Source: Essex Evening Gazette, UK

Pub Date: Wednesday April 03 2002

Author: Don Barnard

Response Contact:





 Sir, - Recent comments on the cannabis cafe saga highlights the need for a truly open dialogue regarding cannabis in which fear, prejudice, punitive prohibition yield to science, common sense and practicality.

I agree we need to protect the community from the consequences of inappropriate cannabis use.

But - as is becoming increasingly clear - prohibition is neither an effective nor a desirable way of doing this.

Furthermore, the war on some drugs has impeded public health efforts to stem underage drinking, vandalism, anti social behaviour the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

Human rights have been violated, and prison has been inundated with tens of thousand of drug law violators.

In all these respects the consequences of drug prohibition replicate - and often exceed - the alcohol prohibition in the 1920s America.

Alcohol prohibition in the USA reminds us, too, of the health costs of drugs prohibition: Practically every illicit drug purchased at retail level contains adulterants [including cannabis resin], many of which are far more dangerous than the drug itself.

80million was spent last year arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating cannabis -law violators.

This has resulted in choked courts and prisons, required law enforcement resources to be diverted from investigating other crimes and more worthier ends such education and economic development to be squandered on ever-more expensive doomed to failure interdiction efforts.

Let's be adult about this. Drop the 'Zero tolerance' rhetoric and policies of illusory goal of a drug free society.

Accept that cannabis is here to stay, and we have no choice but to learn to live with it so cannabis causes the least possible harm and the greatest possible benefit - Coffee shops are within this remit.

Don Barnard, Legalise Cannabis Alliance