Cumbria health chief says ‘make heroin legal’

By chillinwill · Jun 10, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Hard drugs such as heroin should be made legally available and sold to users “over the counter” at pharmacies, says a Cumbrian health chief.

    Professor John Ashton, the county’s outspoken director of public health, voiced the idea as he told professionals working in the field: “The war on drugs has failed. We need to think differently.”

    Addressing dozens of delegates attending the ‘Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives’ conference at Carlisle racecourse yesterday, he likened the current UK drugs situation to that in the United States during Prohibition when alcohol was banned. Despite their illegal status, class A drugs are freely available everywhere, he said.

    Professor Ashton called for a fundamental change in how society tackles illicit drugs, suggesting that it should be an offence to promote their use rather than use them.

    He said: “What we have done by having illegal drugs is what America did by creating illegal alcohol in the 1930s, when there was Al Capone, and mayhem, and a huge industry around it.

    “Alcohol and tobacco are marketed in a very flamboyant way with pop stars and sportsmen in the tabloids and on television.

    “That’s what I would restrict: promoting the use of these drugs, whether alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, should be a serious offence.”

    Professor Ashton backed “controlled availability” for Class A and other illegal drugs for personal use by adults.

    He said: “If you were buying them from a pharmacy they’d know who you are. It would involve adults signing for drugs so there would be no possibility of creating another black market. I’m sure it will come.

    “We’re so focused on criminal issues that we can’t address prevention. We put vast resources into prisons and keeping people in prisons, where people start taking drugs.

    “We have now got a vast illegal industry with some very rich drug barons and neighbourhoods ripped apart by drug-related violence. Controlled availability would take away the trade’s oxygen, its market.”

    Professionals in the field of drug and alcohol abuse – the latter producing a far more devastating effect on society – should refocus on reducing demand.

    More effort should be poured into helping children discover their own talents, and passions and a life path. The professor cited the work of John McKnight, who supports agencies mobilising communities to use their talents to help themselves.

    Another speaker was Superintendent Paul Carter, of Cumbria Police. He disagreed with Professor Ashton, saying: “Class A drugs destroy the fabric of people’s lives and family lives. We have to do everything we can to get people away from drugs like heroin and cocaine.”

    The conference included organisations including Addiction Dependency Solutions, Cumbria Police, Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service, and Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Action Team, which organised the event. The conference marked the start of National Tackling Drugs Week.

    Last updated 18:23, Tuesday, 09 June 2009
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  1. Abrad
    I could not agree more with the professor and I admire him greatly for speaking out on the issue.
  2. Euthanatos93420
    Sometimes you read things like this that really fill you with hope for the world. Then you realise that if this guy had any serious political weight he'd probably be dead already (or very soon).

    We can only hope.

    Oh wait nvm. This is UK. No wonder I was having a hard time figuring out where the fuck cumbria is. LOL Still, you guys across the 'pond' always manage to be a step ahead of us in dealing with the puritans. Hmm...wonder why that is.
  3. cannabis-sam
    This seems to be a standard line used by nearly every policeman and politician on the issue of drugs. They say "Drugs destroy communities and ruin lives" without addressing the issue of why drugs destroy communities and lives. This argument is completely vacuous and has no real substance.

    If only people would do a little bit of research....
  4. Euthanatos93420
    Like seriously...if it's true then why the fuck do they have to say it OVER and OVER again. Hitler always said it's better to tell a big lie than a little one and if you say it long enough and loud enough eventually people will believe you.

    Truth is that drugs don't do anything. People do. Time to start taking responsibility for our lives and society and stop feeding this parasite of a psuedogovernment (prohibition).
  5. Rightnow289
    THE boss of a South Wales drugs charity says heroin should be offered to addicts who have proved untreatable on substitutes like methadone.
    Martin Blakebrough, chief executive of South Wales drugs charity Kaleidoscope, said fresh thinking is needed on how to deal with a hard core of addicts who cannot be moved on from a life of crime through heroin substitutes.
    He said trials that have seen addicts offered heroin at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust should also be run here.
    The trials are designed to steer addicts away from funding their habit through crime.
    Based in Newport, Mr Blakebrough’s charity treats more than 160 addicts in Cardiff and the Valleys.
    Mr Blakebrough said: “We’re a prescriber and I could see a case for us prescribing opiates. But I think the reality is that it would be the specialist service like the NHS that would be providing them.”
    Mr Blakebrough said before the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 came into force doctors were effectively free to prescribe heroin.
    He said: “I would be very supportive of such a trial. I think it would be important that if you were going to do a trial that it would need to be in an area where you had a chief constable who was supportive of that sort of work.
    “You’d have to work very closely with the police because there are lots of safety issues you’d have to comply with.”
    Director of Aberdare-based Treatment, Education and Drugs Services, Jean Harrington said a trial would reduce harm to addicts as prescribed heroin would be cleaner than its street-sold equivalent.
    But she said the evidence about the benefits of heroin prescription trials is mixed.
    A South Wales Police spokesman said: “The direct link between drug addiction and criminal behaviour is common place right across the UK, and here in South Wales we are no different.
    “However, the nation’s approach to the rehabilitation of drug addicts is not initially a decision for individual police forces, but first and foremost a consideration for our policy makers working in government.
    “Over time, pilot initiatives will inform us all about the true impact that such a change in policy can have upon the relationship between crime and drug addiction,” he said.
    “Like all other forces throughout England and Wales, we will await the findings.”

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