'It's time to end the war on drugs'

By by Paul Speller newsdesk@iomtoday.co.im Twitter: @iomnewspapers in Health

The Isle of Man should give up the war on illegal drugs and instead regulate their use.

That’s the view of a leading campaigner, who is due to give a presentation in the island next week.

Jane Slater is head of operations at Transform, a charitable think tank that campaigns for an ’end to the drug war’.

She also set up Anyone’s Child, an organisation for families whose lives have been wrecked by drugs, which believes in regulation rather than criminality.

She is a speaker at an event organised by the Positive Action Group and Isle of Man Freethinkers, alongside Port St Mary man Ray Lakeman, whose two teenage sons died after they accidentally overdosed on ecstasy.

It was ’absolutely right’ for the Isle of Man to investigate de-criminalising drugs, Ms Slater told the Manx Independent this week, and it was an issue that was being considered by a number of governments around the world, although not on a public scale in the UK.

’Drugs need to be legally controlled and regulated,’ she said.

’It is about taking it out of the hands of organised criminals and giving it to doctors, pharmacists and governments who can get the market under control.

’I think at the political level, at the moment, the debate in the UK is not happening out in the open, but I think there is a shift in people’s attitudes towards this question and a growing understanding that what we are doing currently is not really working.

’People are starting to look at other countries and see maybe some of these options offer a better solution than what we are currently doing.’

Having drug use as a criminal offence made the risks greater for the users, she argued, whereas if it was legal - but regulated - it would be safer.

Transform has advised governments considering changing their drug laws and Ms Slater said the organisation would be prepared to help the Isle of Man if it chose to travel in that direction.

She confirmed the idea was for the legalisation of all drugs, but with different restrictions in place.

’I am talking about all drugs. We need to get them under control.

’There needs to be different regulations for different drugs, with stricter controls on drugs like heroin and more relaxed on things like cannabis.’

Ms Slater said she became involved in the campaign after studying at the University of Amsterdam and seeing a different drug policy in operation.

Since setting up the Anyone’s Child organisation, she has met a number of families who have lost someone to drugs.

’What is interesting is many of them had preached a very tough line on drugs while their children were alive and, subsequently, reading and looking at the evidence made them reach the conclusion that continuing the failed drug war is not the way forward.’

The presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer session, takes place in the Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas, on Monday, at 7.30pm. Admission is free.

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Mandala · 106 days ago · Report

I`m fine with cannabis being legalized (although should be treated harshly if caught driving under the influence) but not the harder drugs like heroin and cocaine (I believe there is a massive difference in the after effects of their users) i.e. the drugs people take to burgling peoples houses for in order to fund their next fix.

Johnboy · 116 days ago · Report

Anyone that thinks the current way of dealing with drugs/users is the right way, then I suggest you open your eyes and do some research. It's a matter of time until the UK Government change their stance and I can assure you that as a result volumes of usage and users will decrease. Not forgetting all the deaths that occur as a result of the illegal market.

sOnIc · 116 days ago · Report

"The genie" - yes, the word is out. Particularly with cannabis which is now available on the NHS and becoming a mainstream medicine; as well as one of the most promising areas of research into stopping cancer and genetically related diseases. Despite being told for decades that cannabis has no medicinal use; it is plainly incorrect to have cannabis in schedule one. The delay in medical implementation caused by prohibition is truly criminal.

sOnIc · 116 days ago · Report

The only evidence available is to look at places where cannabis has been legalised. There is a big change in the visibility of cannabis with all the shops opening up and ppl exercising their new rights, it may look like an explosion of users; but really it's only a 'coming out'. From a one-product black market to a huge range like alcohol, for many people it will mean you can get less strong varieties which you enjoy more. Big change yes, and will take a decade or so to settle in.

sOnIc · 116 days ago · Report

The term 'skunk' was propagated by prohibitionists as a scare story, yet it is just as strong an argument for legalisation. Since the 90's it became really easy and profitable to grow high strength cannabis in the UK instead of importing lesser types, so the market very quickly became 90% strong weed. This means consumers don't have a choice; and today's youngsters are starting on top shelf weed. Skunk is say the equivalent of 20%+ alcohol, where hashish is more like 5%. Somet like that.

Ray Lakeman · 117 days ago · Report


Manx born (formerl CV) · 117 days ago · Report

Finally do you have any evidence that the amount for drug users will not increase dramatically with decriminalisation? I don't have any that it will other than life experience. But once you let that genie out of the bottle, there will be no putting it back.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 117 days ago · Report

I stand corrected sOnic, I didn't explain my self properly. The point I was trying to make is that due to human intervention regarding strains of cannabis, skunk has a much higher affect on the brain. It cannot be compared with someone smoking a joint containing a few leaves grown in a plot pot.

sOnIc · 117 days ago · Report

"chemically enhanced cannabis, such as skunk" .. I think you're getting mixed up. 'Skunk' has been adopted as a term meaning higher THC strains of herbal cannabis; this accounts for 90% of the UK market due to intensive indoor grows, there are no chemicals added. "Spice" is a synthetic product which resembles cannabis to look at; but is a horrible chemical which appears to come in the same packaging but have very different strengths and effects, that stuff is truly nasty stuff.

sOnIc · 117 days ago · Report

Cannabis is really popular, if you don't go to school/uni or music festivals or hang out in those circles then you wont see it, but the estimates are that 6 million Brits use illegal recreational drugs. I work (and play) at nightclubs and music festivals. Quoting the above: "There needs to be different regulations for different drugs, with stricter controls on drugs like heroin and more relaxed on things like cannabis." Prohibition creates much of the harm, go along and listen :)

Manx born (formerl CV) · 117 days ago · Report

The visiting speaker wants all drugs to be legalised. She doesn't differentiate between heroin and cannabis. sOnic, I question your figure of 6 million cannabis users. Citizen, smoking chemically enhanced cannabis, such as skunk, can be far more dangerous than sugary snacks ever will be.

sOnIc · 118 days ago · Report

Debating 'drugs' is futile because that term covers so many things. I've talked about recreational drugs; and the case for legalisation is pretty obvious. But talking about cocaine is a more interesting debate; that covers chewing coca leaves all the way to injecting crack. Opium/Heroin also. Then you're talking about South America and Afghanistan etc. But the fact remains - prohibition has caused far more damage than the drugs ever did, we need to talk about alternatives.

sOnIc · 118 days ago · Report

@Manx born ... thanks :) The main misconception about legalisation is that it would create lots of new users; but the reality is that something like 6 million Brits use cannabis regularly now; regardless of the law, those cannabis users exist already! They are not the problem; the problem is a multi-billion pound industry in the hands of criminals. Likewise the other recreational drugs.

Citizen · 118 days ago · Report

Cannabis Cannabis should be legal because it is literally just a herb which makes you want to eat and sleep, and can be consumed in 100% safe ways like eating and some would argue Vaping, though not enough research has been done to prove that vaping is 100% safe. inhaling it from a joint or bong is also very safe in comparison to sugary snacks, Alcohol and Tobacco. See more in next comment

Manx born (formerl CV) · 118 days ago · Report

sOnic, I agree with what you say about alcohol. So let us decriminalise all drugs and regulate their manufacture. This would make them access to everyone, any time, any place. So why do you think the effects of that would be any different to your point about alcohol?

Dirty Buggane · 118 days ago · Report

Legalise it, then tax the crap out of it to pay for all the civil servants (who seem to live in cloud cookcoo land) pensions

sOnIc · 118 days ago · Report

@Billding - "Decriminalize something to control it?" Yes - alcohol was legalised, is that policy working? Yes? Despite thousands of deaths a year; many of which are innocent bystanders, huge cost to the NHS, addiction, intoxication causing anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violence, emergency services covering accidents and related trouble etc. Despite all of that, we probably all agree that alcohol is better off legal, regulated, taxed etc? Can we all agree on that?! OK then...

ET · 118 days ago · Report

It depends CV on Big Sams interpretation of what constitutes experience. Enjoying the stuff? Rubbing shoulders with those that do? Berating those that don't? Usual diatribe? All a convincing argument but what for exactly remains the mystery. You take away the romance, the trend, the get-out and what's left. Usually a crack-head with bad skin and a shortened life span. Regulating supply? Breathtaking idealistic enhancement of a global problem.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 119 days ago · Report

Big Sam, read what I actually said. My point was just because it is done at home doesn't make it right. And why do you wrongly assume that people who disagree with you have no personal experience? Or are you saying that only drug users should have a say?

Clock Weights · 119 days ago · Report

Yet another come over trying to force their own self-righteous opinion on the Manx people. They won't be happy until the Manx way of life is totally destroyed and the island becomes a steaming cesspool of undesirables.

kevinski · 119 days ago · Report

Can't see anyone winning the argument on drugs. Never mind the war. Spend some time in a drug zone in mexico or somewhere and see if drugs are a problem or not. No hang on....have a look at the queue in Boots....

Billding · 119 days ago · Report

Decriminalize something to control it? Great idea and whilst were at it we could add hand guns & robbery to the list so they are easier to control, or we could get real and police drugs a lot harder! Did she really go to university?

Big Sam · 119 days ago · Report

Manx Born - what planet are you on? Equating the personal use of recreational drugs with the recording of child pornography......!? What kind of twisted mind do you have? Agree with Spock - usual ill informed diatribe from the usual suspects who have no personal experience in the subject matter.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 119 days ago · Report

PS You would if there was a British stag party in Amsterdam. Darwin. But you could say the same about more or less every European city where there were no Brits.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 119 days ago · Report

cont.....Back to the article, the logic of it doesn't make any sense. First it is suggested that drugs should be decriminalised but goes onto the say they should be controlled and regulated. Effective control and regulation has to be able to be enforced. That requires legislation with a penalty for failing to do so. Which is where we are at the present.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 119 days ago · Report

Spock, do you use the same argument to allow the recording of child pornographic images for personal use at home? Phil, there already is a huge black market in cigarettes and alcohol. Spook, they tried banning alcohol in America nearly 100 years ago and look where that got them and us.

Darwin · 119 days ago · Report

Jane Cain - go out on a Saturday in Douglas and you will see a lot of people "lolling about on the pavements" drugged up on alcohol, and also fighting, causing criminal damage - not what you would find if you went to Amsterdam.

Spock · 119 days ago · Report

Thirdly, getting it away from criminals shouldn't be too difficult - given how easy it is for them to grow or create these substances I'd bet a half-decent chemist wouldn't have any trouble at all given the correct resources. So if someone wants to use them, let them use a safe supply. Fourthly, who are you to tell someone what they can and can't do to their own body? If someone wants to get stoned at home that's none of your business, so leave them be as long as they don't hurt anyone

Spock · 119 days ago · Report

Typical regressive, fearful and ill-informed replies there already... For starters, I'd feel safer walking down a street in the Dam than through a junkie area in the UK, or even down a street full of drunk yobs over here. Secondly, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the terms "legal", "controlled" and "regulated" - it seems that some people think these terms mean "compulsory". They don't. Tobacco and alcohol are legal, but you don't have to use them, do you? .

· 119 days ago · Report

@ Phil: "The contents of the drugs would also be mixed with all sorts of rubbish to bolster them" This is currently happening because it's not regulated. "If, and it's a massive if, that ever happened, criminals would just maked (sic) theirs cheaper and easier to get hold of." If that were true there would be a huge black market for cigarettes and alcohol.

· 119 days ago · Report

@ET "The vast majority of the world's population Ms Slater don't snort..." Correct, but many more people are affected by the crime of those that do and those that the illegal trade support.

Phil · 119 days ago · Report

Just how does she propose to take it out of the hands of criminals? If, and it's a massive if, that ever happened, criminals would just maked theirs cheaper and easier to get hold of. The contents of the drugs would also be mixed with all sorts of rubbish to bolster them. Seems to me that the only person advocating the loss on the war on drugs are the users and sellers. I'm quite happy to read about shipments being intercepted and destroyed

Jane Cain · 119 days ago · Report

GET REAL - if you go to Amsterdam you will be met by the sight of many druggies, lolling about on the pavements - drugged up to the eyeballs. Is this what we really want for the Isle of Man? Give the Police more resources and educate - that is what we need to do.

ET · 119 days ago · Report

The vast majority of the world's population Ms Slater don't snort, sniff, inject, injest, buy, sell, distribute or commit crime to uphold leisure-time drug taking as a means to mask or enhance their life-styles, however oppressive, fun-filled or miserable they may be. Decriminalising or legalising the pathway to addiction serves those that do. It's a really, really bad choice to make. To supply is to control, State or syndicate. The results in the main remain the same. Horrendous.

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