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How to generate massive tax revenues while significantly reducing crime and its associated cost?

Comment 5th July 2010

Let me be clear. This isn’t a revolutionary idea – or even unique. It’s a simple, effective approach that will deliver results. If our Government want raise significant tax revenues, while at the same time reducing monetary and social costs, then it’s time for a fresh approach to drugs policy.

I agree that proscribed drugs can be harmful and that they can even kill you. I agree that some poor souls don’t have a sufficient mental constitution, and have the propensity to ‘loose’ their minds thru experimenting with potentially harmful substances. I’m sure a few folk reading this could cite one or two casualties they’ve known, or even heard of, over the years who are good examples of how drugs ‘can’ mess you up.  (Note: Don’t include media hype here as we all know they’re prone to BS)

But here’s the thing. So many everyday items, household good and social institutions all have the capacity to harm or even kill. It’s a fact that swimming pools are more dangerous to kids than guns but we don’t ban them. In the UK more than 1000 people die every year from falling down stairs, while according to the Office of National Statistics only 897 people died from heroin and methadone in 2008 – isn’t this a lethal substance?. Ironically a much larger percentage of people suffer a fatal acute reaction to peanuts than to MDMA, the active ingredient in Ecstasy, which is a Class A banned substance. Who would consider banning peanuts? Mind you that’s another post perhaps…

I agree that even one person dying is tragic – particularly for the family – but it’s time to get real. Deaths from illicit drugs pale into statistical insignificance compared to alcohol and, of course, tobacco. But we don’t ban them do we? No we apply the only viable strategy, which is to license, regulate and tax these industries. So why don’t we do the same with ‘drugs’ then?

Let me say once again – I’m not advocating drug use of any kind. I whole heartedly believe that ‘recreational’ drugs can be deleterious, especially to young impressionable minds. I would prefer that everyone didn’t need a chemical fix for a bad day or even a bad life. But who’s kidding who here. Millions reach for a cigarette, or a glass of wine, or even slice of cake when their shadow calls.  Unless you’re an enlightened being – and I’m sure you believe you are – I’m afraid you’re with the rest of us aspirers, each with our own ‘drug’ of choice, even if you’re too out of focus to realise.

I wrote to Michael Howard (Home Secretary of the day in 1994 explaining why his policy and ‘war of drugs’ could never work and would therefore end in failure. I could have written it verbatim today and it still would be current and spot on. It’s time for positive action not yesterday’s rhetoric. I think the great Einstein perfectly sums up our counter-productive drug policies when he said, “any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction”.

Let’s hope Dave and Nick has what it takes.

Why does this matter?

It’s important because:

  • It will raise massive tax revenues
  • It will reduce crime
  • It will improve the health of drug-users
  • It will reduce NHS expenditure
  • It will pull the rug from under the criminal’s feet who can’t believe their monopoly is still intact
  • It will reduce the appeal of drugs to kids over time
  • It will free up court time, prison cells and the ruining of many decent people’s lifes
  • It’s a sound idea  
  • But above all of these benefits, it will actually work!

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