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Tsar admits: we've lost the war on drugs
The Scotsman ^ | Sun 18 Jun 2006 | MARCELLO MEGA AND KATE FOSTER

Posted on 06/18/2006 9:22:25 AM PDT by SittinYonder

SCOTLAND'S drugs tsar has sparked a furious row by openly declaring that the war on drugs is "long lost".

Tom Wood, a former deputy chief constable, is the first senior law enforcement figure publicly to admit drug traffickers will never be defeated.

Wood said no nation could ever eradicate illegal drugs and added that it was time for enforcement to lose its number one priority and be placed behind education and deterrence.

But his remarks have been condemned by Graeme Pearson, director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), who said he "strongly disagreed" with Wood.

The row has erupted as concern mounts about the apparent inability of police, Customs and other agencies to stem the flow of illegal drugs. It was reported yesterday that an eight-year-old Scottish school pupil had received treatment for drug addiction.

And despite decades of drug enforcement costing millions of pounds, Scotland has one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with an estimated 50,000 addicts. At least half a million Scots are believed to have smoked cannabis and 200,000 are believed to have taken cocaine.

Wood holds the influential post of chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, a body which advises the Executive on future policy. The fact that Wood and Pearson are at loggerheads over the war on drugs is severely embarrassing for ministers.

Wood said: "I spent much of my police career fighting the drugs war and there was no one keener than me to fight it. But latterly I have become more and more convinced that it was never a war we could win.

"We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that. So the message has to be more sophisticated than 'just say no' because that simple message doesn't work.

"For young people who have already said 'yes', who live in families and communities where everybody says 'yes', we have to recognise that the battle is long lost."

He added: "Throughout the last three decades, enforcement has been given top priority, followed by treatment and rehabilitation, with education and deterrence a distant third.

"In order to make a difference in the long term, education and deterrence have to go to the top of the pile. We have to have the courage and commitment to admit that we have not tackled the problem successfully in the past. We have to win the arguments and persuade young people that drugs are best avoided."

Wood said he "took his hat off" to the SCDEA and added that it was essential to carry on targeting dealers. He stressed he was not advocating the decriminalisation or legalisation of any drugs.

"It's about our priorities and our thinking," said Wood. "Clearly, at some stage, there could be resource implications, but the first thing we have to do is realise we can't win any battles by continuing to put enforcement first."

But Pearson, director of the SCDEA, said he "fundamentally disagreed" that the war on drugs was lost.

"I strongly disagree when he says that the war on drugs in Scotland is lost. The Scottish Executive Drug Action Plan acknowledged that tackling drug misuse is a complex problem, demanding many responses. It is explicit within the strategy that to effectively tackle drug misuse, the various pillars of the plan cannot operate in isolation."

Alistair Ramsay, former director of Scotland Against Drugs, said: "We must never lose sight of the fact that enforcement of drug law is a very powerful prevention for many people and, if anything, drug law should be made more robust.

"The current fixation with treatment and rehabilitation on behalf of the Executive has really got to stop."

And Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "I accept Wood's sincerity, but this is a very dangerous message to go out. I would never say that we have lost the war on drugs. Things are dire, but we should never throw up the white flag."

But Wood's view was backed by David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, who said: "We have never used the term 'drugs war' and it's right to move away from that sort of approach. For every £1 spent on treatment, £9-£18 is saved, including in criminal justice. The balance has been skewed towards more punitive aspects."

And John Arthur, manager of the drugs advice organisation Crew 2000, said: "I think Tom Wood is right. This is something our organisation has been arguing for for a long time and it is good to see this is now coming into the mainstream."

Among the ideas now backed by Wood is less reliance on giving methadone as a substitute to heroin addicts.

He says other substitutes should be considered, as well as the possibility of prescribing heroin itself or abstinence programmes.

One new method being examined by experts is neuro-electric therapy, which sends electrical pulses through the brain. One addict with a five-year habit, Barry Philips, 24, from Kilmarnock, said the treatment enabled him to come off heroin in only five days.

Wood said: "We need to look at the other options. Other substitutes are used in other countries. They even prescribe heroin in Switzerland and there is a pilot in Germany, with pilots also mooted in England and, more recently, Scotland. We need to have a fully informed debate."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We have a very clear policy on drugs, which is to balance the need to tackle supply and challenge demand. They have to go hand in hand and we make no apology for that."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: bringoutthenuts; drugskilledbelushi; drugtsar; knowyourleroy; leroyknowshisrights; mrleroybait; scotland; thatsmrleroytoyou; wod; wodlist; wosomed
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We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that. So the message has to be more sophisticated than 'just say no' because that simple message doesn't work.

And Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "I accept Wood's sincerity, but this is a very dangerous message to go out. I would never say that we have lost the war on drugs. Things are dire, but we should never throw up the white flag."

1 posted on 06/18/2006 9:22:28 AM PDT by SittinYonder
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To: eyespysomething; freepatriot32; freedom44
I spent much of my police career fighting the drugs war and there was no one keener than me to fight it. But latterly I have become more and more convinced that it was never a war we could win.

FWIW ... Drug Tsar in Scotland says WOD there is lost.

2 posted on 06/18/2006 9:25:08 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: robertpaulsen

Ping.


3 posted on 06/18/2006 9:25:36 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: SittinYonder

Fortunately, in the US, we have a drug czar, not a drugs tsar.


4 posted on 06/18/2006 9:30:21 AM PDT by proxy_user
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To: SittinYonder

Why didn't Singapore lose its war on drugs?


5 posted on 06/18/2006 9:30:39 AM PDT by Joe Bfstplk (I am going to be assertive...If that is OK with you.)
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To: SittinYonder
wrong war and the wrong time?

end the war on pot and ramp up the war on real drugs. then you might have a real war worth fighting.

6 posted on 06/18/2006 9:30:42 AM PDT by postaldave (McCain & Bush, you traitorous !#!$!!s. you two are no different then ted kennedy.)
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To: proxy_user
Fortunately, in the US, we have a drug czar, not a drugs tsar.

Excellent point.

7 posted on 06/18/2006 9:31:07 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: SittinYonder

We've lost it here too, just the big government crowd, and most conservatives can't let it go.


8 posted on 06/18/2006 9:32:24 AM PDT by KoRn
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To: Joe Bfstplk
Why didn't Singapore lose its war on drugs?

Because Singapore does it right. The only way we will win the war on drugs is if we make the punishment so harsh that no one will choose to use drugs.

I have long said that the only way we will win the war on drugs is if we impose the death penalty for possession. Others have suggested it is unreasonable and harsh, and maybe it is, but you can't win a war without piling up some bodies.

9 posted on 06/18/2006 9:33:41 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: Joe Bfstplk

Because Singapore is very small, and is willing to sacrifice almost all freedoms we and the British hold dear for the sake of social order.

Stopping people from ruining their lives by screwing up their brain chemistry isn't worth the cost of living in a police state.


10 posted on 06/18/2006 9:34:42 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: KoRn
We've lost it here too

I would argue that we haven't started fighting it here. See my post #9. There is no real committment from the U.S. Government for winning the War on Drugs. If there was, it would have been over in 1992.

11 posted on 06/18/2006 9:34:54 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: SittinYonder

We are such a bunch of sentimental wusses that is not going to happen.

Can you imagine executing a cute, upper-class college girl for giving out cocaine to all her friends?

It is not realistic in the type of society we have.


12 posted on 06/18/2006 9:35:50 AM PDT by proxy_user
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To: SittinYonder
Things are dire, but we should never throw up the white flag."

Absolutely! Protect the money interest in the drug trade at all costs!

13 posted on 06/18/2006 9:36:55 AM PDT by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: Joe Bfstplk

Because Singapore already is the kind of police state that is utterly necessary to carry out such a policy effectively.


14 posted on 06/18/2006 9:39:02 AM PDT by thoughtomator (A thread without a comment on immigration is not complete)
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To: proxy_user
It is not realistic in the type of society we have.

Then we've lost the war on drugs here, too.

It has been demonstrated over and over again that people are willing to risk any level of punishment to take drugs. Even though everyone knows the risks of overdose (that could lead to death), people still choose to use drugs.

When you take into account what people are willing to risk, I think the only option for winning the war on drugs is to make death a certainty.

Execute a few of those cute, upper-class college girls for possession and pretty soon the WOD is won.

15 posted on 06/18/2006 9:39:29 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: The_Reader_David
Stopping people from ruining their lives by screwing up their brain chemistry isn't worth the cost of living in a police state.

Exactly.

16 posted on 06/18/2006 9:40:05 AM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: SittinYonder
I have long said that the only way we will win the war on drugs is if we impose the death penalty for possession. Others have suggested it is unreasonable and harsh, and maybe it is, but you can't win a war without piling up some bodies.

Are you willing to volunteer your services as executioner? Will you walk up a put a bullet in the first 14 year old kid we catch with a joint in his pocket?

17 posted on 06/18/2006 9:40:08 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: SittinYonder

We haven't won the "war on drugs" because it isn't a "war." There is no end to it. There is no point at some future date that all drugs will vanish and all the users and dealers will surrender.

That does not mean that we should stop enforcing the laws. The "war" is actually an on-going struggle against one of society's worst sicknesses.


18 posted on 06/18/2006 9:40:30 AM PDT by durasell (!)
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To: The_Reader_David
Stopping people from ruining their lives by screwing up their brain chemistry isn't worth the cost of living in a police state.

Oh really? What about the absolutely enormous cost of continuing an ineffective policy? Either we ramp it up and stomp out drug use or we'll have to admit the same kind of defeat this drug tsar in Scotland is admitting.

19 posted on 06/18/2006 9:41:28 AM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: SittinYonder
" There is no real committment from the U.S. Government for winning the War on Drugs. If there was, it would have been over in 1992."

I don't disagree. The problem is, if people want to do something, they are going to do it. This applies to drugs. When there are people out there who want to use drugs, it creates demand, and we both know if there is demand there WILL be a willing supplier for that demand somewhere. There is no stopping it, the only thing the government can do is hope to slow it down and make it more difficult, but the end result will be the same.

20 posted on 06/18/2006 9:41:53 AM PDT by KoRn
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