can cause serious harm but the real problem is
not the drugs themselves - it is prohibition. The solution is control
and regulation - in other words full legalisation with appropriate
controls. I am delighted to be a patron of
the campaign for the legalisation of drugs.
I write a blog for the
Guardian CommentisFree I have written several times on drugs e.g.
war on drugs
Drugs policy must be based on evidence
some more things I have broadcast or
written on drugs.
according to ...
(Independent 21.1.04) included the question
What’s the one thing you would do if you
were Prime Minister?
Legalise all drugs. Cannabis, heroin,
ecstasy and cocaine are all potentially extremely dangerous if wrongly
used and can be wonderful if correctly used. At the moment they
are in the hands of the nastiest criminals on the planet. They
have all the control and profits. Prohibition means we can’t
even educate our children on proper use. We have only drug
BBC Radio 4 "You
and Yours" debate on drugs policy 14 October 2003.
The debate asked whether the government was going about solving drug problems
in the right way. I argued that current initiatives are no more than
mopping up the problems caused by prohibition. The real solution is
legalisation. Other speakers talked about removing money from the
control of criminals, and needing more money for treatment. I suggested that
with legalisation and taxation both these aims would be met.
Richard and Judy, discussion on kits
for testing Ecstasy, 22.1.02
Short written submissions were invited from interested parties.
To the Committee,
Please consider the fact that every year in the UK
billions of pounds are controlled by criminals instead of by legitimate
traders and the government. This black market funds global terrorism, as well
as enabling the control of prostitution by pimps, sexual slavery, illegal
munitions trade and other appalling crimes.
Please remember that roughly a half of all crime
in our country is drug related. Reducing this could free up our prisons and
legal services to deal with real criminals.
Please consider the sad fact that by the time they
leave school half of all our children have committed a criminal act by using
drugs. This undermines respect for the law and prevents children from growing
up in a world where drug use is sensibly controlled and advice is reliable.
I hope that one day my own democratically elected
government will have the courage to take the obvious step. We should take all
recreational drugs under state control to be sold in shops, taxed, and
controlled by legislation.
Today our country is staggering under the weight
of unnecessary prohibition. One day some country will have the courage to
break out. I do hope it can be Britain.
Dr Susan Blackmore
Every new year the Edge
Foundation poses a question to its community of famous scientists,
philosophers and thinkers, and their answers are published on the Edge World
Question Center at http://www.edge.org/questioncenter.html
2003 the Edge Question Center sent out a letter saying that "President
George W. Bush is considering asking you to serve as his science adviser. He
asks that you write him a memo addressing, "What are the pressing
scientific issues for the nation
and the world, and what is your advice on how I can begin to deal
My reply was as follows.
And see http://www.edge.org/q2003/question03_index.html#blackmore
I have a dream.
I have a dream that one day we shall look back on today’s society with the
same abhorrence with which we now view Victorian child labour, the oppression
of women, and the evils of slavery.
We shall look back with horror on terrorist attacks, street crime out of
control, and violence marring everyone’s lives—to a time when neither
police nor the law were respected, and half our children were criminals before
they even left school. And we shall wonder why so few people were prepared to
stand up and shout "Enough."
In my dream I can walk down any street in Bristol, Boston, Bogotá or Bombay
and no one will steal my phone to get their next fix. No heroin–dazed beggar
will plead for my change. No crack-crazed youth will kill me for my credit
card. And why? Because in my dream they, like me, can walk down that street
and buy any drug they like.
Cannabis and ecstasy, heroin and cocaine, LSD and aspirin, will all be sold
– clean, legal, properly packaged in precise doses, with appropriate
warnings and proper regulation. Tax revenue will be more than enough to treat
addicts and to guide problem users. Scientists will be free to research the
effects of any drug without fear. Children will be given true advice, and real
drugs education that teaches wise drug use, not ignorant abuse. And global
terrorism will have disappeared for lack of funds.
Our prisons will have room to spare. No one will be there for wanting the
freedom to control their own mind. And no one will be there because gangs have
lured or threatened them into a life of dealing and violence. Police will once
more earn the respect of the majority whose lives they work to protect.
In my dream, the peasants of Afghanistan will work their poppy fields for
legal wages, the farmers of South America will labour free of the fear of the
drug barons, and the profits of world trade will not be siphoned off by the
criminals but returned to the people who earned them.
Mr President, it is the United States of America who long ago brought the evil
of prohibition upon the world, and still holds the power to prevent the rest
of us from seeking freedom from prohibition. Mr President, you could win the
war on terrorism, not by fighting, but by refusing to fight the war on drugs.
As your prospective scientific advisor on issues of mind and consciousness, I
know that there is no more pressing issue than the problem of drugs. I urge
you to act now to free us all.
Dr Susan Blackmore
The Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working?
Memorandum prepared for the Home Affairs Committee. 27 September 2001
I have a dream. In my dream all recreational drugs are sold, properly
packaged, in accurate doses, for a reasonable price, in high street shops.
Anyone over a certain age can buy them, together with all they need to take
them safely, and with accurate health warnings based on fair and unbiassed
research. There are no dealers on the streets. My children are not pestered by
pushers, in danger of being sold poison by their own friends, or tempted to
mix dangerous, dirty drugs in unknown quantities. Their school drugs education
evenings are full of facts and helpful advice, instead of lies, ignorance and
scare stories. Our house is not regularly broken into by kids trying to get
their next fix by stealing our video again.
In my dream world people use drugs more than they abuse them. They use
them for pleasure and fun; for art and inspiration; for insight and therapy.
They teach their children how to use them well and how to avoid trouble. There
are sensible laws and tests to prevent drugged driving and unfitness at work.
Those who do end up abusing drugs find help and treatment freely available,
funded by the ample taxes raised from legal sales.
In my fantasy future no dangerous armed gangs threaten minor dealers
and drag them into ever-deeper trouble. No twelve year old girls end up
selling sex for a pittance to get their illegal drugs - or, worse still, to
get them for their pimp. There is no multi-million pound illegal drug
business, and hence no easy way for terrorists to fund their crimes of
destruction. There are no international drug cartels wielding vast power and
controlling billions of pounds of black market finance while the governments
of the free world stand helplessly by.
All over the world farmers work in adequate conditions to supply good
clean drugs for legal and controlled supply. They are paid a proper wage for
the work they do and no one (neither law enforcement agencies nor criminals)
threatens them with death or torture for their part in the illegal business
— because the business is all legal. People look back on our current 'war
against drugs' with distaste and contempt. They see prohibition as the
ultimate cause of endless human misery and suffering, and cannot understand
how we could have tolerated it for so long. For the sake of myself, my
children, the whole of my country and the people of the third world, I hope it
will not be too long in coming.
I am a scientist and university lecturer, doing research in psychology
and neuroscience. I know that human beings have always taken drugs — indeed
we evolved along with many naturally occurring psychoactive substances. I know
that many drugs have positive effects as well as negative, although it is hard
to do the necessary research to learn more while prohibition is in force. I
know that people will always want drugs, and that fear rarely stops them
finding the drugs they want.
In my opinion decriminalisation is not the answer, but it may be the
best step we can practically take towards the only truly effective drugs
policy, which is full legalisation with proper taxation and control. I am sure
you know better than I all the facts and figures that lie behind the points I
have made here. My purpose in writing to the committee is to do something,
however small, rather than stand by while our society is strangled by drug