Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sir Richard Branson - on drugs.

I read an article in the newspaper today that has got me thinking. It was on the subject of subject of "illegal" drugs, and Sir Richard Branson - never one to be a shrinking violet when it comes to giving a statement - suggested that "illegal" drugs should be de-criminalised, freeing up the Police to chase violent and organized crime. He qualified this by saying that "illegal" drugs were dangerous and were a threat to health, and that education and rehabilitation would be a better focus for users than sending them to prison where their habits would almost certainly become entrenched.

At face value there seems to be some sense in what he is saying: taking drugs is still a very bad thing to do, just like smoking, spreading STI's and abuse of alcohol - but should we send the police to their houses, or improve our health education and drug treatment programs? Countries that have de-criminalized "illegal" drugs, such as Switzerland, found that drug taking decreased; so that gives more food for thought.

Any abuse of a chemical, whether it be alcohol, tobacco, opiates, amphetamines or any mood altering drug is fraught with terrible consequences and we need to teach our children and grandchildren of the dangers associated with them, not only of the damage they do to themselves, but of the impact it has on others: no-one is an addict in isolation!

My suggestion is for people to start talking about how best to approach the problem: prohibition didn't work and criminalization has had no apparent benefit. Education has helped reduce tobacco usage in many countries and is a good template perhaps for our approach to drug users. But experience has shown that sending them to prison has not helped, and perhaps now is the time for new initiatives.

I haven't made up my mind yet, but education seems better than incarceration. Let me know what you think.
Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.


Mariodacatsmom said...

I agree with you. The police do have more important things to do and our prisons are already over crowded. But how do you contain them while we're educating them?

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