Media savvy

The new law to ban legal highs will fail because proving psychoactivity requireslegalhighs expensive testing of the substances in specialised laboratories, and there is simply no budget big enough to carry out the work. A legal logjam awaits. Yet these drugs are not safe: users of synthetic cannabis are 30 times more likely to end up in the back of an ambulance than users of natural cannabis. Mike Power, Guardian, 10 May


Bad though the definition is – not a small problem when the entire law rests on it – the [Psychoactive Substances] Act is actually much better than is usually admitted… the government, for the first time, has decided that a class of recreational drugs are too dangerous to be sold but that it shouldn’t be a crime to possess them. The pressure on the government to act on legal highs has been relieved, without ordinary users being criminalised. For all the problems with the new law, it’s a step in the right direction. Leo Barasi, New Statesman, 25 May


Some things are unsayable in British politics. One such is the truth that cannabis has been, for many years, a decriminalised drug. The police, the CPS and the courts have given up any serious effort to arrest and prosecute users, just as evidence starts to pour in that it is extremely dangerous. Instead our elite moan about ‘prohibition’, which does not exist, and the cruel ‘criminalisation’ of dope-smokers, which would be their own fault if it happened, but actually doesn’t. Arrests for this offence are rarer every week, and some police forces openly say they don’t do it any more. Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 1 May


The most pressing issue right now in prisons is safety. [Michael] Gove needs to act to reduce violence and suicides. And the easiest way to address that is the one Gove can’t bear to entertain: cutting prisoner numbers… Gove deserves credit for seeing that our prisons aren’t working. Now he needs to be more radical to fix them. Rosamund Urwin, London Evening Standard, 19 May



Our prisons are crammed full of too many people serving short sentences for minor crimes. They often have a multitude of other problems: homelessness; mental health issues; drug or alcohol addiction; learning disabilities. A quarter of adults in prison have been in care as children… The government deserves credit for recognising, at long last, that prison doesn’t work. But reforming prisons, while a worthy task, will not by itself end the cycle of disadvantage so many children are born into. Observer editorial, 22 May