04 October 2012 at 14:08 BST

The war we never fought

Since the 1970s, consecutive British governments have abandoned all attempts to prohibit the use and sale of illegal drugs while employing strong anti-drug rhetoric towards the public.

Anyone seen Hitchens?

That is the central and controversial claim of Peter Hitchens’ new work, which traces the dissolution of Britain’s drug prohibitions over the past 40 years. With the adoption of the Wootton report in 1971, cannabis was granted a ‘soft drug’ status, which drastically reduced penalties for selling the substance and effectively legalised marijuana for private consumption. Usage and drug-related arrests soared exponentially.

Unsafe at any dose

It is often argued that if drug laws were relaxed or abolished, the critical link between criminality and drug use would be weakened; drugs are recreational and not the business of the state. Long a voice of opposition to the decriminalisation of drugs, Mr Hitchens argues that this attitude is scientifically baseless, and that ‘even in their pure form, there is no safe dose’.
Government-funded treatment programmes and the prescribing of methadone to users cost taxpayers an annual £300 million, a figure only slightly smaller than the £380m spent to control the supply of drugs and prosecute their use. According to the author, to stem the flow of illegal substances, the British government must get as tough on drugs as it says it is.

Published by: Continuum
Author: Peter Hitchens
September 2012 H/B £16.99
ISBN: 9781441173317



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