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April 14, 2006 - Drug War Chronicle (US)

Europe: Scottish Cops Say Legalize It All

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Scotland's Strathclyde (Glasgow area) Police Federation, the county's largest police union representing some 7,700 Scottish police officers, is calling for the legalization of all drugs, the Daily Mail Scotland reported Thursday. Even hard drugs like cocaine and heroin should be legal and available to be licensed for use by addicts, the federation said.

Current prohibitionist approaches simply are not working and waste millions of dollars in a futile effort, said Inspector Jim Duffy, chairman of the federation. The laws must be transformed to cut the death toll, he said.

"We should legalize 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," he said.

"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."

The federation plans to take its position to its fellow Scottish police officers. The group will present a discussion motion at a forthcoming national police conference to garner support from officers across Scotland.

The startling announcement was music to the ears of Danny Kushlick, director of the drug reform group Transform. "For a policy that aims to eliminate drug supply and use, it has failed in spectacular style," he said in a statement greeting the call.

"Over the last 40 years illegal drug use has risen by at least 300%. Attempts to curtail drug supply have been equally ineffective, with drugs now cheaper and more available than ever before," Kushlick said.

"When high demand for drugs collides with laws that prohibit them, the result is a dramatic rise in drug prices, with low value commodities becoming, quite literally, worth more than their weight in gold," Kushlick continued.

The hugely lucrative opportunities this creates attract the violent criminal entrepreneurs who now control the world's largest criminal market, worth $500 billion a year. Inflated drug prices mean that low income dependent drug users often resort to property crime or prostitution to support their habits.

The government estimates that this relatively small population of dependent heroin and cocaine users is now responsible for 54% of robberies, 70-80% of burglaries, 85% of shoplifting and 95% of street prostitution.

In addition, prohibition criminalizes millions of (otherwise law abiding) drug using adults, making it unparalleled in its contribution to prison overcrowding and the wider crisis in the criminal justice system. This is not a debate that invites fence sitters and Strathclyde police federation has courageously climbed down."

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