Scotland has a drugs issue– and it’s called Westminster|Simon Jenkins

July 19, 2019 by erfa5t8

Scotland’s drug death rate can not be shelved as just another torment statistic. It has risen by 27% in a year and is three times England and Wales’s rate, 50 times Portugal’s and greater even than that of the United States. Westminster is clearly deaf to this catastrophe. There is only one option. Declare it Scotland’s problem.

Let Scotland choose what to do. Every nation in the industrialized world is now asking, experimenting, looking for how to tame the threat that contemporary narcotics pose. Every country, that is, except Britain, where for half a century an useless “war on drugs” has been delegated to the cops, the courts and the NHS. The sole beneficiaries have been drug dealerships and their political sponsor, Her Majesty’s Home Office, relieved of raising a finger in response.

It is their policies that underpin the street sales and powder factories of a multibillion-pound underground industry

There is now little point in preaching the gospel of legalisation. Countless seminars, conferences and queries have actually attempted to exercise how finest to deal with Britain’s flourishing drugs industry, genuine and illegal. They never resolve the root of the problem, the minds closed to the subject in Westminster and Whitehall. We can yell “look to the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, California”, and MPs and authorities secure their hands to their ears. These people and not the addicts or dealers are Britain’s drugs issue. It is their policies, dating from the old 1971 Abuse of Drugs Act, that underpin the street corner sales, powder factories, shooting galleries and lightly dusted lavatory seats of what the act has actually turned into a multibillion-pound underground industry. It is an industry Whitehall declines to regulate, let alone tax. Public servants who, in their home life, might be open to reason, at work end up being architects of ruthlessness, well-illustrated in the cynical handling of in 2015′s medical cannabis scandal, which is still unresolved. As in so many of areas of its responsibility, the Home Office shows the open-mindedness of a Spanish Inquisition. Reform must search for weak points in the wall of response.

Chief weakness is the frontline, where criminalisation is collapsing through large unenforcibility. Led by Durham, one force after another is declining to apprehend its escape of the drugs problem. London’s commissioner, Cressida Dick, states she would require” an army of 100,000 officers” to look for and charge all the capital’s drug users. Anarchy may yet prove the most efficient representative of change. However even a tried shift from imprisonment to care and rehabilitation struggles with the stable closure of treatment centres under regional authorities’ austerity. Like ever increasing substance abuse in prisons, it is as if British federal government was looking for to aid an industry with which it claims to be at war. Liberal Britain eases its anti-Brexit fury by labelling Donald Trump’s United States antediluvian. Yet even Trump is not imposing federal restrictions on states that experiment

with marijuana law reform. Thirty-three states have legalised medical or recreational usage, as has Canada. An industry worth numerous billions of dollars is going genuine, as did alcohol with completion of restriction. Visitors arriving at Los Angeles airport are welcomed with an ad for California’s chief marijuana retailer, MedMen. It checks out:” Welcome to the brand-new typical.” Half of Oakland’s marijuana licences now go to previously sent to prison dealerships. Colorado, a state the exact same size as Scotland, reports profits from its cannabis tax passing$ 1bn in 5 years of operation . Could Scotland not utilize such cash? The American experience is not all roses. It has a big” difficult” substance abuse issue, partly due to the intro of new opioids and other compounds. Scotland records huge increase in drug-related deaths Read more

However slowly drugs are happening viewed as a social, not a law-and-order issue

, with control and legal policy the reasonable reaction. At least cannabis is being gotten rid of from the drugs cocktail. Research reveals no rise in marijuana usage with legalisation, while California reveals an 8% fall among teenage users. Britain is light years adrift of such reform. The one hope might be Scotland. It currently delights in a degree of devolved power over criminal activity and penalty. This spring it publicised its exceptional success in combating knife killings. It had cut in half the rate in 10 years, largely thanks to violence decrease schemes copied from Los Angeles and Boston. Also, a project against alcohol-related deaths exploited delegated powers to impose regional taxes. An increase in minimum market prices has actually driven Scottish alcohol usage to an all-time low. Both these initiatives were timeless examples of local discretion resulting in reform, where central government policy was stuck in a political rut. Yet, since devolution, the Office has actually declined to permit Scotland power to differ the 1971 drugs act. With its antique schedules and inadequate penalties, this act echoes the days of stocks, thumbscrews and treadmills. To the Home Office it is holy writ. Scotland has a desperate issue. Scenes of addicts on its streets will hardly draw in investors, companies or travelers

. Yet it has a fully grown administration with a proven readiness to browse the world for solutions to its issues. Its authorities chiefs, law officers, academics and papers are pleading to be permitted to take on the drugs crisis on their own. Marijuana legalisation might belong to a service. Prescription heroin and cocaine might be another. That ought to be for Scotland to choose. Parliament can keep to its medieval

taboos. It can sail blithely on through its dark night of reaction. However it has failed entirely to win the war on drugs in Scotland. The least it can do is set Scotland totally free. – Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist Subjects Scotland
Opinion

Drugs

Drugs policy

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