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Former British Drug Czar Says Legalize It All

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #664)
Consequences of Prohibition

Former Home Office drug minister and former Defense Minister Bob Ainsworth has called for all illegal drugs, including cocaine and heroin, to be legalized. He told the House of Commons Friday that addicts should be prescribed heroin rather than allowing global criminal organizations to handle and get rich from the illicit drug trade.

Bob Ainsworth breaks ranks with drug prohibition. (image courtesy Wikimedia)
Ainsworth called in the House of Commons for a fundamental rethink of British drug policy. Ainsworth's call was met with support from some MPs from all parties, but was roundly criticized by his own Labor Party.

Ainsworth served as head of drug policy under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and as Blair's defense minister, he oversaw the British effort to eliminate opium planting in Afghanistan.

"Prohibition has failed to protect us. Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harm to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit," Ainsworth said in remarks reported by The Independent. "We spend billions of pounds without preventing the wide availability of drugs. It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children. We must take the trade away from organized criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."

Ainsworth said his experiences in Afghanistan had been an education. "Bombs and bullets and the wherewithal to produce IEDs are bought by funds supplied by international drugs," he said. A massive NATO occupation had failed to stamp out the heroin traffic, he said, so it was now time to consider "taking the market away" by legalizing drugs.

Former deputy Conservative leader Peter Lilley said he favored legalizing marijuana, while continuing to keep hard drugs illegal. Still, he supported Ainsworth's call for a reexamination of British drug policy. "I support Bob Ainsworth's sensible call for a proper, evidence-based review, comparing the pros and cons of the current prohibitionist approach, with all the alternatives, including wider decriminalization, and legal regulation."

"This could be a turning point in the failing UK 'war on drugs,'" said Labor MP Paul Flynn, a legalization supporter.

But Labor's leadership was quick to distance itself from Ainsworth's remarks. "Bob's views do not reflect Ed's views, the party's view or indeed the view of the vast majority of the public," a spokeswoman for Labor Leader Ed Miliband said.

Ainsworth's remarks were "extremely irresponsible," said an unnamed party source. "I don’t know what he was thinking."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


DaveMan50 (not verified)

Hoo Ra Thanks Bob. I agree with him completely. All illegal drugs should be made legal!

Wed, 12/22/2010 - 4:39pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

This week, after years of drought and billion dollar fires, heavy rains threaten landslides in California.  And former Defense Minister Ainsworth discusses his experiences trying to fight the opiate racket in Afghanistan which funds terrorism worldwide.

The good news is that some Afghan farmers get it, and have been switching from opium to cannabis.  In the 1970's Afghanistan was known for some of the world's best hashish, but the USA and its friends suppressed that business and we got heroin instead-- over 90% of world supply produced in Afghanistan.  How about that for a military victory story.

In June 2010, in California, a company announced that it was successfully producing something like a cannabinoid e-cigarette.  For the time being, sales were said to be restricted to a few dispensaries locally.

California and the USA could legalize cannabis and encourage mass production of cannabinoid e-cigarettes, a single-puff dosage system widely agreed to be safer than hot burning overdose $igarette (or joint) smoking.  The USA and UK could send advisors to Afghanistan to help farmers switch from poppy to cannabis production and help develop a worldwide export e-cigarette industry to get Afghanistan on its feet economically and eliminate the basis of insurrection and terrorism.  Instead of "enforcing" nicotine addiction by keeping the cannabis price artificially high compared with tobacco $igarettes, our DEA could "enforce" conversion from the hot burning 700-mg. $igarette format to low-dosage vaporizers, e-cigarettes and one-hitters (25-mg. serving size), making all "drug" worries moot.

Finally, California could hire hundreds of thousands of underemployed Afghans (and other labor, especially domestic) to clip, hack, saw, log, bundle, transport dead wood out of drought-affected zones heading off future fires and mudslides.  The best lumber can be lovingly used for construction, carpentry and manufactured products in place of killed live tree lumber, a business that deserves to be exterminated.  Shreds and chips can be used for cartpath grading and erosion control.  Pulverized "wood flour" can be shipped all over the world for use in dry composting latrines ending the disposal of human waste in water resources and saving up to 3 million lives a year.  (Eliminating $igarettes will save 6 million a year.)

Defense Secretary Gates can confer with British and other counterparts and develop a program where military forces now patrolling Afghanistan can serve as camp security at mass labo(u)r programs in California, Brazil, Australia and other participant fire-endangered nations, saving the world economy trillions of dollars and protecting the rainforests.

Get busy promoting something like this and someday Borden Guard Smith Morgan will share a Nobel Prize (1.5 million smackers) with Ainsworth, Tony Blair (who can oversee getting underemployed Israelis and Palestinians into the program) and George W. Bush who can preside over the program of putting megatons of bushes into seasonally dry streambeds to increase retention of water in drought-threatened uplands ("Bushwater").

Wed, 12/22/2010 - 7:20pm Permalink
Dogs217 (not verified)

Finally some common sense on drug policy. I also believe that there should be total legalisation of all drugs. If an addicted person wants to continue their addiction, they should be able to do so without having to resort to stealing and robbing to do it. They should be under a Dr.'s care, and be offered rehabilation everytime they fill a prescription. They should be responsible for some kind of public service while using,  ie; picking up litter or removing graffitti for several hours a week. It's nobodies business what an adult takes into their bodies. This should be a public health issue, not a criminal issue.

Wed, 12/29/2010 - 12:32pm Permalink
zara (not verified)

If you watch ( Heroin on the nhs ) on youtube, its complete proof that the war on drugs is a complete failure, and in trials in a few countrys like switzerland where they have legalised, crime rate has fallen by 80%, and addiction fallen by 90%, i mean HELLO!! its time to think the unthinkable, and give addicts proper health care. The tax payer spends 3 million a day in Britian fighting the war on drugs, and crime rate is on the increase. There needs to be a radical change, as there is proof that if it were to be legalised in the proper manner, everyone would be in a win win situation.

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 11:34am Permalink
Dr Andre Waismann (not verified)

In reply to by zara (not verified)

It is almost impossible to calculate, the profound economic damage that one addict will generate from the moment he developed the dependency, to the moment he dies.
The Important fact is that ,almost all addicts will make several attempts to cure themselves.

The question we must ask is:
Are we the medical community , the decision makers, providing those people the level of care they need ?
Are we fighting this disease with the proper tools ? 
The answer is no.

What would happen if we could find a way to reverse opiate dependency ?

What if it would be possible, to provide the sick, a medical treatment that would cure the physical need for the drug and ,would take away even the mental hunger for it. (cravings)

If this would be possible, how much money The Governments would save? How many new addicts would never fall into the addiction pushed by another lost soul ?

Today, With Modern Medicine we can achieve just that.
I have treated over 14000 opiate dependent patients.
Millions every year on research. The same 50 year old treatments.... 
Methadone treatments, were relevant when medicine could not fully understand what really happens to the brain receptors, after continuos opiate intake.
Patients could overcome withdrawals but most, would relapse due to severe cravings. 
Today, we know that the dependency is stablished once the balance of endorphin and receptors are compromised. 
Today we know, that cravings are a psychological manifestation of a medical condition at the receptor level. 
Modern medicine can reverse both conditions allowing dependent patients to be free and healthy again.
It can be done ,but till now most people are not aware of that. 
People should know, they can be free and resume a healthy life.

Each day that we don't provide effective treatment to those who needs it ,we are allowing this "Vampire Monster" to grow and waste more and more of our resources.

Sat, 01/01/2011 - 7:46pm Permalink

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