Friday, March 23, 2007
Drugs policy back in the spotlight then.
Unlike some here I am not entirely happy with the ‘legalise everything’ initiatives on drugs control and de-restrictions on alcohol availability. OK, this may make me a bad Liberal.
But I would be happier if advocates for such policies dealt with issues raised by Griffiths Edwards in his thoughtful books. For example, examine carefully his suggestion that US ‘prohibition’ of alcohol was not the complete social disaster and incubator of organised criminality that modern drugs campaigners automatically assume. Edwards says:
“On the basis of a misreading of history, the attempted prohibition of alcohol is deemed to have been a catastrophe and it is then argued as if by axiom that existing controls over illicit drugs should be got rid of. One could in fact draw a precisely opposite inference for drug controls from the alcohol experience, but either kind of simple reading would be equally facile. The truth is that controls work to the health benefit when actively enforced and publicly supported. The lesson is also that controls will have their downside as well as their desired outcomes”
Edwards (2000) p92
The two Griffith Edwards books I think are central to any realistic drugs debate are:
Edwards (2000) “Alcohol; the world’s favourite drug”
Edwards (2005) “Matters of Substance: Drugs; is legalisation the Right Answer – or the Wrong Question” (For some reason titled in the USA as “Matters of Substance – drugs, and why everyone is a user”)
I hope for (but actually do not expect) an evidence–based national debate on all this, as called for by our own Evan Harris MP.
Griffith Edwards is Commissioning Editor of the ‘Addiction Journal’.