The news, and the skews, in the national media
2018 is already a watershed in global drugs policy. Cannabis is partially legal in most US states; Canada will follow soon; Germany, France and Italy are all reviewing policy… When you consider what a green wave could do for Britain – freeing police and court time and saving lives, as well as unleashing innovation, raising revenue – our approach seems absurd. The only people who benefit from the current situation are criminals. Instead of a safe, regulated market we are awash with psychotic skunk controlled by violent gangs. Richard Godwin, London Evening Standard, 3 January
There’s appetite to reform the UK’s drug laws, but it has to be done right. The public are ahead of politicians, with recent polling showing that more people support a legal, regulated cannabis market than oppose it. The government’s silence on this crucial issue is deafening.
Daniel Pryor, Guardian, 18 January
In this climate of punitive neglect, addiction and obesity are dismissed as diseases of choice, which to use that most class-bound of Tory insults, the ‘nanny state’ cannot cure. It’s true that breaking free from heroin, alcohol or sugar requires an effort of individual will. It is equally true that it is easier to summon the strength to quit when others are on hand to help. These truths ought to be self-evident. But they are not evident in Britain.
Nick Cohen, Observer, 7 January
Lazy stereotypes also let us off the hook when we really should be getting to grips with the deeper social issues that are the cause of problematic drug use. One reason people use drugs is to cope with difficult life circumstances. People who have been through trauma or abuse are more likely to find their drug use leads to dependency. These are people who need our support – they don’t need to be labelled, condemned and pushed further away. Nick Clegg, Mirror, 10 January
With many medical schools failing to include addiction in their curriculum this sends a clear message early on in doctors’ medical careers that patients with drug dependence problems don’t matter… The derogatory language we use to describe people who use drugs is merely a symptom of a deeper problem. The danger of adopting a new vocabulary while retaining the same values and attitudes is that we sound more accepting but really nothing has changed from the patient’s point of view. I hope I am wrong.
Ian Hamilton, BMJ, 17 January