act has a direct social dimension (eg murder or theft), we seem to have no problem enacting and enforcing laws against it.

    By contrast where the direct victim of an act is also the perpetrator of it (eg drug use) enforcement becomes far more problematic. There is no doubt that drug abuse (and I include alcohol) carries an enormous indirect cost to society as a whole.

    Let me try these numbers. Crime in NZ is estimated to cost about $8-10b pa. About 70% of that can be directly linked with alcohol abuse. Something like 30% of all accidents and medical costs are probably related to it, and I would suggest that lost workplace productivity and opportunities probably amount to at least 5% of GDP. Add all those up and alcohol abuse alone probably costs this country close to $20b pa. (Not to mention all the uncountable human misery. And if only we could invoice LiquorKing for this cost we might be able to afford some real tax cuts.)

    We seem to happily accept the staggering social cost of alcohol abuse, while deploring (as we should) acts like murder, rape and child abuse that probably have a somewhat lessor total impact on society.

    What drives this distinction? Why is it that we find crimes like murder relatively easy to reach a social consensus about (leaving aside the question of capital punishment for the moment), but twist ourselves in moral and intellectual knots over drug abuse?

    Jasper:

    That’s the downside of satire; sometimes it’s impossible to distinguish from reality.

  22. gingercrush 22

    I can’t see how legitimising the use of dangerous drugs as a good thing. In a commercial content arguably the drugs would be safer but they’re still dangerous and very open to abuse. That is one concern. Secondly, we know that by lowering the age of alcohol use there has been an increase in young people drinking and the health costs and criminal activity attached to that law change has increased. We know being liberal about alcohol laws means poorer areas see huge growth in liquor stores etc. In the legalisation of all drugs that same increase would be seen. And who would suffer more than others? Why the very people that are Labour’s core voters. They constantly vote Labour and the left That surely is a concern? Because you legalise drugs and the biggest increase would be the South Aucklands, the Aranuis of Christchurch etc etc.

    Likewise, in legalising drugs you will see crime increase. The changes in liquor laws have seen more and more criminal offences by drunk people. That would also extend to drug users. You don’t think places that sell drugs won’t be targeted by criminals? I beg to differ. You’d also see a rapid rise in health costs as more and more people use drugs. See I don’t think legalising drugs will make less people use them I would think there would be a considerable increase in drug usage and there would thus, be an increase in health costs and criminal costs.

    —-

    Jasper I really don’t care if you were joking or not.I just saw what you wrote as racist, non-funny and offensive. I like some of what Garth McVicar has to say and I believe some of the things he does is in the interest for New Zealand and something that has a general concensus. I also think he goes way too far and often ignores white collar crime.

  23. Rex Widerstrom 23

    QtR: I agree fines are just a bloody nonsense for possession, and have nil value as a deterrent (which is presumably why they exist). I was just pointing out that even a small step in the right direction gets decried.

    I also agree with you re legalising it all, for precisely the reasons so eloquently enumerated by Pascal’s bookie above.

    Higher Standard: normally you talk sense, but before you start speaking for the entire medical profession have a word with some of your colleagues. I’d recommend starting with Andrew Byrne, an incredibly compassionate GP who’s become a specialist in addiction treatment. He’s seen the misery addiction can bring and is certainly no proponent of the “let’s legalise it so we can all party” POV (which I detect a slight whiff of from QtR… my apologies if I’ve read you wrong).

    But Andrew and others who’ve worked with addicts (including, in a small way, myself) know full well that the intervention of some Plod with a charge sheet has never done anyone an ounce (pardon the pun) of good.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see any drug (including alcohol) abused. But if GPs are still hanging their hat on prohibition as a prophylactic, then they need to do some professional development, urgently.

  24. Quoth the Raven 24

    Red – But what is it you advocate – that we should prohibit alcohol? It seems to me that you’re the one tying yourself up in a moral knot. I’m certainly not in any. The point of our argument is that prohibition has been an absolute failure. We saw so plainly what a failure alcohol prohibition was in America (and interestingly enough in Russia) and I think it’s plainly obvious the immense failure of the global war on drugs fought since the early seventies. Drugs are easier to access and cheaper in the U.S. now than before the war began and I think it would be comparable worldwide. Calling for an end to prohibition is not in any way advocating drug use. Humans are always going to look to use psychoactives it’s just a plain fact of life. You can’t suppress it anymore than you can suppress sex.
    Ginger – You give me one example where prohbition has actually led to a significant decrease in the rates of use. Then you’re argument will have some merit, but otherwise it doesn’t and I know of no instance where it has. I don’t think the argument that lots of people will start taking drugs if it was legal and crime would increase bears up to any scrutiny. Alcohol prohibition did nothing to use and crime increased as Al Capone and the like went on murdering sprees. The wiki article quotes the New York county lawyers association thusly:With aid of these distinctions, we see that present drug policy appears to contribute to the increase of violence in our communities. It does so by permitting and indeed, causing the drug trade to remain a lucrative source of economic opportunity for street dealers, drug kingpins and all those willing to engage in the often violent, illicit, black market trade.
    Meanwhile, the effect of present policy serves to stigmatize and marginalize drug users, thereby inhibiting and undermining the efforts of many such individuals to remain or become productive, gainfully employed members of society. Furthermore, current policy has not only failed to provide adequate access to treatment for substance abuse, it has, in many ways, rendered the obtaining of such treatment, and of other medical services, more difficult and even dangerous to pursue. ‘

    Rex – I’m not adverse to little smoke here and there, but I’m no party animal.

  25. gingercrush 25

    Give me evidence that legalising drugs somehow benefits society. Any legitimation of drug use will have problems and that you can’t see that I find dumbfounding.

    Also I never actually said the prohibition of drugs cuts usage but I believe it has to be better than legitimising and legalising dangerous drugs.

    As for your arguments about alcohol QtR yes making alcohol prohibited saw an increase in gangs etc but one thing you can’t deny. That the opening up and acceptance of alcohol and new liberal laws around alcohol sales etc. Has caused social issues, increases in admissions to hospitals etc and increases in crime.

    —-

    Are our current laws in terms of illegal drugs wrong? Possibly. But I don’t favour decriminalising anything other than cannabis and I frankly do not see the benefits of making current illegal drugs legal.

  26. gomango 26

    Personally I’m very liberal socially, and happy for people to do whatever they like as long as it doesnt have a real negative impact on the rights of others. But it is funny to see alcohol used as a justification for the legalisation of other drugs. We clearly need more of the problems that alcohol provides, though on the other hand prohibition is a clearly worse solution.

    The damage caused to our society by alcohol abuse is far more widespread and expensive than any other drug – apologies for that sweeping statement to any individuals on the receiving end of any drug related trauma.

    The solution is simple but unpalatable to most of our society. Decriminalise drugs, supply them legally, tax the hell out them, provide rehab services and have draconian penalties for possessors of unlicenced narcotics. Might as well raise some tax revenue from an inelastic commodity – it may help pay for the lost productivity, increased medical costs etc society as a whole incurs. And run the same sort of campaign against, dope, party pills, P etc that we now run against cigarettes.

    Why are cigarettes unacceptable but dope, party pills aren’t? (Always amuses me when fussy, greenie, “natural is good” types take party pills – there’s consistency for you.) Cant understand the logic disconnect there. Oh, and minimum sentence of (pick a number greater than 1) years for anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. I don’t want a doped up idiot running over my kids as they walk to school. Though if said doped up idiot stays in his bedroom eating pizza I don’t really care.

  27. Garth McVictim is an absolute joke. My mind often wanders when I’m stuck on menial tasks at work, and I was thinking today about he really aught to fess up that the policies he advocates have been shown to increase crime, he really aught to be honest to people that hes willing to live in a more dangerous society, in return for getting a bit of revenge.

    The others are right in identifying a significant racist element in his work, when Jack Nicholas was shot, in McVictims general area, that was a big turning point for the SST, they really used it to pump up their profile. This was all kind of based around the expectation \ assumption that the person who shot him would be a Maori growing a crop of dope on his land. Bit of a shock to McVictim when I turned out to be a white fella, but that’s the way the chips fall.

    The other thing about drug prohibition that I don’t think has been covered here is the example of Vancouver’s safe injection site. Similar too other programs, clean gear provided, medical supervision ect (but drugs not supplied like some other places). Two benefits not really mentioned that have been seen in the Vancouver set up is it tends to have all the users in the near by area, while this is at the expense of that area, things are a lot better in the rest of the city for it.

    It also takes drug use out of the shadows and provides much better access for medical and psychological treatment for the users. Many of which their drug use has gone well beyond about using or pleasure from a drug, its just pure addiction and dependence. The safe injection sites result in a much higher rate of getting people clean.

  28. Pascal's bookie 28

    Red, I’m not suggesting that drug use is without cost. Why we tie ourselves in knots? I don’t know. But what is undeniable is that for a large number of humans, in pretty much any time and place you care to mention, ‘recreational’ drug use has been important to them, socially, spiritually and emotionally. I don’t think that is going to change. At present society offers only one legal drug. One that when abused makes people violent and dangerous. Much more so than many of the other drugs that are illegal. Ask cops about whether they feel safer visiting dance parties or pubs after 4AM. And where they make more arrests. P is a menace, it’s also a crap drug that’s easy to make and powerful. Black market mana.

    gc

    “legitimisation” is a red herring. People that want to take drugs, and that is a lot of people BTW, take them now. They are very widely available, through criminals who will sell them to anyone, restricted only by their personal sense of who they want to sell them to. These are the only people users can buy them off, they would far rather get better quality safer product at licensed dealers.

    Most drug users manage fine. Alcohol is one of the most damaging personally and socially IMO, yet the biggest dealers of that drug are widely respected pillars of the community.

    Think Douglas Myers, what is the difference between him and the guy selling Ecstasy tablets? Answer: The guy selling e’s is a criminal with fewer deaths on his hands (as a result of the product).

    What we need to do is minimise the social harm done by drugs. Most of that harm is due to the criminality of the enterprise, and the fact that alcohol is legal. It still cracks me up that at events like the Gathering you used to get around ten thousand people camping out for 3 days, alcohol prohibited, a low police presence and trained folks on hand to look out for problems. Hardly a single problem with violence or non drug crime despite 95 percent of the punters being out of their gourds as much as they liked on pot, e, mushrooms, lsd etc. I guarantee if alcohol was involved there’d have been a lot more problems and a lot less fun. Down the road in Nelson there’d be a couple of hundred piss heads get together for one night at new years eve,- riots, dozens of arrests heaps of property damage etc and so on.

    Given the choice, lots of the people that at the moment cause problems due to alcohol, (young males) would be using drugs that are less aggro, and don’t mess with your head in the same way that alcohol does.

    One question:

    Does anyone think the clever people at the big pharma companies would not be able to develop safer recreational drugs than those we use now, if the stigma was removed from the idea that using drugs to have fun is ‘wrong’ ?

    Any rational reasons why that isn’t happening?

    People get nervous about the idea of legalised drugs. Given the problems illegal drugs cause I find that ridiculous.

  29. Quoth the Raven 29

    Ginger – I also see the issue as a wider issue than the pragmatic side, the social cost, the economic cost, etc of the drug war, I see it as a moral one in that I don’t think the government ought to control what we put into our own bodies. I think that is a basic point of difference between our views that is irreconcilable. Yes you are dumbfounding GC. The pragmatic side is obvious and you really can’t argue it, you don’t even bother. You yourself said you didn’t say that prohibition of drugs cuts usage. So what’s the point in prohibition then? Just an incredibly bizarre and expensive game. I think the best quote is from someone on the National research council in the U.S: “the drug war has no interest in its own results.” In countries with relatively liberal approach to drugs such as the Netherlands there is actually less drug use than other nations with harsher approach to drugs. Answer me this if cocaine was legalised tommorrow would you suddenly start snorting cocaine? I think your answer would be no and I think that answer is the same for most people. The argument that usage would actually increase with legalisation is just plain wrong. Drugs are already readily available and easy enough to acquire the people that want to take drugs do take drugs prohibtion or no prohibition. Also I believe that harm reduction can be much better achieved if the people we are trying to treat are not criminalised and the money saved on law enforcement and mass imprisonment was spent on healthcare and education. Your side of the argument is not only untenable from a moral perspective it’s untenable from a pragmatic perspective. Another interesting quote from that article, since I know you didn’t bother to read it. Martin Friedman said: “See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.’
    Also answer me this ginger Do you drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or drink coffee? If the answer is yes then you are a drug user. Did you know that when the U.S drew up its list of drugs to make illegal on such and such’s law (I can’t remeber the name), violating their own constitution, coffee was short listed, we’re just lucky that it wasn’t arbitrarily made illegal like so many other drugs, as the rest of the world followed America’s lead.

  30. Just because he was a victim of crime doesn’t mean he’s an authority on prisons I’m afraid.

  31. Rex Widerstrom 31

    gingercrush asks:

    Give me evidence that legalising drugs somehow benefits society.

    The vast – and I do mean vast – numbers of people who wouldn’t have been burgled, robbed at knife / gun / syringe point, mugged, car jacked, stood over for money and just plain stolen from (thought that’s mainly partners, friends and family, specially mums and dads – it’s the public who get the really nasty stuff committed upon them) by a junkie who needs to spend hundreds of dollars a day on a drug when decriminalising it would lower the price and make it affordable.

    The kids of junkies who might get fed if mummy and / or daddy could afford a fix and food.

    The medical staff, spcially at hospital A&Es, who wouldn’t have to deal with violent addicts withdrawing and demanding drugs they’re not legally allowed to prescribe and could get on with treating people who needed help (or, sadly, drunks who’d had too much and glassed one another, but that’s another story).

    The cops who wouldn’t have 80% of their time taken up with the above.

    It’s nigh on impossible to extract reliable drug-related crime data from the overall statistics – especially crimes not involving drugs, but committed to fund their purchase, because no one really collects it.

    But spend a while in the “justice” system in any capacity at all, from judge to crim, and you’ll soon see the enormity of the crime committed to purchase illegal substances. Crime that would virtually vanish overnight if those substances were decriminalised and affordable.

    It’s like Frank Gallgher says in the opening title sequence of the brilliant Shameless; “Make poverty history: cheaper drugs now” 😀 To which I’d add “And make most crime history too”.

  32. Rex Widerstrom 32

    Killinginthenameof:

    …when Jack Nicholas was shot… Bit of a shock to McVictim when I turned out to be a white fella…

    Misprint, or confession? 😀

  33. Ari 33

    ginger- the argument (interestingly, both sides argue from facts, not ideology) that we should decriminalise is based on the assumption that certain types of drugs are harmless enough that the black market that supplies them, and other trappings of criminalisation, such as ignoring drug addiction as a health problem both mental and physical, exceed the harm of simply letting people have the drug.

    Most people with any slant on drug decriminalisation believe that cannabis is probably the best candidate, and certainly worth a try given the drug-related crime statistics in the only country that has to any degree decriminalised it. (Most of the incidents are foreigners who came to the country specifically to smoke, which seems to be evidence for decriminalisation.)

    Would you agree for instance that removing penalties for possession only is likely to still allow police to go after people who really are abusing the system- like growers and dealers- without having to bust people for choosing to endanger people for their own health?

  34. higherstandard 34

    QTR

    “I see it as a moral one in that I don’t think the government ought to control what we put into our own bodies”

    And who’s responsibility is it for paying and cleaning up the mess resulting from what people put in their bodies ?

    QTR your comments are the same sort of drive I used to spout decades ago before I grew up.

    Rex

    “The medical staff, spcially at hospital A&Es, who wouldn’t have to deal with violent addicts withdrawing and demanding drugs they’re not legally allowed to prescribe and could get on with treating people who needed help (or, sadly, drunks who’d had too much and glassed one another, but that’s another story).”

    Rex addicts withdrawing and demanding drugs is more of a problem at secondary care level, the majority of drug/addiction problems in A&E is self harm or harm to others caused by the patients abuse of drugs (prescription and non prescription, legal and illegal)

  35. higherstandard 35

    For secondary care read primary care (GPs)

  36. Ari 36

    And who’s responsibility is it for paying and cleaning up the mess resulting from what people put in their bodies ?

    (I think you mean “whose” 🙂 )

    Ideally their own, but keep in mind that the long-term cost of treating addicts is probably a lot lower than the long-term cost of arresting them.

  37. lprent 37

    PB:” At present society offers only one legal drug.”

    Two – tobacco is pretty bad as well – ask anyone who gives up.

  38. Pascal's bookie 38

    Lynn, true that.

  39. vto 39

    McVicar may come across as a bit of a buffoon at times but he quite clearly represents the utter frustrations of a very significant proportion of the population who have suffered from crime and the justice system and who see massive flaws in it.

    They won’t go away until things improve for them. And good on them quite frankly.

    I don’t understand why some have a problem with their wailing at the politicians.

  40. DeeDub 40

    VTO: Because if they give McVicar and his lot what they’re after it sure as hell won’t improve things and could very well make things worse.

  41. Quoth the Raven 41

    HS – Speaking on behalf of the galatic federation… You grew up HS but Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, those guys who signed the american constitution, all those classic liberalists like John Stuart Mill, Julian Critchley former head of the U.K’s anti-drug coordination unit, all the former and current law enforcement persons at LEAP, and so on and so forth.
    All of them are immature young people and you are the wise old man isn’t that right HS. Two quotes for you the afformentioned Julian Critchley:I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors held the same view: the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the Government would be ‘tough on drugs’, even though they all knew that the Government’s policy was actually causing harm.
    and Albert Einstein:The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.

  42. higherstandard 42

    I didn’t know you were a member of the galactic federation.

    QTR – I don’t think one needs to look past the effect of lowering the drinking age to see what the likely effects of across the board drug legalisation or decriminalisation would be. In terms of what I would consider one of the less harmful drugs that could be considered for decriminalisation have a look at the issues below.

    “The Swiss Experiment: Tolerant drug policies in Switzerland have resulted in an influx of drug users. In 1987, the Swiss Government permitted drug use and sales in a part of Zurich called Platzspitz, or “Needle Park.’ By 1992, over 20,000 drug users congregated in the park, and the surrounding areas were overrun with crime. The park has been shut down and the experiment has been terminated.”

    “The Canadian Experiment: The aggressive decriminalization effort in Canada has resulted in the highest levels of pot use in 25 years. The Canadian Government released a report indicating that marijuana usage had increased to the same levels as the late 1970’s. Kids were getting mixed messages about the dangers of marijuana during the 1990’s when the decriminalization discussion was going on. According to the November 24, 2004 Canada Addiction Survey, marijuana use among Canadians has doubled since 1994. A decade earlier, 7.4% of respondents indicated they had used marijuana; usage levels are currently 14%. The study also indicates that there has been an increase in the number of Canadians using an injectable drug: the number rose from 132,000 in 1994 to 269,000 in 2004.”

    “In Ireland, the number of children treated for mental disorders caused by smoking cannabis has quadrupled since the government downgraded the legal status of the drug, according to an article in the Sunday Times (September 18, 2005). Addaction, an Irish drug charity, told the Times that “three months after police stopped arresting anyone found in possession of small amounts of the drug, the overall number of users treated for such conditions rose 42%.’

    “Mayor of Maastricht Pushes Cannabis Cafes to Edge of City: According to a New York Times article (August 20, 2006), “The mayor (of Maastricht) wants to move most of the city’s 16 licensed cannabis clubs to the edge of town, preferably close to the border’ (with Belgium and Germany). Mayor Gerd Leers is reacting to growing concerns among residents who “complain of traffic problems, petty crime, loitering and public urination. There have been shootings between Balkan gangs. Maastricht’s small police force is already spending one-third of its time on drug-related problems.’ Cannabis clubs have drawn “pushers of hard drugs from Amsterdam, who often harass people on the streets.’ According to a police spokesman, the clubs have also attracted people looking to buy marijuana in quantity. Piet Tans, the police spokesman also stated that “People who come from far away don’t just come for the five grams you can buy legally over the counter They think pounds and kilos; they go to the dealers who operate in the shadows.’

    Lynn apologies for the cut and pastes – linking not working for some reason.

  43. Pascal's bookie 43

    JFTR,

    HS’s quotes seem to be taken from a D.E.A. website. Which is useful to know.

  44. Quoth the Raven 44

    HS – First of all the swiss experiment, only yesterday in the press they had an article on swiss voters Swiss voters have overwhelmingly approved a move to make permanent the country’s pioneering programme to give addicts government-authorised heroin.
    It goes on to say:The heroin programme has helped eliminate scenes of large groups of drug users shooting up openly in parks that marred Swiss cities in the 1980s and 1990s, supporters say.
    Second of all citing the Netherlands to defend your case is ridiculous. The Netherlands has a soft approach to natural drugs Cannabis, mushrooms, etc and the use rates of hard drugs are correspondingly lower than the rest of the EU and the use of Cannabis use is lower than countires with a much harsher approach to Cannabis like the U.S. Furthermore deaths from drugs are lower than other nations and the rates of AIDS due to intravenous drug use is also lower. That quote from the police woman could easily support an argument that Cannabis laws should be further liberalised in the Netherlands as people are going to criminals “who operate in the shadows” to buy large quantities instead of a shop.
    Thirdly, the average consumption of alcohol in New Zealand is average on a world scale, we’re mormon tea drinkers comparable to some countries, wealthy european countries for instance.
    Fourthly you’re all over the place with your Canadian example. Injectable drug use is up all over the world, the reason is Afghanistan. Also you give numbres not percentages so you’re not accounting for population increases. The Netherlands has a softer approach to Cannabis then canada and their rate of use is around 6%. The use of Cannabis in Canada is about the same as that in our country and as you say about the same as when the laws were harsher in the seventies which supports my view that prohibtion or legalisation will not really change the number of people doing drugs anymore than making sex illegal would have an effect on the number of people having sex.
    Fiftly – In Ireland that is just as anyone supproting an end to prohibition would expect, that once the criminality of a drug is removed it would be easier for drugs users to seek treament. The quote from the New York county lawyers association I put in an earlier comment says that current policy has not only failed to provide adequate access to treatment for substance abuse, it has, in many ways, rendered the obtaining of such treatment, and of other medical services, more difficult and even dangerous to pursue. Furthermore Cannabis use in Ireland is relatively low less than half of what it is in this country.
    Now what have you to say about my earlier comment are you still maintaining that all those people are immature and young?

  45. ianmac 45

    Two things. If some form of decriminalisation occur, it is likely that the recorded incidence will rise as there is no reason to hide. Think of the apparent rise in recorded incidence of violent crime when publicity encouraged reporting of domestic violence. (sort of the same.) One small country with decriminalisation in some form is sure to attract  a huge number of outsiders. If all countries were in, there would be no need for the congregation.
    And the legal use of alcohol does not prevent problems arising from its use. But if alcohol was a banned substance I think the serious consequences would be even greater.

  46. higherstandard 46

    QTR

    Your Einstein quote refers to the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the 20s – I can’t see it’s relevance in relation to your wish to make all drugs of abuse legal and I hardly think that’s what Einstein was suggesting when he made that statement.

    Though one could argue that prohibition of a previously legal substance may cause major issues ……. although the prohibition on smoking in restaurants etc certinly hasn’t caused any great problems, so one could expect different issues dependent on what is prohibited and what restrictions are placed around drugs of abuse which is hardly surprising.

    Secondly you seem now to be making the argument that we need legalisation of drugs of abuse so that we can make medical services and treatment to get people off the drugs of abuse more freely available – which is bordering on the non-sensical.

    I doubt we’ll ever see eye to eye on this issue as my position will remain is that drugs of abuse are harmful and need to be treated and restricted as such whereas you appear to take the libertarian view….

    “I see it as a moral one in that I don’t think the government ought to control what we put into our own bodies. I think that is a basic point of difference between our views that is irreconcilable.”

    ….having seen the damage caused by legal and illegal drugs of abuse I find I can’t agree with at all

    Ianmac

    I tend to agree with your position on total alcohol prohibition although it would never happen in NZ and we wouldn’t know unless we tried it. However what would be the effect of having a zero limit for drink driving with very harsh penalties – would it lead to a furthering lowering of alcohol related road fatalaties over the next decade.

  47. Quoth the Raven 47

    HS – Well I see the alcohol prohibtion a perfect example of the failure of prohibition and the same things that went on with alcohol in America in the prohibition era is the same that goes on with other drugs now, that is poorly made drugs causing harm to users, bath tub gin in the days of prohibition, drug cartels controlling the market, we all know about the gangsters in the prohibiton days and we can see the drug cartels and gangs in action today. Remember all the while during prohibiton of alcohol cannabis was legal, opium was available in snake medicine and heroin was prescribed for sore throats. When many drugs that are illegal are more innocuous than alcohol your argument against prohibiton of them is hypocritical in the extreme if you are not calling for the prohbition of alcohol. You take issue with my Einstein quote fine, but what about the rest, are they all immature young people? You decided not to aruge any of the points I raised only the health issue. I make the argument against prohibition for many reasons not just that. Many people in law enforcement and health care have made the same argument that harm reduction can be much better achieved if prohibition was ended. You believe that the number of users would increase, I do not. You haven’t provided any examples to back up your argument. As I’ve said before those that want to use drugs or try them have or will, prohibition or no prohbition. The war on drugs has done nothing to the availability or cost of drugs, they’re now cheaper and more readily available then before the war on drugs. the only thing that would make your argument work is that if you could prove that prohibiton does anything to the number of people using and trying drugs and you can’t prove that. I asked ginger whether he’d start using drugs if they were legal I’ll ask yout he same question; If cocaine or heroin were legalised tommorow would you start using them? In conclusion your argument is indefensible from any moral or pragmatic level.
    P.S. You’re a freedom hating wowser.

  48. higherstandard 48

    QTR

    “In conclusion your argument is indefensible from any moral or pragmatic level.”

    So your position is that it is both moral and pragmatic to legalise drugs – right then

    “If cocaine and heroin were legal tomorrow would you start using them”

    No,

    “Many people in law enforcement and health care have made the same argument that harm reduction can be much better achieved if prohibition was ended. You believe that the number of users would increase, I do not. You haven’t provided any examples to back up your argument.”

    Try the article below

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/ille-e/presentation-e/single-e.htm

    or

    http://pb.rcpsych.org/cgi/reprint/22/4/230.pdf

    or

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7627/967

    I’m pretty much in total agreement with the comment the author makes…

    “Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are dangerous. A child who reaches age 21 without smoking, misusing alcohol, or using illegal drugs is virtually certain to never do so.Today, most children don’t use illicit drugs, but all of them, particularly the poorest, are vulnerable to misuse and addiction. Legalisation and decriminalisation—policies certain to increase illegal drug availability and use among our children—hardly qualify as public health approaches.”

    There are also other links that argue for an end to prohibition so an interesting read form both perspectives as I have said previously my perspective is from that of someone who has to clean up the mess caused by drugs of abuse and as a parent who does not only want more restrictions placed on the availability of alcohol and tobacco but would exit NZ in an instant if the government moved to make currently illegal drugs legal as per your heroin and cocaine argument.

    And in regards to being a freedom hating wowser – no not really I’m just not in favour of people killing themselves and others as a result of their abuse of legal and illegal drugs.

  49. Quoth the Raven 49

    Wowser – Right, so I skimmed over you first link (bloody long) and found this in the conclusion:Decriminalisation measures in the U.S. and Australia were much less radical than their name implies. The new laws involved a change in penalties whereby cannabis possession offenders were no longer subject to potential jail terms, which had already been an uncommon sentence in most jurisdictions, as well as providing the opportunity for possession offenders to avoid a criminal conviction and the resultant problems. In both countries, these so-called decriminalisation laws did not appear to have had a major impact on rates of use, as many feared that it might have.
    Tha’s what I’ve been saying laws or lack of will not change usage and if they don’t is there in any point in the whole war? I will read in more detail and check out the other link later.

  50. higherstandard 50

    QTR

    But your not arguing decriminalisation are you ?

    Your arguing for “..Rex – We want it legalised. I don’t want to see some system of fines in place. It ought to be legal as should every other drug”

    I’m happy to argue against either to some extent but would certainly view option 1 as the lesser of two evils.

  51. Quoth the Raven 51

    Wowser – Your second article is by its own admission totally inconclusive. I simply don’t agree with the third article and many in the health profession and in law enforcement do not either. We could both sit here and cherry pick others’ opinions forever if we wish. Back to the first article I think it proves my point that liberalisation even if it’s just a small move like decriminalisation does not do anything to the number of users and that criminalisation is no deterrent and has had no effect on the number of users. The people that want to use drugs do and those that don’t don’t and the changing the laws won’t change that fact. From the article:
    The presumed benefit of the criminalisation of cannabis possession is the deterrence of cannabis use. There is, however, little evidence of a strong deterrent effect. Substantial increases in marijuana use occurred in the 1960s and 1970s despite the application of criminal penalties for cannabis possession both in the U.S. (7, 23, 44) and in Australia (17). These trends in cannabis use do not constitute conclusive evidence regarding the lack of a deterrent effect, as it is not known whether rates of use might have increased even more if cannabis possession had not been prohibited. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that nonusers rarely cite fear of legal consequences as a reason for their nonuse (34, 44). Rather, the simple lack of interest or fear of adverse health consequences are the most commonly given reasons for abstention from cannabis use

    The available data indicate that these decriminalisation measures substantially reduced enforcement costs, yet had little or no impact on rates of use.

    Changes in rates of use appear to be more strongly connected with changing perceptions of health risks rather than availability or any changes in the legal status of the drug.

    Cannabis use is very popular, being by far the most widely used illicit drug in both countries. The cannabis market has been described in the U.S. as being “near-saturation” (23) and this would probably also apply to Australia as well.

    Under these circumstances, it should not be surprising that the reduction of penalties for cannabis possession to a fine only did not lead to significant changes in rates of cannabis use.

    Am I to take it that you are now in favour of decriminalisation?

  52. higherstandard 52

    Arghhhhh you’re not your … I’ve caught SP’s disease.

  53. higherstandard 53

    No I’m not in favour of decriminalisation I merely stated that it’s the lesser of two evils.

    Are you now in favour of only decriminalising cannabis or are you still wishing to legalise all drugs of abuse ?

    I would also point to an rather obvious point that appears lost on you – make something easier and cheaper to obtain, and you increase the number of people who will try it.

    If we have indeed got saturation usage of cannabis this may not be the case with this drug of abuse, but to extrapolate that to other drugs of abuse or new drugs of abuse is foolhardy.

    We know that keeping an activity illegal deters many people from taking part in that activity. Remove the penalties or sanctions, and many more people will take up the activity.

    We can learn from history here. After Europe imposed the opium trade on China in the mid-19th century, by 1900 there were an estimated 90 million opium addicts in the nation. When British physicians could write prescriptions for heroin in the 60s, the nation’s junkies increased thirty to forty-fold.

  54. Quoth the Raven 54

    HS – No I still support legalisation.
    We know that keeping an activity illegal deters many people from taking part in that activity. Remove the penalties or sanctions, and many more people will take up the activity.
    Now you’re just making blind assertions. The article you linked to on Cannabis decriminalisation comes to the exact opposite conclusion:Changes in rates of use appear to be more strongly connected with changing perceptions of health risks rather than availability or any changes in the legal status of the drug.

    You said: I would also point to an rather obvious point that appears lost on you – make something easier and cheaper to obtain, and you increase the number of people who will try it. It is not an obvious point. I would say it is false. As I asked you if you’d start taking heroin or cocaine if they were legal and you said you would not. My point as I have made many times is that drugs are easy to acquire, available in abundance and relatively cheap and those that want to try them do regardless of the laws. I’ve made this point: the war on drugs has done nothing to the availability or cost of drugs, they’re now cheaper and more readily available then before the war on drugs. It’s you who doesn’t seem to get the point that after years of mass imprisonment, executions, spraying of vast swathes of land, many deaths on both sides law enforcement and criminal absolutely nothing has been achieved by the drug war. Nothing. And as I said drugs are actaully cheaper and more readily available then when the war started. I think the quote I put in an earlier comment sums it up best: “the drug war has no interest in its own results.’
    As to your spurious comments about heroin in Britain, I have no doubt that you have absolutely no understanding of the situaiton. Your numbers are way over the top. First of all British physicians could write prescriptions for heroin since the twenties to help addicts so your claim is laughable. The laws actually became harder in the 60s and seventies in Britain surrounding many drugs. Now there was an increase in heroin users in the sixties, I’ll allow you to draw own conclusion on the fact that when the approach to drugs became harsher use increased. There is a long article here about supplying heroin legally to addicts.
    Here are some quotes from it:
    Bv 1924, when the Rolleston committee met, the disastrous effects of the United States decision to refuse legal opium, morphine, and heroin to addicts were conspicuously visible. Dr. Harry Campbell came to the United States in 1922 to observe what had been happening during seven years of enforcement of the Harrison Act. What he saw flabbergasted him. Upon his return to England he informed his medical colleagues of the astonishing conditions he had observed: … In consequence of this stringent law a vast clandestine commerce in narcotics has grown tip in that country. The small bulk of these drugs renders the evasion of the law comparatively easv, and the country is overrun by an army of peddlers who extort exorbitant prices from their helpless victims. It appears that not only has the Harrison Law failed to diminish the number of drug takers-some contend, indeed, that it has increased their numbers-btal far from bettering the lot of the opiate addict, it has actually worsened it; for without curtailing the supply of the drug it has sent the price up tenfold, and this has had the effect of impoverishing the poorer class of addicts and reducing them to a condition of such abject misery as to render them incapable of gaining an honest livelihood.

    And the sixties:In short, Britain had begun to adopt American antidrug propaganda methods, and was beginning to reap Americanstyle rewards in terms of a rise in youthful addiction.

  55. higherstandard 55

    I still can’t understand your ket reason for making substances that are harmful to oneself and society legal perhaps you should list your rationale again.

    But to cover some further points.

    “We know that keeping an activity illegal deters many people from taking part in that activity. Remove the penalties or sanctions, and many more people will take up the activity.Now you’re just making blind assertions.”

    Nope

    During Prohibition in America, consumption of alcohol declined substantially, as did the cirrhosis death rate for men (cut by two-thirds between 1911 and 1929), and arrests for public drunkenness (dropped 50 per cent between 1919 and 1922).

    When Muslim societies removed restrictions on hashish in the 15th century, it is said that this resulted in “a large number of people from all walks of life [being] in a constant state of intoxication’.

    Some advocates of legalisation claim that such a move will reduce drug-associated crime. Even if we assume that lower prices will cause addicts to commit fewer offences, there is a very real possibility that this will be offset by the general crime increase associated with the increase in users.

    Any health professional or police officer will tell you that a person on drugs will be more likely to neglect a child, abuse a spouse or take a life. It’s not just that people do bad things to get drugs; drugs make them do bad things.

    Consider some statistics:

    -A 1991 US federal survey found that a majority of those arrested in 24 cities for robbery, assault, burglary and homicide tested positive for drugs.

    -In New York in 1987, 73 per cent of child abuse cases involved parental drug abuse.

    -A 1994 study of 31,000 abused and neglected children in Cook County, Illinois found that more that 80 per cent of the cases involved drugs.

    -A 1992 study of NSW inmates found that 67 per cent of prisoners had been on drugs while committing the crime they were imprisoned for.

    Also, cheaper drugs do not necessarily mean less crime. When inexpensive crack cocaine flooded America in the early 1980s, the rate of addiction soared, as did crime rates. Indeed, police noted that wherever drugs were the cheapest, crime rates were the highest.

    Some would argue that we’re fighting a losing battle but consider that several decades ago around 60% of all adults and young people smoked cigarettes. But now, due to education, health warnings, and government restrictions, that figure is declining as is well below 20 per cent. Social trends can be reversed.

    By declaring certain things illegal, the law sends out a moral message that such activities are wrong and to be avoided. Correspondingly, to legalise a previously illegal activity sends the signal, especially to our young people, that such an activity is now morally acceptable. What society was once seen to disapprove of it is now seen to endorse.

  56. Quoth the Raven 56

    HS – You don’t give up do you. I will have the last word no matter how many days it takes. Each time you come up with some bullshit I debunk it and you don’t even bother to defend it you just divert to some new erroneous claims. The heroin supply to addicts was a case in point, you were clearly bested when I pointed out to you that heroin was supplyed by those in the medical profession since at least the twenties and probably well before that. Furthermore there was the own goal with the link on Cannabis decriminlisation which further strengthed my case (I don’t think you even read it). Now you’ve come out with another clearly mistaken claim about alcohol prohibition. You clearly don’t look or don’t wish to look at the evidence.. At the beggining of alcohol prohibtion use went down, but as soon as the bootleggers and rum runners got into business it soon went back to normal. Also you must remember that prohibition was hardly enforced in much of America for obvious reasons. From the drug library alcohol section: In discussing the relative successes and failures of Prohibition, most observers conclude that the undertaking failed.

    Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism.

    Although some view the theory of prohibition as reasonable, it is generally conceded that the realities of manufacture and distribution make it unworkable, for in one form or another, alcohol can be easily produced by farmers, high school chemistry students, and ordinary citizens.

    The per capita rate for the Prohibition years is computed to be 1.63 proof gallons. This is 11.64% higher than the Pre-Prohibition rate (Tillitt, 1932: 35). Based on these figures one observer concluded: “And so the drinking which was, in theory, to have been decreased to the vanishing point by Prohibition has, in fact, increased

    The trend of death from alcoholism reflects hardly anything else than progress in the treatment of the so-called diseases of chronic alcoholism. Nevertheless, statistics of death from alcoholism have been used by both Drys and Wets to prove that Prohibition or repeal has greatly improved the rate of death from alcoholism. . . . Death from alcoholism is simply not an index of the prevalence of inebriety. Death from alcoholism could fall to zero in response to medical progress, while at the same time the rate of inebriety might rise many fold (Jellinek, 1947: 39).

    “In making out death certificates (which are basic to Census Reports) private or family physicians commonly avoid entry of alcoholism as a cause of death whenever possible. This practice was more prevalent under the National Dry Law than it was in preprohibition time” (Tillitt, 1932: 114-115).

    Nevertheless, gross statistics drawn from 383 cities indicate that arrests for drunkenness per 10,000 population reached a high of 192 in 1916 and fell to 71 in 1920. From this level, they rose steadily again to reach 157 in 1928 (Warburton, 1932: 102). Of course, arrests prior to Prohibition may not bear the same relation to the use of alcohol as they did subsequently, Warburton theorizes:
    . . . [U]nder Prohibition, especially during the early years, police were more strict in making arrests, and . . . a larger proportion than formerly of persons appearing on the streets under the influence of liquor are arrested. Also, since the sale of liquor is illegal and cannot be obtained in public saloons, and when the police are more strict in arresting intoxicated persons, it is reasonable to suppose that drinking is less public and that fewer drunken persons appear on the streets relative to the quantity of liquor consumed (Warburton, 1932: 103).

    You’ve also got to ask yourself why there was such a clamour for the repeal of prohibition if it was as in your eyes so successful. Are you advocating alcohol prohibtion?

    I’m not arguing with you about the harm that drugs can cause. I’m arguing that prohibition achieves nothing and harm reduction can be better achieved where prohibition is ended.

    P.S. 15th century muslim societies you’re clutching at fucking straws there.

  57. Pascal's bookie 57

    ooh look plagiarism.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5490/is_200203/ai_n21310571/pg_2

    I’m surprised what with hs being a Doctor that teaches at the Uni and all. It’s really not hard to use some quote marks and say “as Bill Muehlenberg said…” HigherStandards aren’t what they used to be.

    A few questions I’ve not seen you answer there doc:

    Do you think the ‘war on drugs’ approach is actually working?

    Are you happy with the current state of affairs re the effects of drugs on society, locally or globally?

    How could we make the ‘war’ more effective?

    Most importantly, please answer this one because it’s destroying whole nations in S. America and other places (Russia and Mexico not the least):

    Do you think it best that the at least hundreds of billions of dollars spent globally on drugs currently go exclusively to criminals and terrorists who foster corruption and outright warfare to protect that income? How do you plan on stopping that hs? It’s only been getting worse for decades. (hint: getting consumers to ‘just say no’ is the current plan = epic fail)

    Because if you can’t answer that question, you are ignoring the costs of prohibition and your analysis is not worth anything because it only looks at the benefits. (hint: getting consumers to ‘just say no’ is the current plan = epic fail)

    Would it not be smarter to take the successful approach we have used with tobacco instead, with taxing it and having state funded education and support?

    You can say that the state does offer such support now, but it is compromised by the fact the people most in need of it, fear legal sanctions, and that much of the information is propagandistic nonsense (‘drugs of abuse’ indeed) that users find to be completely separate from their own personal experiences.

  58. higherstandard 58

    “I’m not arguing with you about the harm that drugs can cause. I’m arguing that prohibition achieves nothing and harm reduction can be better achieved where prohibition is ended.”

    Nice to see that you’ve amended your argument from where you were originally position…

    “Rex – We want it legalised. I don’t want to see some system of fines in place. It ought to be legal as should every other drug.”

    and

    “You may wish to disagree with the freedom of a person do with their own body what they wish, but it’s something I believe in. It’s also something MikeE coming from the opposite end of the economic/political spectrum as I agrees with. IMO P, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy,mescaline, LSD, BZP, PCP, DMT whatever it is if people want to take they shouldn’t be criminalised for it. ”

    Now there can be no doubt that your comment that prohibition achieves nothing is patently absurd when if prohibition wasn’t in place all those substances would be freely available to NZers to experiment and possibly become addicted to and become a considerable burden on and potential harm to society.

    In terms of harm reduction being better achieved when prohibition is ended it would be interesting to see the relative numbers of persons seeking assistance with their addictions because of the criminal justice system or of their own free will.

    PB

    Do you think the ‘war on drugs’ approach is actually working?

    With some drugs and in certain countries Yes in others No

    Are you happy with the current state of affairs re the effects of drugs on society, locally or globally?

    No

    How could we make the ‘war’ more effective?

    How about the death penalty for manufacture and supply ?

    I also find the example of tobacco to be odd…….. the suggestion would involve legalising and making more freely available harmful substances so we can then embark on a major campaign to educate people against using them .

  59. Pascal's bookie 59

    Dude, drugs are freely available now.And they are cut with all sorts of crap. It’s easier for kids to get P or pot than vodka. Why is that do you think?

    With some drugs and in certain countries Yes in others No

    cop out

    How about the death penalty for manufacture and supply ?

    Really? But not for anyone you know or their families aye? Oh no, it would be probably. No worries, you’ll pull the switch right?

  60. Quoth the Raven 60

    HS – How have I amended my argument? I haven’t. My position is the same as it always has been. All drugs should be legal. All I said was I’m not arguing about the harm they cause becasue I know they cause harm and you can spout statistics till you’re blue in the face. I’m saying prohibition isn’t doing a damn thing to reduce that harm all it’s doing is putting profits into the hands of gangs, drug cartels and terrorists, criminalising people that shouldn’t be, killing innocent people, and costing an immense amount of money. The drug war is absurd in the extreme. As PB points out and as I’ve said many times drugs are readily available and easily acquirable, prohibition has achieved nothing. The burden of proof is on you to show that it has and as yet you haven’t come up with anything that isn’t refutable.

  61. higherstandard 61

    PB

    “Drugs are freely available now” ……….. ah no they’re not

    “With some drugs and in certain countries Yes in others No”

    “As PB points out and as I’ve said many times drugs are readily available and easily acquirable, prohibition has achieved nothing.”

    So you are now arguing that the legalisation of all those drugs you listed (including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy,mescaline, LSD, BZP, PCP, DMT whatever) would not make them more easily acquirable what utter piffle.

    And with all due respect it is you who is arguing for a change to current law therefore it is for you to provide the burden of proof that legalisation will improve the drug problem. My opposition is the same as that of retired District Court judge Kenneth Gee QC “Legalisation is really a counsel of despair, almost irreversible once embarked upon. It should not be tried. It will not work.’

    And PB I don’t lecture at university.

  62. Quoth the Raven 62

    HS – I’ve come out with lots of facts to show that prohbition has been a complete failure. Read through my comments. You have yet to come up with one that I can not rebuke. Look at your little quote. Remember mine from Julian Critchley former head of the U.K’s anti-drug coordination unit:I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, government and voluntary sectors held the same view: the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the Government would be ‘tough on drugs’, even though they all knew that the Government’s policy was actually causing harm.
    Here are some quotes from LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:
    District Court Judge Whitman Knapp: After 20 years on the bench I have concluded that federal drug laws are a disaster. It is time to get the government out of drug enforcement.
    Retired Chief of Police Bob Owens: This country is long overdue in recognizing that not only have we lost the “war” on drugs but we have squandered billions of dollars and untold numbers of lives addressing a medical and societal problem using the criminal law
    Former Vancouver Police Officer Gilbert William Harold Puder: My belief that the war on drugs must end arises from the damage being done to both policing and the society it serves. The tactics, weaponry, and propaganda of our 20th Century narcotic prohibition have been borrowed from a Western military model, yet in their misguided application have generated nothing other than systemic conflict that has overwhelmed our justice and health care systems. Being a frontline police officer, I am deeply troubled by any example of counterproductive law enforcement. Talented officers diligently perform what many honestly believe to be their duty, placing themselves and others in harm’s way to intervene in matters of personal choice. Unwittingly, however, this merely raises the stakes in a game where criminal cartels meet the demand that our forefathers rather arbitrarily declared to be illegitimate. And while we attempt the impossible with increasingly limited resources, elected officials abdicate responsibility for legislation needed to reduce the harm to society. In a pointless civil war at the turn of the millenium, we need to, “unlearn the habits we have taught ourselves, or we shall not survive.” Rather than assigning victory or defeat, Canadians must fundamentally change the strategies of several interwoven social institutions, policing being the keystone among them.
    Judge Eleanor Levingston Schockett: I retired from the circuit bench Dec.31, 2002. (I served two six-year terms). I was referred to this organization by John Chase of the November organization. My interest in this subject dates back to 1958 when I wrote my senior paper at Tulane Law School on the administration of the drug laws in the United States. Matters have only gotten worse in the intervening years as I observed when in the Criminal Division of the Court. The main reason I did not take senior judge status is that I wanted to have my civil rights back, so I could speak out on political as well as judicial issues. I am in full agreement with your mission statement and would like to do whatever I can to contribute to a more responsible drug policy.
    There’s an article from her here when she came to NZ.

  63. Quoth the Raven 63

    HS – HS here are some videos for you to actually watch and I mean watch not like how you skim over my comments and misrepresent what I say and repeat things I’ve already covered.
    Counterproductivity: The Failure of the Drug War.
    American Drug War-Last White Hope Part 1 of 12

  64. higherstandard 64

    “I’ve come out with lots of facts to show that prohbition has been a complete failure.”

    No you’ve come out with lots of quotes from persons as have I – I think we’ll never agree on this issue as you stated above.

    Are you aware the Alaska’s residents voted in 1990 to recriminalize the possession of marijuana … hmm now why was that ?

    No offence but I won’t be watching the youtube videos.

  65. Quoth the Raven 65

    The Alaskans who vote for Sarah Palin as governor? The women who didn’t know Africa was a continent. It doesn’t surprise me that they wouldn’t vote for socially responsible legislation. I have given you lots of facts to debunk your claims not just quotes. That recent comment was just to show you that I can play the quote game too. Except that I can acutally link to the quotes so that you can verify them. And furthermore I haven’t been plagarising like you, as PB found out. You won’t watch the videos because you can’t handel the opposing argument can you because let’s face HS you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You provide one peice of solid evidence to the success of prohibition and I’ll shut up and leave this thread alone. Otherwise I’ll continue t debunk your claims and show you up as the ignorant fool that you are. I think the hypocrisy and contradictions that riddle your mind and those of other conservatives are subject to a wall of cognitive impenetrability because you can’t seem to accept reality. Here are some more facts for you from Drug war facts (they’re for the U.S.):
    It is important to note that each of the most violent episodes in this century coincide with the prohibition on alcohol and the escalation of the modern-day war on drugs. In 1933 the homicide rate peaked at 9.7 per 100,000 people, which was the year that alcohol prohibition was finally repealed. In 1980, the homicide rate peaked again at 10 per 100,000.

    Of the 1,841,182 arrests for drug law violations in 2007, 82.5% (1,518,975) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 17.5% (322,207) were for the sale or manufacture of a drug.

    Although people may think that the Drug War targets drug smugglers and ‘King Pins,’ in 2007, 47.4 percent of the 1,841,182 total arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana — a total of 872,720. Of those, 775,137 people were arrested for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000 a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 were for possession alone.

    “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.” Source: Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).

    “In 2003, a total of 20,687 persons died of alcohol-induced causes in the United States (Tables 23 and 24). The category ‘alcohol-induced causes’ includes not only deaths from dependent and nondependent use of alcohol, but also accidental poisoning by alcohol. It excludes unintentional injuries, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to alcohol use as well as deaths due to fetal alcohol syndrome.” Source: Hoyert, Donna L., PhD, Heron, Melonie P., PhD, Murphy, Sherry L., BS, Kung, Hsiang-Ching, PhD; Division of Vital Statistics, “Deaths: Final Data for 2003,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 54, No. 13 (Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, April 19, 2006), p. 10.

    “Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug. Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs, monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1,000 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). This would be equivalent to a 70 kg person swallowing 70 grams of the drug—about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high. Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose. In Britain, official government statistics listed five deaths from cannabis in the period 1993-1995 but on closer examination these proved to have been deaths due to inhalation of vomit that could not be directly attributed to cannabis (House of Lords Report, 1998). By comparison with other commonly used recreational drugs these statistics are impressive.” Source: Iversen, Leslie L., PhD, FRS, “The Science of Marijuana” (London, England: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 178, citing House of Lords, Select Committee on Science and Technology, “Cannabis — The Scientific and Medical Evidence” (London, England: The Stationery Office, Parliament, 1998).

    “There were 2.4 drug-related deaths per million inhabitants in the Netherlands in 1995. In France this figure was 9.5, in Germany 20, in Sweden 23.5 and in Spain 27.1. According to the 1995 report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon, the Dutch figures are the lowest in Europe. The Dutch AIDS prevention programme was equally successful. Europe-wide, an average of 39.2% of AIDS victims are intravenous drug-users. In the Netherlands, this percentage is as low as 10.5%.”

    You might find this graph interesting: Addictive Properties of Popular Drugs.

    An estimated 112,085,000 Americans aged 12 or over (46.1% of the US population aged 12 and over) report having used an illicit drug at least once in their lifetimes.

    “Overall, it is important to note that supply reduction — that is, reducing the availability of drugs — does not appear to have played as major a role as many had assumed in three of the most important downturns in illicit drug use that have occurred to date, namely, those for marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy (see Figures 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6). In the case of cocaine, perceived availability actually rose during much of the period of the downturn in use. (These data are corroborated by data from the Drug Enforcement Administration on trends in the price and purity of cocaine on the streets.) In the case of marijuana, perceived availability has remained very high for 12th graders over the past 31 years, while use dropped substantially from 1979 through 1992. Perceived availability for ecstasy did increase in association with its increasing use in the 1990s, but the decline phase for use appears to have been driven much more by changing beliefs about the dangers of ecstasy than by any sharp downturn in availability. Similarly, amphetamine use declined appreciably from 1981 to 1992, with only a modest corresponding change in perceived availability. Finally, until 1995, heroin use had not risen among 12th graders even though availability had increased substantially.”

    Interdiction efforts intercept 10-15% of the heroin and 30% of the cocaine. Drug traffickers earn gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of international drug shipments would need to be intercepted to substantially reduce the profitability of drug trafficking.

    To achieve a one percent reduction in U.S. cocaine consumption, the United States could spend an additional $34 million on drug treatment programs, or 23 times as much — $783 million — on efforts to eradicate the supply at the source.

    “Despite 2 years of extensive herbicide spraying [source country eradication], U.S. estimates show there has not been any net reduction in [Colombian] coca cultivation – net coca cultivation actually increased 50 percent.”

    “The long-run elasticities provide a basis for estimating potential benefits from changing the current policy mix away from enforcement and interdiction and towards education and treatment. Applying the estimated coefficients, a 10 percent reduction in expenditures on enforcement (about 1 billion dollars by the late 1990s) would be associated with a long-run reduction of over 20% in both the number of deaths and the age-adjusted death rate. This would imply that close to 3,000 deaths a year might be avoided with a shift away from enforcement approaches to drug control. Adding the billion dollars to education and treatment would represent an 18% increase in 1998. The estimated elasticity of 1.59 implies a reduction of close to 5,000 drug-induced deaths per year as a result. Thus, the underlying estimates suggest that very substantial improvements in public health may be achieved by emphasizing education and treatment over enforcement and interdiction.”

    A study by the RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs.

    The RAND Corporation study found that additional domestic law enforcement efforts cost 15 times as much as treatment to achieve the same reduction in societal costs.

    …and I could go on and on. Your turn.

  66. higherstandard 66

    Many thanks for my turn – it will be my last, but feel free to respond and let’s just accept that neither of us are likely to change our position.

    Let me restate why I am against legalisation of any and all drugs – or as you put it “IMO P, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy,mescaline, LSD, BZP, PCP, DMT whatever it is if people want to take they shouldn’t be criminalised for it.

    and

    ” We want it legalised. I don’t want to see some system of fines in place. It ought to be legal as should every other drug.”

    and

    ” One thing on that list: offensive language! I would hate to see the day you got a fine for offensive language. IMO there is no such fucking thing (libel is another matter). I don’t actually know what the laws are in New Zealand surrounding “offensive language’ but I do recall being in a fairly inebriated state and telling a police officer using a few choice words what I thought of her profession and merely getting an indifferent response.”

    oops discussion for another day perhaps, however I must admit to being quite prepared to tell kids off for f-ing and c-ing at each other and adults.

    Back to my point I am against legalisation for the following reasons

    1. This drugs cause harm to the individual taking them (some more than others obviously) – I think we are agreed on this point.
    2. People under the influence of these drugs may cause harm to themselves, others and property.
    3. Those likely to be at the highest risk of experimenting with these drugs are likely to be the younger members of society.
    4. Many of these drugs are addictive.
    5. Society is expected to clean up any attendant mess cause to or by individuals taking drugs.
    6. Legalisation of the currently illegal drugs clearly sends a message normalising their use.
    7. Legalisation and normalisation of any previously prohibited activity has tended to increase usage while restriction and prohibition have tended to have a reverse effect – (put another way make it easier to access and more people are likely to try it especially the youth – as a rather obtuse example imaging remving the speed limit how many (more) young men would be tempted to travel down the motorway at 200kmph)
    8. Legalisation in NZ would lead to a influx of for want of a better word “scum” of all sorts.

    As a discussion piece read the article below which ended with the comment..

    “I would not be proud if we were to be seen by our neighbors as a narco-state,” says the Public Health Ministry’s Dr. Bunning. “We don’t want people to come here just to gawk at the girls in the windows and get stoned. We have a culture and a history of which we are proud.”

    He sighs. “With drugs we are in the realm of theory. There is no simple solution to the drug problem. No one nation, not the U.S., not England, has the answer. But our solution in Holland is not ideal either.”

    As below……

    “The revised Dutch drug policy was based on Parliament’s 1976 acceptance of the recommendation of a commission headed by Pieter A. H. Baan, a psychiatrist and expert in rehabilitating drug addicts who was serving at the time in the Dutch Office of Mental Health. The Baan Commission’s report proposed distinguishing between so-called List One drugs-those that present “an unacceptable risk ( heroin, cocaine and LSD )”–and List Two drugs–cannabis products, such as hashish and marijuana–seen as less dangerous and “softer.” Essentially, Parliament depenalized the possession of 30 grams of marijuana or hashish–enough, the legislators calculated, to meet an average smoker’s needs for three months. At the same time, the parliamentarians vowed to continue the fight against both domestic and international trafficking in the more dangerous List One drugs.

    Shortly after accepting the commissions primary recommendation, Parliament went a step further by authorizing the commercialization of cannabis products through their open sale in a network of licensed coffee shops. Those shops were subject to a number of legal constraints: they were not allowed to sell more than 30 grams to a customer; no hard drugs were to be sold on their premises; and they were neither to advertise, sell to minors, nor operate within 500 meters of a school. Out of respect for Holland’s international treaty obligations, the import, export, production, or sale of cannabis products outside the coffee shops remained illegal.

    At the time the Baan Commission report was adopted, Holland had what was considered a serious heroin addiction problem, albeit one roughly comparable to that of its European neighbors. The nation was relatively untroubled by major international drug traffickers, with the exception of a number of Chinese “triads” ( gangs ) whose trafficking was pretty much confined to the Dutch marketplace. ”

    How has that situation changed today? First and most revealing, Holland ( in the words of senior customs and police officers in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium ) has become ‘the drugs capital of western Europe”–and not just of those soft drugs depenalized by the Dutch Parliament but also of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and now ecstasy.

    Britain’s Customs and Excise Department figures that 80 percent of the heroin seized in the United Kingdom either passed through or was temporarily warehoused in Holland. The Paris police estimate that 80 percent of the heroin consumed in the French capital comes from Holland. The forthcoming 1998 figures for France’s Central Office for the Repression of the Illegal Traffic in Drugs will, one of the organizations senior officers says, show “an explosion” of drugs coming into France from the Netherlands.

    Worse, the greatest drug problem facing European youth today comes from synthetic drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines that have spread across Europe like a virus since they were first introduced in Holland in 1987. British police estimate that a million of these pills are swallowed every weekend in British discos and clubs. Overwhelmingly, these synthetic drugs are coming from and being made in Holland. British customs states that virtually all the pills seized in the United Kingdom last year were manufactured in Holland or Belgium. Ninety-eight percent of the amphetamines seized in France in 1997 came from Holland, as did 73.6 percent of the ecstasy tablets. During an official briefing last summer, a senior Dutch police officer admitted to former General Barry McCaffrey, the U.S. drug-policy czar, that “Holland is to synthetic drugs what Colombia is to cocaine.”

    Holland’s emergence as the drug capital of Europe is not due solely to the decision by the Dutch government to commercialize the sale of cannabis products in the nation’s now-famous coffee shops. But many Europeans believe it is the consequence of the tolerant attitude toward drugs that grew out of that policy. That attitude, defined by Dutch foes of the policy as the “coffee-shop mentality,” now permeates Holland’s criminal justice system.

    “If you want to do drugs, Holland is the place to do them,” notes one of France’s top drug police officers. “The light sentences they hand out [and] the liberal attitude of their judges has resulted in an explosion in the number of international trafficking groups operating out of Holland.”

    As the coffee shops boomed between 1984 and 1996, marijuana use among Dutch youths aged 18 to 25 leapt by well over 200 percent. In 1997, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of registered cannabis addicts receiving treatment for their habit, as compared to a mere 3 percent rise in cases of alcohol abuse. In 1995, public Ministry of Justice studies estimated that 700,000 to 750,000 of Holland’s 15 million people–about 5 percent of the population–were regular cannabis users. A much more recent study just completed by Professor Pieter Cohen of the University of Amsterdam disputes those figures, claiming that only 325,000 to 350,000 Dutch men and women are regular cannabis users. Unfortunately, however, his survey discovered that those smokers are particularly concentrated among the young in densely populated areas of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. In the last three to four years, these same areas have witnessed a skyrocketing growth in juvenile crime and the number of youths involved in acts of violence associated by many Dutch law-enforcement officers with the abuse of “soft” drugs. With remarkable candor, Amsterdam Police Commissioner Jelle Kuiper declared more than 18 months ago, “As long as our political class tries to pretend that soft drugs do not create dependence, we are going to go on being confronted daily with problems that officially do not exist. We are aware of an enormous number of young people strongly dependent on soft drugs, with all the consequences that has.” A few months later, his counterpart in The Hague, the de facto Dutch capital, echoed his views: ‘Sixty-five percent of the persistent rise we are seeing in criminality is due to juveniles and above all juvenile drug users.”

    Today, according to Holland’s “grass guru,” Professor Adrian Jansen of the Economics Faculty of the University of Amsterdam, the annual Nederwiet harvest is a staggering 100 tons a year, almost all grown illegally. And it does not stay in the Netherlands. Perhaps as much as 65 tons of pot is exported–equally illegally–to Holland’s neighbors. Holland now rivals Morocco as the principal source of European marijuana. By the Dutch Ministry of Justice’s own estimates, the Nederwiet industry employs 20,000 people. The overall commercial value of the industry, including not only the growth and sale of the plant itself but the export of high-potency Nederwiet seeds to the rest of Europe and the United States, is 20 billion Dutch guilders, or about $10 billion–virtually all of it illegal and almost none of it subject to any form of Dutch taxation. The illegal export of cannabis today brings in far more money than that other traditional Dutch crop, tulips.

    In the 1970s, advocates of Holland’s coffee-shop policy argued that providing soft-drug users with a shopping outlet in which to buy their drugs would keep them from falling prey to drug-peddling criminals. At the same time, they would be corralled off from hard-drug users into a congenial environment of their own. Petty criminality would fall, and hard-drug consumption would be cut by offering young people an attractive alternative.

    That was the theory. Unfortunately, it did not work. A 1997 report on hard-drug use in the Netherlands by the government-financed Trimbos Institute acknowledged that “drug use is considered to be the primary motivation behind crimes against property”–23 years after the Dutch policy was supposed to put the brake on that. Furthermore, the Trimbos report put the number of heroin addicts in Holland at 25,000, a figure so low that critics of the government say it “Promotes a policy, not a reality.” That statistic is based, the skeptics note, on the number of heroin addicts who actually come into contact one way or another with the nation’s social or justice departments. The real figure, they maintain, is far closer to 35,000.

    But even if one accepts the Trimbos figures as correct, they represent almost a tripling of the number of Dutch addicts since the country liberalized its drug policies. They also mean that Holland has twice as many heroin addicts per capita as Britain, which is known for having one of the most serious heroin problems in Europe. Furthermore, the number of heroin addicts being treated in the methadone-maintenance programs run by the Ministry of Public Health went from 6,511 in 1988 to 9,838 in 1997, an increase of just over 50 percent–hardly an indication that heroin use has declined since the introduction of the coffee-shop law.

    Dutch supporters of their lenient soft-drug policy argue that cannabis does not inevitably thrust the heavy smoker across a threshold into hard drug use. They are right. There is no compelling physiological link between cannabis smoking and heroin use, and by no means do all heavy pot smokers move on to hard drugs. But in France, for example, 80 percent of heroin addicts also are heavy consumers of marijuana or hashish. Koopman of the Hope rehab center says more than 90 percent of the heroin addicts that his institute has treated developed their habit after first becoming habitual grass smokers.

    The sale of hard drugs at the coffee shops was strictly forbidden by the law that created them. That was an edict honored for years more in the breach than in the observance. Michel Bouchet, now an officer of the French Ministry of the Interior but for many years the head of the Paris narcotics squad, regularly sent his officers to Holland undercover to see if hard drugs were being sold in the coffee shops. Almost inevitably, they discovered that they were.

    Some European advocates of liberalizing drug laws, such as Paul Flynn, a Welsh Labour member of the British Parliament, argue that by making cannabis freely available to their youth, the Dutch have turned these kids away from heroin. And it is certainly true that in Holland, as in most other European countries, the heroin-addicted population is growing older. On the other hand, heroin addiction is usually a slow, insidious process; the youth who begins to consume it at 19 will probably take four to five years to reach the level of dependency that will force him or her to seek help.

    But Koopman, at Dordecht’s De Hoop rehab center, says that 40 percent of the 250 addicts awaiting treatment at his facility are younger than 25. You get the real answer about what is happening among young people in Holland from talking with young addicts in the Rotterdam headquarters of Storm’s Junkiebund. The picture that emerges is remarkably similar to the youth drug scene elsewhere in Europe today.

    “Kids are into everything now,” says Dominy, 32, who has been smoking heroin since he was 15. “When I came into the scene, it was just heroin. Now it’s coke, cannabis, ecstasy, speed, a blow of heroin to calm you down when you’re up too far.”

    The real drug concerns in Holland today, as in the rest of Europe, are the skyrocketing rise in pill-popping and Holland’s pivotal role in the manufacture and sale of ecstasy and amphetamine pills. Unfortunately, little is known about the long-term consequences of sustained ecstasy use. The best study so far, published in October 1998 in the British medical journal The Lancet, was done by the Biological Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Although the sample that the scientists employed in their study was small, it did reveal that prolonged, regular use of ecstasy can result in apparently irreversible damage to the serotonin receptors in the brain. The consequence could well be that some of today’s heavy ecstasy users may find themselves burdened with chronic depression later in life.

  67. Quoth the Raven 67

    HS – You make the point that many of these drugs are addictive which is of course true, but many are not. In particular the hallucinogens or psychedelics are usually not. For example LSD is not addictive. Another example is the strongest psychedelic known to man Salivia divinorum which is perfectly legal in this country have you noticed any problems Dr. Another point is the dependence and physical harm, etc does not I repeat does not correlate with a drugs legality. If you bother to watch the first video I linked to you’d have seen the results in the U.K of a study: “The study found little correlation between actual harm and legality. In fact, one researcher said “if alcohol were invented today… it’d be illegal” Statistically, U.K. drug laws have a 0.372 correlation value with harm: Which is not a statistically significant relationship.”

    Your talking again about decriminalisation of Cannabis. First of all if you bothered to read the article you linked to on that very subject you’d have found as I’ve already pointed out:
    In both countries, these so-called decriminalisation laws did not appear to have had a major impact on rates of use, as many feared that it might have.

    The presumed benefit of the criminalisation of cannabis possession is the deterrence of cannabis use. There is, however, little evidence of a strong deterrent effect. Substantial increases in marijuana use occurred in the 1960s and 1970s despite the application of criminal penalties for cannabis possession both in the U.S. (7, 23, 44) and in Australia (17). These trends in cannabis use do not constitute conclusive evidence regarding the lack of a deterrent effect, as it is not known whether rates of use might have increased even more if cannabis possession had not been prohibited. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that nonusers rarely cite fear of legal consequences as a reason for their nonuse (34, 44). Rather, the simple lack of interest or fear of adverse health consequences are the most commonly given reasons for abstention from cannabis use

    The available data indicate that these decriminalisation measures substantially reduced enforcement costs, yet had little or no impact on rates of use.

    Changes in rates of use appear to be more strongly connected with changing perceptions of health risks rather than availability or any changes in the legal status of the drug.

    Back to the Netherlands, I think you’ve once again come up with a complete fabrication 200% I think is as bullshit as your heroin in britain “facts” which I managed to debunk like all your other erroneous claims thus far. The quotes you provide are in acutal fact in no way damning. Here are some facts:
    The number of problem opiate/crack users seems to have remained relatively stable in the past ten years (3.1 per 1000 people aged 15-64 years). In the past decade, local field studies among traditional groups of problem opiate users have shown a strong in-crease in the co-use of crack cocaine, a reduction in injecting drug use, and an increase in psychiatric and somatic comorbidity.”(2007)
    Which supports what your article is saying despite Cannabis decriminalisation the Netherlands has had no increase in hard drug users and still has much lower use rates than most other western countires.

    The figures for cannabis use among the general population reveal the same pictures. The Netherlands does not differ greatly from other European countries. In contrast, a comparison with the US shows a striking difference in this area: 32.9% of Americans aged 12 and above have experience with cannabis and 5.1% have used in the past month. These figures are twice as high as those in the Netherlands.”
    So despite the U.S. tough stance towards Cannabis which sees thousands upon thousands of users, not dealers, locked up every year they still have a much higher rate of Cannabis use. So this is the main thrust of my argument; what has prohibtion achieved. If it is not doing anything to the number of users then what is the point in it. From the first video I linked to Lifetime prevalence student’s cannabis use: US 45% UK 33% Canada 29% Netherlands 28% Germany 27% Notice something? The countires with the more liberal policies (Netherlands, Germany and Canada) have lower Cannabis use.

    To the trafficking side of things. I don’t know what you’re getting at. First of all hard drugs started to become a problem in the seventies and in response to this the Netherlands started decriminalising what it viewed as natural drugs. It has always been a centre for drug trafficking in europe. heroin is trafficked thorugh the “balkan route.” The Netherlands also has an important role in cocaine trafficking from the carribean. It is afterall a major maritime nation. The fact that the Netherlands changed its drug policy in response to the hard drug poblem and the fact that use of hard drugs is now much lower in the Netherlands than other european nations makes me think that once again you don’t know what you’re talking about and don’t look at your spurious sources of information with anything of a critical eye, just as you did with your laughable british heroin “facts”. I for instance am reading much of what I just wrote off of The 202 page Report to the EMCDDA by the Reitoix National Focal Point The Netherlands Drug Situation 2006. Sorry no link it’s a pdf, just search for it. Which is to me not very recent, but then again the article which you quoted above which I found no thanks to you was from 1999. Back to your article. In the report I just mentioned it has the following facts relating to your article: XTC-production seems to spread to other countries (Belgium, Australia, Canada, Indonesia); the Netherlands still play an important role in XTC production.
    With regard to the production of ecstasy in laboratories in The Netherlands data suggest that this problem descends.
    Back to young people and Cannabis: The latest surveys indicated that drug use had stabilised or decreased among secondary school pupils between 1996 and 2003. A large-scale regional school survey in the South of the Netherlands revealed decreasing prevalence rates for all drugs between 2001 and 2005.

    Let me give my concluding statements in this tussle. Supply and demand; the supply of drugs is there and as I have shown you the war on drugs has done nothing to diminish that supply. The demand as I’ve always said is there and will remain there. The laws against a drug do not seem to deter a person’s demand for that drug and the U.S. is a case in point. You cannot diminish the demand for drugs anymore than you can diminsh the demand for sex. Ever since the war on drugs began demand for drugs has actually increased. If it has not achieved to decrease demand or supply then what on earth is the point of it? Under prohibition the supply of drugs is provided by gangs and drug cartels and has been used to fund terrorism. Ending prohibiton would take the profits out of the hands of these people. Drug profits also lead to massive cases of police corruption around the world this would also be finished with when the cartels are. Money spent on drug law enforcement could be spent on education, rehabiliatation and healthcare which as the studies by RAND in one of my earlier comments can attest gets better results for less money. Drug impurities kill many users, if prohibition was ended regulation would change that just like it did with alcohol after the end of prohibition in America. Drug addicts are sick and should not be treated like criminals. It has been shown that provision of drugs from the medical profession to addicts has had positive effects on use rates and deaths caused by these drugs, as we saw with Switzerland and the U.K before the drug war. The vast majority of drug users (this can be borne out by the sheer number of drug users see my ealier comments) are oridnary functioning members of society, who hold down jobs have families etc they should not be treated as criminals for their choice of pastime. Many drugs are not as harmful or addictive as legally available drugs, yet they are still illegal. This clearly demonstartes the arbitrary nature of drug laws. Durg prohibition is also a barrier to drug research. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop with this: Lastly what right does a government or conservative misfits such as yourself have to tell other people what they can or can’t do with their own bodies and ultimately their own minds?

  68. higherstandard 68

    “Lastly what right does a government or conservative misfits such as yourself have to tell other people what they can or can’t do with their own bodies and ultimately their own minds?”

    Well in my case it’s the medical degree – and I note that you comment that

    “It has been shown that provision of drugs from the medical profession to addicts has had positive effects on use rates and deaths caused by these drugs, as we saw with Switzerland and the U.K before the drug war.”

    So you appear to be suggesting that even under your proposal of legalisation that I (actually more likely colleagues in primary care and psychiatry) would still be telling people what they can or can’t do with their own bodies and ultimately their own minds.

    And the right of a government to tell people what they can or can’t do with their own bodies – as you well know this is based on the government’s perception of the risk, cost and harm.

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  • Membership: Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board
    The Governments of Australia and New Zealand have announced the membership of the Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board (ANZEIB) today. This is an important step towards implementing e-Invoicing across both countries to help businesses save time and money ...
    2 weeks ago
  • An end to unnecessary secondary tax
    Workers who are paying too much tax because of incorrect secondary tax codes are in line for relief with the passage of legislation through Parliament late last night. The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2018-19, Modernising Tax Administration, and Remedial Matters) ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chatham Islands pāua plan approved
    Efforts to reverse the decline in the Chatham Islands pāua fishery are the focus of a new plan jointly agreed between government, the local community and industry. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the plan was developed by the PauaMAC4 Industry ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bill introduced for synthetics crackdown
    The Police will get stronger powers of search and seizure to crackdown on synthetic drugs under new legislation, which makes the two main synthetics (5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA) Class A drugs. The Government has today introduced the Misuse of Drugs Amendment ...
    3 weeks ago