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DRUGS

It looks like violent sexual crime (as well as the problem feral teenagers terrorising and killing householders who dare protest in person when their cars are being vandalised or their gardens urinated on) is about to go up soon.

The use of the class A drug crystal meth could be as big a problem as crack cocaine within two years, police warn. A report for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) predicts that use of the drug is rising. Crystal meth is a form of amphetamine which has been crystallised so that it can be smoked. The report compares the growth in the UK with the pattern of use in Australia and the US where it has reached epidemic levels in some areas. Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, the highly addictive drug prevalent across the US and Australia, is present in almost every town and city in England and Wales.

The study has found that the drug, which was upgraded to a class A substance in January 2008, is being produced, sold or used in every area of the UK except Scotland.

It also found increasing levels of crystal meth turning up in other drugs - notably heroin and cocaine - meaning some people were taking it without knowing.

While numbers involved remained small, it was difficult to get an accurate picture as some people did not realise they were taking the drug. "Drug users who are thinking 'This crack is good' are sometimes taking crystal meth; that's the information we are getting off the street and that seems to be the way it is creeping into the system."

The drug produces a high similar to crack cocaine, although it can last up to 12 hours when it is smoked or injected. Experts say its physical and psychological effects are more damaging. It was once confined to the gay club scene and regular users of other hard drugs, but there are fears it is becoming more mainstream.

Crystal meth's other street names include ice and Nazi crank, based on reports that Hitler was a user. In parts of the US it is now more popular than heroin or cocaine - the number of illegal "meth labs" went from 3,800 in 1998 to 10,200 in 2003.

Paranoia, kidney failure, violence, internal bleeding and less inhibited sexual behaviour, are among the reported side effects of the drug.
Other risks associated with the synthetic stimulant, which can be smoked or injected, include depression and tooth decay.

It can give a massive high to users, but they can quickly become dependent and it can lead to serious mental health problems.

Should we continue with more liberal hand-wringing or introduce laws NOW, that make very clear that drug-addicted and intoxicated criminals should expect to be treated in way that might deter them from their inclinations, or punish them to the satisfaction of their victims (or their loved ones) if it has not?
Vote: Should all drugs be legalised (and intoxication and addiction treated as an aggravating factor deserving of harsher punishment)?

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Members Comments

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oceansailor 23-Jul-2008 16:43
Decriminalize all drugs. Politics is the art of the possible. Prohibition proved that it is impossible to stop people doing what they want. All that was achieved was that the criminals got organized and created massive corruption in public life.
Derek 23-Feb-2008 22:58
I very strongly believe that all drugs should be de-criminalised. I am sure that it would dramatically reduce crime.
But I cannot vote for the motion because I do not agree that their use by people who commit crimes should attract greater penalties. Equally, they should not attract lighter ones.
Andromeda 21-Feb-2008 4:31
Survival of the fittest applies both to the species, the individual of that species as well as to the kind of ideas or culture that a society or civilisation adopts. The longer a duration of a dominant civilisation, the more successful are its culture and values deemed to be. My position is that banning something that is obviously evil will not help. Remember Prohibition in the US? All it did was to enrich the Mafiosi. All you can realistically do is tell people that that if X is done, Y will be done to you and see that this is enforced in a way that makes it a sufficient deterrent. Should such a deterrent fail, condign punishment will kick in.

Anything and any behaviour done to excess will have unwelcome consequences. Therefore moderation should be encouraged and excess discouraged. Intoxication as a way of life is not a good idea, and all of us know that. Some of us think we can get away with it. It is the same with any behavioural addiction. Eating is necessary. Done to excess it is in fact suicidal. If you accept this logic, you will accept the logic of legalising crystal meths. What will you do if there were an obesity epidemic? Close down the supermarkets? Have a health police? No, you will just have to let them get on with it, won't you, because sooner or later they will realise the error of their ways when they run out of money to buy their food or can no longer get out of their homes because they are wider than their door.

I fail to see what Estivoy thinks my views on psychology are, or why "Prozac for anxiety" is relevant to this debate.

I have never heard that "don't adjust your mind, the problem is with society" is wise counsel. This seems to suggest that one should prefer a subjective view that one must be right rather than take an objective view about what could be wrong. If anyone said that to me, I would suspect his motives and judgment.

If I sound unsympathetic, it is probably because I am, to addicts who become criminals. Frankly, I do not care what happens to them while caring deeply about what happens to their victims.

I have not placed myself at the top of the tree, as Estivoy claims. Even I know that friends and family and indeed I myself could in theory become criminals and addicts, but people would be more discouraged from self-harming and behaviour harmful to others by tough laws than any amount of saying how deeply the government cares about what happens to these people. Telling them they will be exterminated as unfit for society would probably be more effective than promising them cradle to death rehabilitation and compassion, and it is really as simple as that!
evansthespy 20-Feb-2008 11:21
I take the point about alcohol and nicotine - this is where the line has to be drawn. They are not mind altering drugs in the same way as crack etc.
estivboy 19-Feb-2008 20:7
Darwin was talking about environmental controls not social Darwinism, that was his relation who first started on that societal argument. Survival of the fittest individual fails when a crack head shoots you for some money, does Andromeda propose we all carry guns and it's who has the best gun?

All drugs, potentially? Well potential is very non descriptive. I mean 'defined' physical addiction and to claim people are weak because they may suffer it is to not acknowledge such tragic events as the opium wars. Were all those Chinese weak?

The behavioural addiction Andromeda speaks of is a motley collection and I don't see how they are related. Shopping addiction could be connected to the hundreds of messages we receive about consuming, it will certainly affect some people who connect it to self-worth.

From reading Andromeda's opinions here and elsewhere it seems she does not have a distrust of the psychology profession, they define these addictions she mentions. Psychology is not a science and I don't respect it and it's neat labelling and medicalisation of human emotions, Prozac for anxiety anyone?

The lack of empathy she shows towards various forms of addictions make me think that it's all a matter of 'self help' to her. It really is such a Daily Mail view that people 'choose' to become drink or drug users. It's not that simple and I don't even know where to start in trying to fathom it. Ever heard of the quote 'don't adjust your mind the problem is with society'.

Part of me would like to agree with Andromeda's Libertarian agenda, the liberal part of me that wants self determination. But, the part of me that disagrees with her is the part of me that dislikes the fact that in this debate she has placed herself at the top of the tree. Below her are the poor weak people whom she despises. Interesting that. I feel that in this society we have to consider that there is not nor will there ever be perfection and because of that we have to remember to also protect the weak and vulnerable, it may be just an accident of birth that we are not them.
Andromeda 18-Feb-2008 11:53
Yes, "Estivoy", I do have the courage of my convictions and believe that even crystal meths should be legalised.

There is a Darwinian-Libertarian agenda to all this of course: to promote Minimum Government and the survival of the fittest.

ALL drugs are potentially addictive. Since there is such a thing as behavioural addiction, eg gambling, womanising, obsessive compulsive disorder, over-eating, shopaholism etc, and it is impossible to impose moderation on others who have chosen excess as a lifestyle, then we might as well legalise the whole lot, and give the weak and irrational enough rope to hang themselves with.

Why should the rest of society suffer just because some people have chosen intoxication as a way of life? Let those who have actively chosen to be weak and irrational suffer for the consequences of their choices.

And let those who choose reason, moderation and sobriety as a way of life enjoy a greater protectedness in comparison to those who have chosen to make a god of their appetites!
evansthespy 18-Feb-2008 8:42
''prohibition never works'' - Legalisation didn't either when they tried it in Lambeth. The fact is drugs and crime are synonymous - control one and you control the other.
Kiernos 15-Feb-2008 22:15
Not all drugs should be legalised, (cocaine, heroine, crystal meth, and other drugs with hugely detrimental effects, both socially and physically) but not all drugs should be made illegal, as some could be used as relatively harmless medical substitutes (e.g. cannabis, although not the strong versions such as skunk), and others, whose effects are far less harmful than legal drugs, such as alcohol.
estivboy 15-Feb-2008 16:15
All Drugs? There are views that if you legalised drugs it would rob criminals of their income. The government could then control it in the same way as the two most popular drugs, alcohol and nicotine. The problem with this is that such an experiment could go either way.

A recent report in Nature magazine listed the dangers of the 20 most popular drugs in use in the UK and found some surprising results. Ecstasy was the 2nd safest and marijuana was the 8th. Tobacco and alcohol were classed as worse than both. Unsurprisingly heroin was the worst and crack wasn't far behind. These drugs are obviously dangerous and if C Meth is as bad then trouble may be brewing.

The drug laws and views in this country are from a very long time ago and most certainly need a clear and measured reassessment certainly in respect to the recreational types regularly consumed.
I think the question of ‘all drugs’ is really a bit simplistic. Alcohol is alcohol in any drink it just varies in strength but drugs are all different and that is a fundamental point. What is important to remember though is both alcohol and tobacco are very destructive to society and part of the reason is that they are addictive.

It is this property that should decide the views taken when thinking about the drug legalisation question. Ecstasy and marijuana have their problems but they are not physically addictive, though dependency can develop. The more dangerous drugs create addiction and loss of control and that is THE problem.
Do I think that all should be legalised? You’d have to be brave to try so my answer has to be no.

Decriminalisation is another question all together.

I say decriminalise the non addictive and provide support for people who need help with the addictive, needle exchange etc. Help those driven underground by the illegality of their habit and more may seek help.
MarkT 15-Feb-2008 8:33
prohibition never works
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