Media savvy

savvypaperThe Psychoactive Substances Act should have become law today, but its implementation has been delayed while ministers work out what they have banned… The legislation is an attempt to clamp down on designer substances that, for instance, mimic the effects of cannabis; yet arrests for possession of the real drug have collapsed in the past five years because the police say they have better things to do. The number of people cautioned or charged for possessing cannabis has also fallen dramatically even though survey data suggests cannabis use remained roughly level over the same period. This policy is confusing and incoherent. The government needs to be sure its new act works properly before putting it into practice.

Telegraph editorial, 5 April


Just say no. That’s supposed to be our reaction to recreational drugs. The trouble is, lots of people say yes please. As a result, the world’s governments have been waging a war on drugs for more than a century. Since 1961, the battle has been orchestrated via international treaties targeting all parts of the supply chain, from the producers to the smugglers, the sellers to the buyers. Yet this supposedly united front has developed some conspicuous cracks.

New Scientist editorial, 6 April


Howard Marks won affection because he lived a big, brash, blame-filled life, and, more importantly, was never, ever boring. His tales were strewn with innocent victims, but who cared, because he was such a stonkingly good raconteur.

Grace Dent, Independent, 11 April


[Howard Marks] never bumped anyone off himself. But sending a few million to a Colombian drug cartel is no better than doing business with Islamic State. It may even be worse: the sadistic inventiveness of Latin America’s cartel hitmen is more sophisticated than anything that goes on in the ‘caliphate’.

Tom Wainwright, Guardian, 12 April

[Howard Marks] was a fierce and instinctive defender of free speech, a rare and precious quality…

What a pleasing contrast he was to the pitiful Nick Clegg, who ceaselessly calls for drug law liberalisation with the ingratiating smarminess of a newly hatched curate.

He was at it again on the BBC’s Newsnight last week. The programme, which recently gave the ridiculous Russell Brand a free platform for his wet opinions on drugs, filmed Mr Clegg wandering around Colombia, mouthing pro-legalisation pieties.

The former deputy prime minister clearly knows almost nothing about the subject. He’s never met a cliché or a fat, juicy slab of conventional wisdom that he doesn’t like.

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday,

18 April