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The drug we really need to deal with

A certain amount of media interest, as we English put it in our understated fashion, has been stirred by the revelations that David Cameron, leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, supposed Conservative, windmill advocate and former PR consultant, took drugs while at Eton (for those living outside Britain, Eton is an incredibly posh and expensive English public, ie, private school). Cameron has so far said little about this. There have been rumours, of varying degrees of believability, that Cameron has taken drugs, including cocaine.

This saga tells us a lot about how the debate about whether the state should ban adults from injesting substances of their choice. Had this story broken 20 years ago, then Cameron would have been reduced to burnt toast. Remember, this twerp once chided wicked capitalist retailers from flogging chocolate oranges to obese Britons, and yet, if the allegations are correct, Boy Dave was quite happy to partake of South American exports and in quite impressive quantities. I personally am not a prig on this issue: I have smoked the odd joint and felt pretty bad afterwards. I once took coke and talked at about 150 miles an hour about some incredibly meaningful subject and later felt like a bit hazy. I did not repeat the experience. I find that champagne is frequently cheaper and legal. I suspect that quite a large percentage of people of my age – professional, reasonably intelligent, have had the same experiences. To listen to the Daily Mail type persons out there, most people should never touch anything stronger than Italian coffee. I think drugs should be decriminalised, believe the War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster and would hope that Cameron’s alleged behaviour might, just might, lead to a more sane political conversation about such issues.

But although the Tory leader may inadvertently encourage different views, he has a continued problem. Cameron, after all, is in love with a drug far worse than cocaine, LSD, Qaaludes (what the heck are they?) or dope. He is in love with power over other people. He suffers from hallucinations about how the Tories will win power by conceding Blairist ideas of the role of the State. He suffers from the extraordinary idea that Oliver Letwin is a great thinker.

Compared to Bolivian marching powder, that is heavy shit he is smoking.

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36 comments to The drug we really need to deal with

  • Freeman

    We all have a good idea of what power does to people, but what really gets up my nose is the way in which politicians use (and misuse) their temporarily-granted power. In particular, I find distastful the phrase often used by party politicians: “When we came into power. . .”
    A much more humble and graceful phrase would be: “When we were elected into office. . .” At least it might soften some of the dissembling which usually follows.

  • professional, reasonably intelligent

    Don’t flatter yourself.

    Yours,

    An amateur thicko.

  • RAB

    The Delusionism of Dave.
    Should be a show tune title really shouldn’t it?
    I’ve known people on crack, on heroin,
    Those that smoked a bit to much
    and those that drank a lot too much.
    I’ve also known some politicians.
    The only ones I’d worry about babysitting the kids are the…..

  • Westminster Hacker

    David Cameron? Isn’t he the bloke with the ex-heroin addict wife who took smack throughout her pregnancy causing their first baby enormous difficulties? Or maybe that was just a rumour I heard at the Red Lion. If it’s true though, it’s a good job I’m picking up the pieces by being forced to pay for all the NHS treatment the child is receiving. I should be ashamed of myself.

  • Dave

    It has been shown that drug addiction and alcoholism are in part genetic.
    You must have been one of the lucky ones Johnathan.

    http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/003319.html

    Thats why the law tries to protect people, they are born with a distinct disadvantage.
    But what do you care hey? you didn’t have a problem so why would anyone else?

    Perhaps people aren’t all born of the same blank-slate?

  • Thats why the law tries to protect people, they are born with a distinct disadvantage.

    Oh what rubbish. Everyone is born with certain dispositions. So what? We are also born with the ability to restrain ourselves. I was born male and thus am quite disposed to violence and tend to regard sex as something predicated on opportunities rather than reasons. Yet somehow I manage to avoid attacking people or raping them.

    Genetic determinism is such a cheap cop-out, much like saying “The Devil made me do it”. That is why Islam covers women up, because men “cannot help themselves” if tempted by the sight of an uncovered woman. No sale Dave.

  • Dave

    PdH, you don’t go around attacking and raping people, but unfortunately the same can’t be said about everyone.
    Some people simply cannot control themselves, pedophiles for example have a massive rate of recidivism.

    Yes people make their own choices at the end of the day, but for some people its much easier than others.

    Some people can drive safely at 200mph but it surely wouldn’t be a good idea of the general population was trying to do that?


    Yes I do think Islamic culture evolved its women covering tradition because of the original founders couldn’t help themselves which lead to the fathers of girls to be extremely over protective.
    There was a report on the BBC a week or so ago about ‘children of the sewers’ in Bulgaria,” the girls quickly learned to hide their gender for obvious reasons” it said. Easy to see how that could be taken to the extreme, as in Islam.

  • Dave

    Maybe you can answer something that confused me a little.
    I thought you guys were major supporters of individualism and freedom to choose?
    But most recreational drugs are mind altering which therefore interfere with your individual right to choose because it has affected your perception and how your brain thinks temporarily at least if not more long lasting.
    So valuing your ability to choose as you do howcome you are not more defensive about something that disrupts that ability? Surely you should be the most anti drugs people in the world?

  • Phil A

    The posts by Dave would appear to me to lead on logically to Prohibition, followed by puritanical (Islamic state anyone?) state control – all for our own good mind. Or rather those poor dears that just can’t resist the odd rape, or destroying themselves in some way.

    Yes I know alcoholism does dreadful things and I am not making light of it, the point is all of us should not have to be regimented because of it and the same could be said of drugs. All prohibition did was promote crime and that’s the main achievement of the “war on drugs” also.

  • Matt

    ‘Dave’ I can only speak for myself, but my opinion is as follows….

    I stopped smoking pot (and never started on anything else) because I *hated* being unmotivated and unable to think clearly.

    In my view, each individual may choose their drug of choice, just as they chose to accept the consequences of their actions while on said drug. I worked with methodone (heroin replacement) patients, and they more or less split into 2 groups, those who really wanted to get clean, and those who just wanted to go to a nice dark flat and spent time off thier tits without bothering anyone, including the scum dealing H.

    Of the later category, I’d rather they got a legal high and left everyone well alone than being in need of a fix and climbing through my window to pay for it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I thought you guys were major supporters of individualism and freedom to choose?

    We are. Go on, ask us a hard question then.

    But most recreational drugs are mind altering which therefore interfere with your individual right to choose because it has affected your perception and how your brain thinks temporarily at least if not more long lasting.

    Coffee is mind-altering, as is booze, etc. The point is that a person can freely choose to imbibe a substance so long as they accept that there are consequences. Freedom includes liberty to be stupid.

    Surely you should be the most anti drugs people in the world?

    I don’t take drugs – apart from the examples mentioned above and my brief silliness. However, I am even more opposed to the State telling people what to do with their bodies.

    Some people can drive safely at 200mph but it surely wouldn’t be a good idea of the general population was trying to do that?

    Indeed. Even on privately owned roads, there would be speed limits agreed upon by the users of said. In the same way that people who use other person’s property usually have to acknowledge the rules of the house.

    Yes people make their own choices at the end of the day, but for some people its much easier than others.

    Of course. Children typically find it harder, which is why parents look after them until they reach maturity. There are adults who continue to struggle, although one of the main problems of our age is a paternalistic mindset that regards the bulk of the population as permanantly infant-like.

    I won’t bother to deal with your remarks about genetics since Perry has already smashed that into the long grass. I think I can guess where you are coming from.

  • Jason

    Dave, were heroin made legal today, would you go and get an armful, purely on the basis that it was legal?

    Conversely, do you think heroin addicts are deterred by the law? Clearly they are not.

    So what is the point of the law against heroin-use? All it seems to achieve is to pour billions of dollars into the hands of kidnappers, extortionists and murderers.

    I don’t think one necessarily has to be of any political shade to see this as problematic.

  • Alex

    Recently there was a police operation to smash vietmanesee gangs growing copious amounts of skunk weed. This did managed to disrupt supplies nationwide for a few weeks but now its back to normal except the size of deals are down and all the police have effectivly done is increased the profits of the dealers –

    CONGRATULATIONS.

    I wonder how much taxpayers money is wasted persecuting drug users, a liitle story to illustrate:

    Many moons ago a friend of mine was wondering home from a party about 10am in the morning. He was stopped by the police who asked if he had seen anything suspicious as they were investigating reports of an attempted break in. He said no he was just off home to bed and wasn’t paying much attention.

    At this point they searched him and found an empty tin, which had contained some cannabis. I said empty but actually it contained what my friend discribed as a tiny scrap of weed.

    They promptly arrested him, forgot about the intruder, took my friend to the station held him for hours and then gave him a caution for possession .

    What a total waste of police time, they could have been investigating an attempeted burgulry but instead they arrested a drunk student on his way home for possession of not even enough weed to make a spliff. Pathetic

    At roughly the same time as this i lived round the corner in what was then dubbed the most burgled street in britain – good to see the local force had its prioties right.

  • RAB

    Alex, wasteing Police time is exactly what it’s all about.
    They are responding to, given the paperwork , the line of least resistance to themselves.
    If they can pick up an easy crime i.e. sitting duck , they will.
    I would refer you to my late night anecdote, entitled “Are these your chimney pots squire?”
    But I dont do those blue link thingys.
    And wouldn’t know where to find it in the archive if I did.

  • Midwesterner

    “Good evening sir. Could you confirm that these are your chimney pots?”

  • Dave

    Typical silly arguement comparing drug taking of serious mind altering substances to drinking alcohol or coffee, its a totally different thing the latter only have a tiny tiny effect unless you drink an extreme amount.

    Perry did not smash my genetics arguements, they are not even mine, I just linked an article by scienists who know a lot more than me who have found a genetic connection to drug addiction. You are simply disregarding peoples differences because it doesn’t suit your ideology.
    Why can’t you accept that a lot of people need extra help to avoid getting trapped into the world of drugs? not everyone has your strength of mind.

    When abortion was legalised it was claimed people were doing it anyway and legalization wouldn’t cause an increase, that turned out to be massively wrong. I have a hard time believing there wouldn’t be a massive increase in drugs too, as there have been in other countries and some areas in America that have tried legal ‘medical’ marijuana.

  • Paul Marks

    I have many reasons for not supporting Mr Cameron’s desire to be Prime Minister – but that he smoked something stupid as a school boy is not one of them.

    I would not be surprised to find out that his own people planted this story – to distract attention from his more recent antics (such as his activties working for Mr Green of Carlton Television).

    Sometimes one faces dfficult choices. Some people are dishonest but have good understanding of the need to roll back the state, and some people are honest (indeed are of high moral character), but have no idea that the state needs to be rolled back.

    With Mr Cameron we are fortunate. He has no understanding of the need to roll back the state, and he is also a man of bad moral character.

    Therefore the judgement over whether or not to support him is a simple one.

  • Perry did not smash my genetics arguements, they are not even mine, I just linked an article by scienists who know a lot more than me who have found a genetic connection to drug addiction. You are simply disregarding peoples differences because it doesn’t suit your ideology.

    I think you need to re-read my reply to you. In fact I agreed that genetics pre-disposes people to things. However that does not mean we must therefore entrust a largely criminal organisation (the state) with the care of our genetically pre-programmed morality, because that is not what ‘pre-disposition’ means.

    I have taken all manner of mind-bending drugs in my day and I also stopped taking them, which goes to prove that taking drugs does not of necessity lead either to addiction or (more importantly) other crimes, any more than gambling losses, failed business ventures or any other major economic reverse of necessity leads to theft or robbery. Outlawing something because it can lead to other crimes is just about the straightest road to a Total State that I can imagine.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Typical silly arguement comparing drug taking of serious mind altering substances to drinking alcohol or coffee, its a totally different thing the latter only have a tiny tiny effect unless you drink an extreme amount.

    Well, if you only smoke a small amount of dope it may also have a moderate effect. If I drink like George Best, I die. Arguably nicotine is far more addictive than many illegal drugs. But let’s put medical details to one side and cut to the heart of what was wrong with your point.

    You suggested that it is an oxymoron for a champion of liberty to injest any substance that might degrade that person’s ability to reason. Maybe. But that person, who chooses to get drunk or stoned, does so knowing the consequences. It is a free act, freely chosen. If that person was forced to get stoned at gunpoint, that would be a different argument. It is rather odd to make the argument that people should be coerced into not doing anything that might damage their rational faculties. If freedom is only the freedom to do what is totally health-enhancing, then that is not freedom, but paternalism.

    At a practical level, the state’s track record in fostering greater rationality and individuality has been terrible.

    You made reference to genetic causation, and frankly, given how most folk who bring up genetics turn out to be loons of one type or another, I made the remark I did. Genetics is often trotted out as a primary cause of many behaviours but I find it pretty much useless. And genetic determinists tend to overlook the rather central fact of human free will. We are not predestined to behave in certain ways and it is hubristic to assume that we can do so. Heaven protect us from geneticists who use their “insights” to save us from ourselves.

  • RAB

    I used to be a slob.
    No really.
    Lieing around surrounded by a mountain of pizza boxes and empty beer cans.
    Then this bloke in the pub, seeing my predicament,
    whispered
    You may want to try some of these…
    So he slipped me a tenners worth of gay genes.
    I have gone through three packets of Marygolds since christmas, and dusting the curtain rail has become a pleasure almost beyond belief!!!
    Dave, can you help me? I think I’m dangerously out of control ,and need your sagacious wisdom to see me through!!!
    Thanks for the Blue thingy earlier Mid !
    I will get the hang of it one day honest.

  • John K

    So what is the point of the law against heroin-use? All it seems to achieve is to pour billions of dollars into the hands of kidnappers, extortionists and murderers.

    And that’s just the DEA.

  • Sunfish

    Dave:

    Why can’t you accept that a lot of people need extra help to avoid getting trapped into the world of drugs? not everyone has your strength of mind.

    Fine. They need extra help. What does that have to do with anything?

    You can’t control yourself. You see a gram of Peruvian marching powder on a hand mirror and you have an uncontrollable urge to ram it into your left nostril. Okay. Do we change public policy, change the laws, severely limit medical research, create numerous exceptions to the Fourth Amendment (or other nations’ equivalents), increase the profit margins of smugglers and criminals, constrict supply so as to increase the cost of drugs to the point where the trade is worth killing over, and interfere with the private lives of private people who don’t have this problem, all because you can’t control yourself?

    I have something of a temper. However, I somehow still manage to avoid beating or abusing people. Even when one of my arrestees wants to tapdance, somehow I manage to restrain myself once he’s compliant.

    The problem isn’t prediliction. The problem is whether or not one indulges it.

    By the way, that was a sad cheap trick trying to work pedophilia in, above. The problem with pedophiles comes when they’re a threat to other people. What they visualize during their “alone time” with their personal lubricant of choice is their own problem.

  • RAB

    You are one of the three sanest
    Police officers I have ever met Sunfish!

  • Alasdair Reid

    Ingesting? Or injecting?

  • Dave

    Science Daily :— “A novel experiment conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Professor George Loewenstein and colleagues may explain why people try a drug, such as heroin, for the first time despite ample evidence that it is addictive. The results of the study, which are being published in the Journal of Health Economics, reveal that even longtime addicts underestimate the influence that drug cravings have over their behavior. ”


    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070212183553.htm

  • Sunfish

    Dave says:

    Science Daily :— “A novel experiment conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Professor George Loewenstein and colleagues may explain why people try a drug, such as heroin, for the first time despite ample evidence that it is addictive. The

    And therefore, what?

    Is the fact that some people know better but do stupid things anyway another data point in your never-ending quest to stick your snout into other peoples’ activities?

    I know perfectly well that, when I lifted this morning, I assumed a non-zero risk of injuring my knees or back by doing squats. Further, I am well aware that the fish sandwich and the caesar salad I got from the Wendy’s drive-through lane will likely raise my LDL cholesterol, a substantial contributing factor to heart attack. I further know that the bottle of Stone Brewery Old Guardian Barley Wine waiting for me when I get off work tomorrow morning could potentially kill some brain cells.

    Does that mean that I should be protected, by being forced to consume celery stalks and tuna salad (oops, piscivorous fish have high levels of heavy-metal contamination) and tap water (again, oops, chlorine and flouride) make that bottled water (tap water with added contaminants, typically)….

    OH TEH NOES!!11!1! It’s getting really complicated protecting people from themselves!

  • Dave

    No Sunfish I have no desire to stick my nose in other peoples business. I agree in an ideal world with total freedom and responsibility, and consequence’s.

    But drugs are different than normal risk assessment, drugs affect the inner workings of the mind, and corrupt the ability to think.
    Drugs also affect a lot more people than just the user. We recently had large rises in drug drivers, if you believe the government, which I suppose you probably don’t.

  • Sunfish

    Drugs also affect a lot more people than just the user. We recently had large rises in drug drivers, if you believe the government, which I suppose you probably don’t.

    Which government? Colorado, or the Federal government? Colorado I usually do believe. Of the Federal government, I’m usually skeptical. I have a pet theory that, the further I would have to drive to tell an official that he’s a silly bastard, the less trustworthy he probably is.

    Or do you mean in the UK? I don’t have enough data to form a hard conclusion about them. Other than the fact that, people who I know well enough to trust and who are in a position to know consider the home secretary a damn liar on crime and public safety matters.

    You could try something else, making drugged driving illegal and thereby criminalizing the acts that are actually dangerous to others, rather than the ones which are merely Dave’s pet hate.

    From reading about policing in the UK, it sounds like the traffic cops are dependent on handheld breath test machines, which only detect alcohol. That’s a training issue: cops can be trained to recognize drug impairment on the side of the road. WIthout getting into minutiae, alcohol and other drugs cause largely the same problems for drivers, and will manifest similarly on roadside examination. Confirm those findings with chemical tests. Where we have reason to believe that the problem is caused by drugs other than alcohol, we use blood tests, which any paramedic, nurse, or EMT can safely draw.

    For what it’s worth, DUI(drugs) is still a lot less common than DUI(alcohol) here. If drugs other than alcohol are present in one arrest out of twelve, I’d be surprised.

    I suppose we could also criminalize murder, assault, robbery, unsafe driving, child endangerment, burglary, possessing firearms while under the influence, and reckless endangerment in general…wait, we’ve done so. Maybe if the DA’s offices (on this side of the Atlantic) or the Crown Prosecution Service (on that side) had a little more spine about prosecuting things that actually hurt or endanger people…

  • RAB

    Dave. I’m sure it will be of no suprise to you,
    You know perfectly well, that Mankind has been getting high on some substance or another, throughout our millenia of history.
    It’s fun.
    The fact that some, nay probably all, these substances are bad for you, pretty much goes without saying.
    But that’s not the point. Nor is the change of consciousness, loss of control issue.
    What, after all, is “Normal” conciousness?
    Up until the late 19th century, the population of Britain were half pissed most of the time.
    The reason for that was lack of sanitation, so you’d be a fool to drink anything that hadn’t been brewed.
    iDave’s old Alma Marta, Eton, included two pints of Porter for breakfast in the 18th Century. Yet those poor befuddled fools went on to rule a quarter of the world.
    That well known teetotaller Winston Churchill went on to…. Well need I say more!
    So I agree with Sanefish.
    He’s up the front end, after all.
    Drinking alcohol is not illegal.
    Driving a car whilst pissed is.
    Get the picture?
    Get rid of all laws on drugs possession and use,
    But make sensible laws on inflicting damage on innocent passers by.
    It’s not hard.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Dave, you naivety is astounding and I fully agree with Sunfish’s point that we need to punish the crimes, not the intake of whatever substance a criminal was on. If a drugged person attacks someone, he should be punished for that attack, not being drugged, and so on. Drink-driving or drug-driving should be punished for the obvious risks posed to the innocent, but whether the state could or should seek to keep us all stone cold sober 24/7 is doubtful.

    The record of the war on drugs in the west has been so bad, and caused so many problems, that I find it hard to take the prohibitionists seriously. Their approach has been tested to destruction. We need to take another tack.

  • Dave

    So there is no such thing as diminished responsibility in crime? and people who didn’t know what they were doing should be treated the same as someone who did?

  • Sunfish

    So there is no such thing as diminished responsibility in crime? and people who didn’t know what they were doing should be treated the same as someone who did?

    As a general rule, here at least, voluntary intoxication is not a defense and will not be a basis for an insanity defense. Intoxication may be a defense to a charge requiring specific intent (first-degree murder usually requires the specific intent to cause a death, for instance). However, intoxication will not be a defense to a crime involving a willful, reckless, or negligent act.

    As far as the drugged driving that we’ve been on for the last day or so, that’s a strict liability crime. The defendant’s intent and mindset are irrelevant. Either he’s intoxicated or he’s not.

    Someone who’s incapable of appraising the right or wrong of his conduct due to inherent defect might have a defense. However, we’re not really talking about that. We’re talking about a person who had a choice to chemically impair or to not chemically impair himself. Put another way: I’m a little drunk right now. However, I’m at home, not on call or availability status tonight, and not controlling a motor vehicle, and am not in immediate control of a firearm or other dangerous weapon. The worst reasonably-foreseeable outcome of this beer buzz is that I might not feel fully motivated to work out in the morning, which is not typically a matter of government concern.

    That’s not an argument for banning beer. I chose to drink, and as a result I’m responsible for not doing so in a manner that endangers others. Sitting on my couch with a laptop and a glass is not something likely to threaten the neighbors.

  • Dave

    zzzz.

    I have nothing at all against alcohol, and I think it demonstrates the weakness of the the legalizers arguement to continually compare alcohol which is not dangerous at all unless drank in extreme quantities to serious mind altering hard drugs, its not the same thing at all.
    Cocaine disrupts internal brain circuitry

    You people are ignoring the science of how dangerous these drugs really are and telling yourselfs its just like alcohol, and you call ‘me’ naive.

  • Dave

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20070302-15071300-bc-britain-addiction.xml

    “Study: Addicts born, not made

    LONDON, March 2 (UPI) — British scientists said new research suggests drug addicts are genetically predetermined.

    The University of Cambridge researchers said some people are predisposed to drug addiction because of their brain wiring, The Telegraph reported.

    Their work, which appears in the journal Science, indicated addicts seem to be missing receptors for dopamine.”

  • It would seem that UPI and Dave need an English lesson. Let me to a fisklette:

    British scientists said new research suggests drug addicts are genetically predetermined.

    The University of Cambridge researchers said some people are predisposed to drug addiction because of their brain wiring, The Telegraph reported.

    Predetermined = determined before the event.

    Predisposed = a propensity.

    Predetermined ≠ Predisposed.

    I am predisposed to violence. It does not mean I cannot control it (i.e. me reacting violently is not predetermined). The article is junk reporting, not to mention a semantic fallacy.