Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jun 2002
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Nick Davies, Patrick Matthews


Ros Coward has completely misunderstood the argument for legalising drugs 
(Comment, June 3). Nobody is saying that all drugs are safe, nor that we 
should simply ignore their dangers. The point is that any drug becomes more 
dangerous when you hand over its production to criminals. They pollute the 
product, hurting users; and they provoke a crime boom, hurting the entire 

By all means discourage people from consuming drugs which can hurt them, 
but whether a drug is inherently dangerous, like cannabis and alcohol, or 
inherently benign, like heroin, it must be legalised so that finally we can 
control it in a way that a regime of prohibition cannot.

As it is, there are hundreds of thousands of people in this country whose 
lives are being ruined, not by the drugs which they consume, but by the 
black market which has been created and protected by the wanton ignorance 
of politicians and journalists.

Nick Davies, London


The good news about cannabis psychosis is that there appears to be a simple 
cure: stop smoking dope. Drug warriors like Ros Coward don't help when they 
combine nonsense - "cannabis is 30 times stronger than in the 70s" - with 
language that comes straight from the era of Reefer Madness - "sad 
shifty-eyed self-ostracising paranoids". Perhaps this describes Evelyn 
Waugh, who liked hashish, but does it also apply to Rudyard Kipling, Louis 
Armstrong, Robert Altman and the various Tory politicians who "came out"? 
If you want to deliver a message about the dangers of drugs, it helps to 
have a sense of perspective - not to mention a sense of humour.

Patrick Matthews, London
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