Opinion: Should ecstasy be decriminalised?
Earlier this year Richard Branson, saviour of Northern Rock and would-be space adventurer advocated a change in our drug laws. He said that drug-takers should not be locked up, and that drug-taking should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal matter.
His main reasoning was that he believed it would lead to a fall in use, as has happened in other countries that have tried it. Drug use is often just a passing phase which causes no long-term harm. Why criminalise a young person for that and possibly affect the rest of their lives?
And I have to say I agree with him. But I would go even further. It is clear that current laws are not working, particularly in respect of ecstasy.
The National Criminal Intelligence Service estimates that between half a million and 2 million people take E’s every week. But because it is illegal we have no idea of the true picture.
Branson has no agenda. He isn’t trying to appeal to a middle England electorate who are so anti-drugs they can’t countenance any liberalisation. He can speak freely, something that can’t be said of other players in the debate.
Poor Professor David Nutt was forced out of government for giving an honest evidence based opinion, but unfortunately what he was saying wasn’t politically acceptable.
A 2011 study carried out by Harvard Medical School found no signs of cognitive impairment due to ecstasy use, and that it did not decrease mental ability. The report also raised concerns that previous methods used to conduct that research on ecstasy had been flawed, and the experiments
overstated the cognitive differences between ecstasy users and nonusers.
Drug laws are all about control and currently they are out of control.
We are leaving all the power in the hands of the dealers, who just care about profit and not the health and wellbeing of their customers. They cut drugs with substances and there is little way of knowing what it is.
If supplies were controlled people would know exactly what they were taking. Many bars and pubs will refuse to serve people who are too drunk. In fact they are breaking the law if they serve a visibly drunk person. A similar rule could govern drug sales. Again more control.
There may also be a knock on effect of reducing the power of gangs.
Some people undoubtedly will get addicted and need help, much as the same as happens today. They could be helped. Instead of most of the moment going to dealers and being used to buy flash cars and guns, it could be put to use in the National Health Service or drug rehabilitation centres.
We need some sanity in our drug laws. Decriminalising ecstasy would be a start.
Do you agree? Or do you disagree? Post your comment below.