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Where Prohibition Fails

Prohibition is ineffective, doomed to failure, deeply harmful and morally wrong.

It is ineffective because there has been no adverse effect on either the quality, the quantity or the price of cannabis, despite thirty years and billions of pounds of effort. It has made no impact on its supply or its demand. An eighth costs the same today as it did twenty years ago, there's less soap bar around and there are more cannabis users than ever before.

Prohibition is doomed to failure because Government has neither the right, nor the ability, to legislate against this kind of personal decision. The fact every day millions of people defy the law proves it is unenforceable. The only way it could ever be fully enforced is through terror. Not the it'll-harm-you sort of terror but the DON'T-YOU-EVEN-THINK-ABOUT-IT sort of terror. The Government could never use the level of force necessary to stop six million people breaking the law. No civilized society would ever be justified in stooping to those levels.

Not that we should change laws just because they're unenforceable. We should change them when they're wrong or when they don't work. Prohibition is wrong, is ineffective and moreover is deeply harmful because it abandons the very people it is supposed to watch over.

The basic principle of drug laws is that some people need protection from themselves. The need to provide a safety net is something we would go along with. But it is impossible for an unregulated market to provide a better safety net than a regulated one.

After all, who's more likely to be accountable, people who need to abide by regulations or people who don't?

Who's got more to lose selling cannabis to a 15 year old, a coffee shop or a dealer?

What's the best way of identifying those people who can and do have a problem with this drug; bring it out into the open or try to hide it away?

Is someone more or less likely to seek help if what they're admitting to is also illegal?

Who is best served to spot people in trouble?

Who's more interested in their recovery?

Prohibition doesn't prevent harm, it causes it. Prohibition makes criminals out of people who have committed no crime. It's enforcement means police resources are diverted away from rapes and murders. It means our courts and jails are less able to deal properly with serious criminals. Prohibition means no taxation which means less money to spend on hospitals and schools. It means we are much less able to provide accurate information to those who seek it. It means the line between cannabis and more harmful drugs is dangerously blurred and it forces millions of people to step outside of the law.

This step is really dangerous for society because it creates an us and them environment, each side eyeing the other with suspicion and mistrust. It is a divisive and punitive and unacceptable law. No Government has the right to decide whether an individual should or should not smoke cannabis. Nobody who drinks alcohol or smokes tobacco (or uses coffee for that matter) should have the ability to prevent someone else choosing a less harmful drug. And teetotallers cannot be allowed to force people to adopt their way of live.

Prohibition is good for no-one, whether they be cannabis users, vulnerable individuals or society at large. On the contrary it has harmed hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of innocent people. This has been a disastrous social experiment which must be ended without delay.

And there is a much better alternative.

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