The news and views from the national media

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Legalisation would no doubt suit places such as Vancouver, New York or Liverpool. But how would it work in wretched barrios around the cities of central and South America, townships of Africa and eventually dormitory towns of China and Bangladesh?… Because if hard drugs are legal, who is going to make them? Presumably the experts who already do, working not for narco syndicates but Big Pharma, another kind of cartel. And do we really trust Big Pharma to manufacture methamphetamine and process crack or heroin in order to sell as little as possible in the developing world? That’s not how Big Pharma works; that’s not how capitalism works.

Ed Vulliamy, Observer, 18 January

The emergence of the more toxic PMA following the so-called ‘success’ in reducing MDMA production is just one of many examples of how prohibition of one drug leads to greater harm from an alternative that is developed to overcome the block… let’s stop pretending that these PMA deaths are unexpected effects of rogue ‘ecstasy’ and tell the truth: they are a consequence of our current illogical and punitive drug policy.

David Nutt, Guardian, 5 January

For cannabis it is the ‘tobacco moment’. The long-suspected link between consuming cannabis and developing schizophrenia has been repeatedly confirmed by recent studies. Observers say that for cannabis the present moment is similar to that half a century ago when scientific proof of a connection between smoking tobacco and cancer became so strong that no serious doctor or scientist could deny it.

Patrick Cockburn, Independent, 6 January

It makes little sense to deal with new substances in isolation. If there is a solution to the difficult problem of seeking alternatives to the war on drugs, it very likely lies not only in looking forward, as New Zealand attempted, but also looking back and reflecting on the laws we already have.

Ross Bell, New Scientist, 12 January

If you were born after the 1960s, then policy-wise, drug prohibition is likely all you know. From the day we’re born we’re taught that drug use is bad and perhaps immoral. Whether or not they are very successful, I personally, believe drug laws are generally at least driven by good intentions. As it is unlikely that drug policy will change anytime soon, it is important to consider how our attitudes are shaped under such policy.

Joseph Palamar, Independent, 13 January

If standardised packaging – there is nothing plain about a cigarette pack emblazoned with graphic health warnings and holograms – does not deter some people from smoking, then it is hard to understand why the tobacco industry fought tooth and nail to prevent its introduction in Australia. The industry knew that if these unbranded, anti-smoking packs became the norm in one large and affluent country, there would be a domino effect. Sure enough, the UK, Ireland and France are all in the process of toppling… Will standardised packaging deter children in the UK from smoking? If it works, even modestly, in Australia, there is no reason to suppose it will not have the same sort of effect here.

Sarah Boseley, Guardian, 22 January