Pubdate: Sun, 03 Apr 2005
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2005 The Observer
Author: D J Welch
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


David Aaronovitch urges us 'to forget ... prohibition' and encourage users 
to abstain. That Sir Keith Morris, the former UK ambassador to Colombia, 
has called for the legalisation of cocaine should give Aaronovitch pause 
for thought.

Certainly it is difficult to disagree with the Metropolitan Police 
commissioner that it is hypocritical of someone who would not dream of 
buying anything other than fair trade coffee to buy cocaine.

However, Aaronovitch's logic is flawed. We cannot forget prohibition 
because it is prohibition that denies the consumer the possibility of 
buying 'fair-trade cocaine'. The fair-trade movement provides the consumer 
with an ethical decision when buying certain commodities. It should not be 
confused with reducing ethics to consumption choices nor should it be used 
as an excuse for reducing the political to the personal.

The human misery of the cocaine trade is created by prohibition, regardless 
of whether a tiny proportion of cocaine users compromise their 'fair-trade' 
ethics by buying it.

It is often suggested that the alternative to prohibition is a legal free 
market and anyone concerned with fair trade would surely oppose this. 
However, as Transform points out in its report 'After the War on Drugs - 
Options for Control', the abolition of prohibition presents the opportunity 
of a regulatory clean slate.

D J Welch

Manchester M16 
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