Prisons and Probation
Youth Justice Board
Prof. Rod Morgan Former Chair of Youth Justice Board
David Hingston former Scottish procurator fiscal
King County Bar Association Washington State, USA
Tom Wood Scotland's Drug Tsar and a former deputy chief constable
Wood said: "I spent much of my police career fighting the drugs war and there was no one keener than me to fight it. But latterly I have become more and more convinced that it was never a war we could win.
"We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that. So the message has to be more sophisticated than 'just say no' because that simple message doesn't work.
"For young people who have already said 'yes', who live in families and communities where everybody says 'yes', we have to recognise that the battle is long lost."
He added: "Throughout the last three decades, enforcement has been given top priority, followed by treatment and rehabilitation, with education and deterrence a distant third. In order to make a difference in the long term, education and deterrence have to go to the top of the pile. We have to have the courage and commitment to admit that we have not tackled the problem successfully in the past. We have to win the arguments and persuade young people that drugs are best avoided."
Source: The Scotsman June 2006
Dennis Bradley Former Vice-Chairman of the Police Force of Northern Ireland
"It might be time to legalise drugs. It might be time to create outlets, licensed and under government control, to supply drugs to those who are already addicted and to those who wish to dabble in drugs.
Source: Irish News, 6 Feb 2009
Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom Serving Chief Constable of North Wales
"My view as a police officer is the current regime is untenable and it is not going to be successful any more than controlling alcohol was through prohibition in the US. We are making it easy for organised crime,"
"We are persuading people to buy guns and protect their investment because there is so much money to be made from the drugs trade. We are turning people who want to abuse their bodies into criminals. Why should they be criminals? Why should we force them to mug my granny for money in order to abuse their bodies? We are making it worse not better."
Source: Daily Post, 30/01/2003
Tom Lloyd Former Chief Constable of Cambridge
"One thing is for sure - the current system is not working. We need to start thinking hard about the best way of tackling a problem that has been spiralling out of control for the last 30 or 40 years.
"Major drug dealers are running very successful businesses. They have ready access to large supplies of cheap products produced, largely, in some of the poorest parts of the world. They have a willing network of salespeople, often users them-selves, and they can sit back and rake in the cash with very little risk to themselves.
"Even though excellent policing and the opportunity to seize assets from criminals can be effective, the effects are limited and the continuing misery caused by the drugs trade is readily apparent."
"If the rewards available to dealers are undermined by making drugs available to those desperate to get them at no cost; if these criminals, therefore, cannot profit from selling drugs then there is no motivation for them to stay in business. They would go bust. This is very different from legalising drugs. In fact, tightening restrictions on drug use outside authorised channels would be necessary to support the new approach. This is about taking the control of drugs in this country out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of responsible authorities. There should still be severe punishment for unauthorised production, dealing and use.
"If the dealer is not going to make anything out of it then they will not be prepared to take the risks involved and their business will be destroyed.
"I know that many might disagree with the prospect of the Government taking over the supply of drugs; I also know that many are horrified by the harm and degradation caused by what's happening at the moment.
Jim Duffy Inspector, Chairman Strathclyde Police Federation
”We should legalise all drugs currently covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act – everything from class A to C, including heroin, cocaine and speed.
“We are not winning the war against drugs and we need to think about different ways to tackle it. Tell me a village where they are drug-free?”
“Despite the amount of resources and the fantastic work our girls and guys do, we are not making a difference. We don't have any control at the moment.
Source: Scottish Daily Mail April 2006
“Political lethargy, indifference and fear of the debate are the established bulwarks protecting today's dangerously failing policy of prohibition. 'Transform' promotes an open debate and, with it, the associated wider public knowledge and choice of options. Political inaction cannot continue to withstand exposure to informed questioning. As society recognises the widespread costs of prohibition they will condemn and abandon both the harmful status-quo and its pious defenders.”
“Legalisation provides a better policy to support, educate and reduce harm, eliminate the motive for over half society’s crime, reduce the profits, power and danger of the criminal supply chain, quality control the product and exchange condemnation and persecution for compassion and understanding. Legalisation of heroin would be my first priority.”
“Relaxing the laws on drugs would result in large financial savings which could be used for education and treatment. Criminals would be hit as selling illicit drugs would become unprofitable. [Instead, we continued down] the same well-trodden path which we all know does not work. The truth is that we are frightened and lack the political will.”
“If the (drug) problem continues advancing as it is at the moment, we’re going to be faced with some very frightening options. Either you have a massive reduction in civil rights, as you try and drive the problem underground or you have to look at some radical solutions. The issue has to be - can a criminal justice system solve this particular problem?”
Source: Channel 4, 1997
"Western governments ... will lose the war against dealers unless efforts are switched to prevention and therapy... All penalties for drug users should be dropped ... Making drug abuse a crime is useless and even dangerous ... Every year we seize more and more drugs and arrest more and more dealers but at the same time the quantity available in our countries still increases... Police are losing the drug battle worldwide."
Source: January 1994
“The only solution to the drug problem is the legalisation of all drugs. If this is too radical and too much opposed to received wisdom and decades of conditioning then perhaps we could begin by repealing the laws against the drug which has been shown by several impartial investigations to be at least no more harmful than alcohol, and whose use causes the most conflict between users and the law: cannabis.“
Source: Police Review 28/2/92
"It's inevitable, in due course, that [cannabis] legalisation will happen," he said.
"If you look at how society has moved on, I think there will be a lifting of restrictions on cannabis but there will still need to be controls on the sale. The market would have to be controlled effectively, with age limits. I wouldn't want my 12-year-old daughter being able to light up a joint of cannabis."
Mr Phillips, the former drugs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, admitted that if he was at a friend's house and someone there lit up a joint, he would do nothing.
"I wouldn't say anything and I wouldn't do anything at all," he said.
Source: Victoria Brenan, Cumberland News, UK 13.10.00
“If a sufficiently large (and apparently growing) part of the population chooses to ignore the law for whatever reason, then that law becomes unenforceable. A modern western democracy, based on policing by consent and the rule of law may find itself powerless to prevent illegal activity - in this case the importation and use of controlled drugs.”
“A number of tentative conclusions can be drawn from the available
- Attempts to restrict availability of illegal drugs have failed so far, everywhere
Source: UK Drug Policy Report by Barry Shaw to the Cleveland Police Authority (2000)
Tom Stoddart Detective Superintendant Cleveland Police
He said by prescribing heroin in a controlled environment on the NHS it would destroy the market for dealers.
"The question is are we going to win the battle against organised crime?
"This will help to do this, along with action programmes to prevent young people coming into contact with the world of drug abuse."
He said the scheme would help take the profitability out of drug dealing and addicts could also be helped to wean themselves off drugs.
"If we can take the profit element out of it, it will go a good way to dealing with the problem", he said.
Source: BBC News 15 July 2006
“There have to be very stringent measures over the production and supply of drugs and we have got to remove the drug market from criminals. I do not want people to take drugs but if they are going to, I want them to take them safely, with a degree of purity and in a controlled way.”
Source: 'Yard chief calls for drugs trade to be legalised’ Sunday Telegraph 18/05/03
"I was a senior police office for over 20 years, and often asked for my view on the legalisation of drugs. Intuitively I knew that prohibition wasn't working - the experience of the USA seemed to be repeating itself over here. But I didn't have all the facts at my finger tips, and trying to explain this in a short answer was well-nigh impossible. Now Transform has produced a report which is a blinding statement of the obvious, with all the evidence to support it. As an economist I have always thought it ludicrous that governments which talk about espousing the strengths of the market should allow criminals to make so much money when the remedy was so easy. Now we have a chance to make this country safer for all, particularly our children and grandchildren, by removing the motive for drug dealers to get them hooked. I just hope that those in positions of responsibility, whether elected or otherwise, will have the courage to seize it."
Francis Wilkinson Former chief constable of Gwent (Transform Patron)
"I firmly believe that there is the possibility of real social benefit through effective, well-regulated legalisation. In the last 3 years the debate on legalisation has gained a new momentum and respectability, and Transform has been at the heart of these exiting developments."
Cleveland Police Authority
The Scottish Police Federation
"Many officers believe the 33-year-old act is not only outdated, but dangerous and harmful, both to addicts and to recreational drug users, as it focuses on locking up small-time offenders whilst inadvertently granting the monopoly of drug supply to high-ranking criminals,"
Source: Morrie Flowers, Federation Chairman - comments reported in the Scotsman.
Lord Ramsbotham Chief Inspector of Probation (at the time of quote, since retired)
Sir David Ramsbotham told the BBC that "exposure to what the drug culture has done to the people I am seeing in prison, their families and the community from which they come" had convinced him of the need for drastic action.
"I think there is merit in legalising and prescribing so people do not have to go and find an illegal way of doing it.
"The more I think about it and the more I look at what is happening, the more I can see the logic of legalising drugs, because the misery that is caused by the people who are making criminal profit is so appalling and the sums are so great that are being made illegally."
Source: BBC news - 09/07/01
"In 1979, Napo called for the abolition of the possession of cannabis as a criminal offence. This was based on the view that there was no evidence to suggest that the social use of cannabis was dangerous or linked to criminal activity. At that time Napo took no view on the desirability of decriminalisation for the possession of other illicit substances.
" Napo has formed the view that treating substance abuse as a fundamental criminal act is deeply flawed."
"Napo believes therefore that criminal proceedings should not be initiated for possession of small amounts of any drug for personal consumption, nor for the growing of small amounts of cannabis. Napo base this belief on the fact that there is no evidence that punishment or imprisonment reduces drug misuse, but on the contrary that access to treatment reduces criminal behaviour. "
"There is in Napo view a clear need for investment in effective systems of treatment, regulation and control. Transform the campaign for effective drugs policy "have argued for . . ." an independent agency to oversee production supply and use of drugs. Napo understands that they argue that state manufacture and control would eliminate the criminal market.
Prof. Rod Morgan Former Chair of Youth Justice Board
David Hingston Former Scottish procurator fiscal
"By having it underground, we have less control and the fact of the matter is that we are not winning this war against drugs."
He added that if drugs were controlled legally then people "would also have some idea of what they are buying".
Source: Lawyer in 'legalise drugs' call BBC News online 19.08.05
Judge James Pickles Former English Circuit judge
"I just think they should legalise it [cannabis] and get on with it. In all the criminal cases I have ever done, no violent crimes came as a result of someone smoking pot. It was usually huge quantities of drink.
"Everyone uses it, captains of industry, middle-aged mothers, everyone. The idea that these people should have criminal records is absurd."
Source: Joanna Bale, Lewis Smith and Michael Horsnell, ‘Cannabis proposal is widely welcomed’ The Times. 24/10/01
“This is not in support of drugs, but rather a focus to take away business from corrupt narco-dealers. But it must be collaborative. We must combine it with education and treatment.”
“The police arrested the drug traffickers, dismembered cartels, confiscated property, destroyed laboratories, intercepted drug shipments and, in spite of all that, nothing happened in the general panorama of the drug fight, because it kept coming to the consumer markets, among those, the most important, in the United States. The business is so profitable that if you disintegrate one cartel, other narco-traffickers take its place in the market.”
“It was an evolution over a long period of time,” Crispin told Sydney Star Observer. “I began thinking that the present approach of prohibition was the right one, but I gradually came to see through being constantly confronted by court cases that it wasn't working.
Source: Star Observer
In fact, the war on drugs has proven a spectacular failure. The number of drug
Source: PDF here
Source: The Independent here
King County Bar Association
"The King County Bar Association has concluded, in consideration of the findings enumerated below, that the establishment of a new legal framework of state-level regulatory control over psychoactive substances, intended to render the illegal markets for such substances unprofitable, to restrict access to psychoactive substances by young persons and to provide prompt health care and essential services to persons suffering from chemical dependency and addiction, will better serve the objectives of reducing crime, improving public order, enhancing public health, protecting children and wisely using scarce public resources, than current drug policies.
Source: KCBA drug policy project website: http://www.kcba.org/druglaw/index.html
See also: the KCBA report:
Effective Drug Control: Toward A New Legal Framework (citing Transform)
"Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country and the internal sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. A system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy.
"The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition."
Judge James P. Gray Superior Court of Orange County, California
"I saw the heartbreaking results of drug prohibition too many times in my own courtroom. I saw children tempted by adults to become involved in drug trafficking for $50 in cash, a lot of money to a youngster in the inner city, or almost anywhere else. Once the child's reliability has been established in his roles as a lookout or “gofer,” he is soon trusted to sell small amounts of drugs, which, of course, results in greater profits both for the adult dealer and his protégé. The children sell these drugs, not to adults, but to their peers, thus recruiting more children into a life of taking and selling drugs. I saw this repeated again and again. But like others in the court system, I didn't talk about it."
"Drug Prohibition has resulted in a greater loss of civil liberties than anything else in the history of our country. The United States of America leads the world in the incarceration of its people, mostly for non-violent drug offenses. Statistics show that all racial groups in our country use and abuse drugs at basically the same rate, but most of those incarcerated are people of color. The War on Drugs has contributed substantially to the increasing power, bureaucracy, and intrusiveness of government. And, of course, the sale of illicit drugs is by far the largest source of funding for terrorists around the world. If we were truly serious about fighting terrorism we would kill the “Golden Goose” of terrorism, which is Drug Prohibition."
Source:Liberty magazine - read complete article here http://judgejimgray.com/gpage2.html (includes an endorsement of the libertarian party - note Transform is not aligned to any political party or group)
“The Drug War cannot stand the light of day. It will collapse as quickly as the Vietnam War, as soon as people find out what’s really going on.”
Eric Sterling (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) member & President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation)
“most drug use does not produce victims. Most drug use results in no harms. Certainly however there are hundreds of thousands of cases in which people abuse drugs -- just like alcohol, and the families are victims. But prohibition doesn't offer society, or the families of the victims any better protection than a system of regulation and control.
Marijuana is perhaps the easiest in that it is most like alcohol as a mass consumed drug. Potency would be labeled. Taxes would be set. Advertising would be prohibited -- sorry to all my ACLU brethren. Sales to minors would be prohibited. As part of all of this, I would encourage -- and if I were drug czar -- I would fight for stricter controls on alcohol and tobacco with an end to vending machines.
My approach is not to make drugs more available than they are now. They are plenty available under prohibition because the criminal profits are so great. Anybody can sell drugs today, anywhere. Under a system of regulation you try to reduce access. Medicalization of heroin use, for example, will shrink the criminal market. Those who are addicts are the overwhelming largest portion of the market. If they are being supplied reasonably priced -- meaning actual production costs plus reasonable profits -- drugs, perhaps 80% of the now criminal market will be taken away. This will enable enforcement to substantially shrink the criminal market”.
Source: American Civil Liberties Union 27.11.02 Interview with Eric Sterling
Howard Scheinblum U.S Superior Court Judge
[NB no direct quotes, only reported speech]
Scheinblum estimated 90 percent of criminal cases in Connecticut are connected in some way to the pursuit of illegal drugs, and he asserted that society would be far better off to let users of such drugs obtain them by prescription and to be charged for them according to their ability to pay.
He also interestingly notes that the "war on drugs" is not meant to be won; it is meant to be waged.
Source: Norwich Bulletin. Read the article here.
Source:the Sydney Morning Herald here