Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Ganja and gun crime

In September 2012 the Guardian reported that a high ranking police chief from Merseyside was using a rise in cannabis related violent crime to demand stiffer sentencing for cannabis related offences. Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward was quoted as saying:
"Criminals who have previously been involved in something else are drifting into the cannabis world … The amount of money being made by criminals should be reflected in the sentencing."

This news is the perfect example of how under the prohibitionist system, the distribution of a virtually harmless drug that causes people to generally chill out and be extremely non-violent is causing a surge in violent and gun related crime. In fact it is extremely difficult to understand how this rise in prohibitionism related violence be seen as a case for even more prohibitionism instead of an argument against the folly of basing our laws on outdated moralistic puritanical principles.

If police spent a little more time investigating real crimes (like gun
crime), rather than enforcing insane prohibitionist morality
then perhaps gun crime wouldn't be on the rise?
Prohibitionism is one subject on which virtually all politically minded people agree. From leftie liberals to right-wing neoliberal apologists (his opposition to drug prohibition was one of the very few things that Milton Friedman was spot-on about): Pretty much anyone with the mental faculties to cut through irrational propaganda comes to accept that basing socio-economic policy on absurd and arbitrary puritanical notions is insane. 

Once you understand that the side effects of violence, criminality, tax-dodging, contamination, sale to minors... are significantly more appalling than the effects of the drug itself (even if you uncritically accept the worst case scenario hysteria about the psychological consequences); it is impossible to overlook the fact that gun crime and territorial warfare are far worse than the premature triggering of underlying mental health problems in a tiny minority of users. 

It is incredible that high ranking police officers and the political classes are so myopic and reactionary that they still believe that prohibitionism can work. So incredible in fact that it is probably worthwhile to consider reasons why they publicly support a stance that they know to be utterly irrational.

Police chiefs could use rising prohibitionism related crime in order to call for more funding for armed police units and drugs squads, extra cash that would come in extremely useful given the across the board cuts in police funding under the Tory led coalition government. The payoff for politicians "maintaining the lie" is less obvious, the tabloid press continue to propagandise against drugs, however ever growing proportions of their readership are critical of the stance, especially in the online editions; elderly people usually have more reactionary attitudes towards drugs and they are also more likely to vote; but the biggest factor is probably the fact that so many of the political classes have vested interests in the financial beneficiaries of cannabis prohibitionism such as alcohol and tobacco companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the legal industry and private security outsourcing companies.

The anachronistic prohibitionist stance has resulted in a situation where the distribution of a virtually harmless drug is resulting in rising gun crime and gang warfare. If the relatively harmless drug was produced legally, in carefully regulated factories or growing co-operatives with freedom for people to home grow small supplies for personal consumption, leaving the police to focus on resolving real crimes (like gun crime) rather than spending tens of thousands of man hours and millions of pounds hunting down the location of these cannabis growing facilities, does anyone seriously believe gun crime would be on the rise? 

The solution to this insanity is simple:

Legalise, tax, regulate and rehabilitate.

These measures will more than pay for themselves in both economic and social benefits.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Brilliantly put. I, like you, hope the move away from prohibition will happen in my life time but I won't hold my breath. I would have thought that the economy going tits up and the state the NHS is in would make it more likely but no signs of change yet.