Monday, November 09, 2009

UK sacking backfires on prohibitionists

The British government must be regretting the sacking of its chief drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt. This heavy-handed attempt to gag the facts of the drugs debate has backfired -- an international media storm has broken out with most pieces mentioning Prof Nutt's argument that taking ecstasy is less dangerous than equestrian horse riding.

This is not the 'message' prohibitionists want spread about.  While they and the tabloid rags have been forced to retreat to a very suspect argument that Science is one thing and Policy is another, throwing the term 'evidence-based' out the window, the debate nevertheless rages on. A new piece in The Guardian not only collects a lot of evidence to show that tough-on-drugs policies (including alcohol) don't reduce drug use, but it also lists some unquestionable harms of prohibition.

Meanwhile the editor of Horse & Hound commented in a BBC News analysis that "Most people accept riding is a risk sport. The reward and the thrills more than make up for it."

A blog entry on the Release site picks this up, venturing into into previously unmentionable ground by stating that the risks of drugs, like horse-riding, can also be weighed up against their benefits, writing:
Every weekend millions of UK citizens perform the same kind of cost-benefit calculation in relation to their drug use. “Doing an E tonight? Yes, there are risks, but the reward and the thrills more than make up for it,” says the blog post.
This is heresy to prohibitionists who pretend that drugs have no benefits, or at least that the harms greatly outweigh them. How many times have you heard them say "Drugs ruin lives and destroy families"? Not for the vast, vast majority of users, they don't, any more than horse-riding, car driving or mountain-climbing.

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