David Raynes. Executive Councillor UK National Drug Prevention Alliance wrote to the BBC following the Any Questions programme on BBC Radio 4 with the following response. Subsequently David appeared on the follow up programme.
ANY QUESTIONS BBC Radio 4. The drugs policy debate
Date: Sat, 4 Jun 2011
Since our organisation, the NDPA, was mentioned several times in the programme please allow me to respond.
Nadine Dorries was correct that much modern cannabis is stronger than years ago but we do not agree with her figures. Typically modern cannabis is three to four times stronger in THC (the psychoactive ingredient) than the /strongest/ cannabis of the 60s & 70s.
This has been achieved by selective breeding and in response to consumer demand. But the picture is more complex than /just/ THC strength, the presence (or rather absence in modern forms) of another chemical, CBD, appears to have aggravated the ever present brain damaging potential of cannabis.
Use has also changed, age of first use & regular use, is earlier than in the 60s and that is another damaging factor. The evidence caused theUKgovernment, with cross-party agreement, to reclassify cannabis upwards, two years ago.
With Prime Minister David Cameron saying, (SKY NEWS SUNDAY APRIL 6TH APRIL 2008) that a parliamentary committee of which he had been a member, had been wrong about lowering the classification of cannabis.
Lessons have been learned and are unlikely to be overturned. We say that cannabis contributes substantially to academic under achievement and very poor mental health, regardless of other effects.
On the wider question of decriminalisation and even legalisation of all drugs, the NDPA says that a monstrous, well financed and very slick fraud is being perpetrated internationally and that this fraud has fooled some of the “great & good” who have signed up as supporters.
There is no evidence at all that either measure could reduce the total harm from drugs. The reverse is very much the case, with academic opinion saying that either measure would inevitably normalise and increase, use. The manifest harm from the legal drugs and the legislation on alcohol & tobacco, as variously applied around the world, confirms that.
Comment from the panel on the good effects from decriminalisation was profoundly incorrect and just reflects implanted manipulative messages.
For years we have been bombarded with theNetherlands as THE example of sound drug policy, this despite the fact that the country, through it’s policies, created the largest base for drugs related criminality inEuropewith supply, warehousing, distribution and manufacture at astonishing levels. At one stage the Netherlandshad more drug related murder than anywhere else inEurope. The Netherlandsis changing, it spends proportionally more than the UK on enforcement and is currently more effective and better organised.
Portugaland decriminalisation appears now to be “the new orthodoxy” for those with a certain direction of travel and for those “user advocates” who want more freedom to use, regardless of the wider social effects.
ButPortugalis being misrepresented:
1. The number of new cases of HIV and Hepatitis C inPortugalis eight times the average in other EU countries
2 Portugal has the most cases of injected drug related AIDS with 85 new cases per one million citizens. Other EU countries averaging 5 per million.
3. Since decriminalisation, drug related homicides have increased 40%.
4. Drug overdoses have increased substantially, over 30% in 2005
5. There has been an increase of 45% in post mortems testing positive for illegal drugs
6. Amphetamine & cocaine consumption has doubled inPortugalwith cocaine seizures increasing sevenfold between 2001 and 2006.
Finally the suggestion that legalisation would somehow remove criminality from drug supply is ridiculous. Criminality loves use-reinforcing substances and behaviours. More than 20% of the UK tobacco market is smuggled, counterfeit, or both. In some other countries it is much worse.
Legalisation or decriminalisation, of substances unfit for human consumption, should only occur if a demonstrable “public good” can be evidenced.
The problem for the legalisation lobby is that it cannot.
David Raynes. Executive Councillor UK National Drug PreventionAlliance