Media Savvy: the news, and the skews, in the national media

On drugs, like so many people on drugs, Britain is predictable, embarrassing and stuck in the past. Occasionally some bold public figure will admit to once smoking a joint whereupon tradition now dictates that a phalanx of columnists will descend, either to brag about their own boring acid trip in 1982, or to offer terrifying anecdotes about godsons who got hooked on skunk and now aren’t getting into Oxbridge. For the most part, senior politicians simply leave the subject well alone. Two months ago, the all-party parliamentary group on drug reform declared that current policy on medical marijuana was ‘irrational’. The Home Office just shrugged. In the absence of direction, or even debate, British drugs policy drifts, shaped by the whims of police forces. Nobody seems in charge of anything.

Hugo Rifkind, Times, 8 November

The confirmation that a full business case for [a consumption room] is being prepared following a meeting of the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board has generated a predictable gnashing of teeth from those who regard addicts as a criminal underclass undeserving of basic human compassion, let alone state-funded treatment. The critics are only getting warmed up, tossing out phrases such as ‘shooting galleries’ or ‘heroin hotels’, aghast at the prospect of medical-grade opiates being provided under supervision. A few have even offered a taste of the vitriol to come as the plans begin navigate uncertain legislative waters. One right-leaning newspaper warned of a doomsday scenario where ‘pampered users of all ages pump themselves full of freebie drugs’. It is hard to know which addiction is more ruinous: heroin, or this kind of diet of fear, anger and misinformation.

Martyn McLaughlin, Scotsman, 2 November


The long-term aim of drug policy has always been, and should remain, to help addicts recover. But for a small number of vulnerable addicts, safe heroin and a safe place to consume it may be the only answer.

Herald editorial, 1 November


One of the hopes of devolving power to governments in Scotland and Wales was that they would experiment with policies that could spread to the rest of Britain. Glasgow’s promising trial should be watched closely by other cities.

Economist editorial, 5 November


Canada and the US are waking up to the realisation that decades of cannabis prohibition have caused far more problems than they have solved, and it is only a matter of time until such enlightened thinking washes up on shore here.

Henry Fisher, Independent, 21 November