Last week the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced that cannabis we be downgraded to a class C drug in the UK’s legal classification of drugs. The effect of this change will be that possession of small amounts of cannabis will be effectively decriminalised. This follows an experiment along these lines in Lambeth over recent months.
The Daily Mail dislikes this decision a lot and every front page since the announcement has had a story saying how terrible this is and campaigning against this policy.
The problem is that, much as I hate to admit it, on this occasion the Mail may well be right. Let’s look at the evidence…
I go to Brixton occasionally and to other areas of Lambeth more frequently. Recently walking out of Brixton tube station has become a nightmare. You have to push thru crowds of people trying to sell you all kinds of drugs. On Saturday night, just outside Clapham North tube station I was offered drugs by a group of teenagers who got a bit unfriendly when I didn’t buy anything. This kind of behaviour has become much worse since the drugs laws were loosened in the area.
Unfortunately it seems as tho’ decriminalisation will lead to more of this unpleasantness. If the drugs were completely illegal (as there were until recently) then this kind of activity does go on, but it’s far more low key. You don’t come across it as you’re just walking down a main street. You have to know exactly where to go to be offered drugs on the street. On the other hand, if the drugs were made completely legal, then you would buy packets of joints from the newsagents and there would be no reason for pushy drugs sales-people on the street corner.
It’s only this current “halfway house” that seems to give us the worst of all possible results. I wonder if it’s a deliberate ploy by the government to seem as tho’ they’re being liberal, whilst all the time knowing that the experiment will fail and they’ll be forced to withdraw it.