“I HAD NEVER been into drugs, not even at university, where they were supposed to be freely available. Well, to be strictly accurate, I’d been offered a spliff at a party once, but, like all those people in high places who set such a good example for lesser mortals to follow, I hadn’t actually inhaled; according to my friends in the know, this defeated the object of the exercise.

In my professional capacity, drink and drugs formed a sizeable part of my practice, from yobs in town centres drinking themselves senseless, assuming they had any sense in the first place, to lowlife on dark street corners offering coke, and brown, and hash, and speed, and E’s and anything else that took your fancy. It was very depressing, as it was to the bobbies on the beat who found themselves in the front line, night after night, when they weren’t back at the station filling in forms.”

Reproduced by kind permission of Monday Books from May It Please Your Lordship by Toby Potts.

Banner headline in my newspaper: Make all drug use legal, say experts.  They must be on something! These ‘experts’ are two bodies describing themselves respectively as the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health.  Question: why do we need two when none will do?  And are they related in any way to that strange woman, I forget her name, who claimed to be the Chief Medical Officer, and who wanted to ban us from drinking?

These experts tell us that an addiction to controlled drugs is the same as an addiction to alcohol or tobacco. “We don’t make a moral judgement on those.”  Don’t we?  Where have these experts been for the past several years?  We have laws banning smoking all all public places, and now all cigarettes are to be sold in plain packets.  We have laws banning drinking and driving, and now, almost all alcoholic beverages carry a ‘drink awareness’ message. In addition, the consumption of alcohol can and should be controlled by the vendors, whether supermarkets or public houses.  They must assume some responsibility in return for the profits they make.

Like Toby Potts, I have never tried any controlled drugs, be they Class A, B or C, but as somebody said, and it may have been me: “You don’t need to feed from the trough to know how pigs live.”   I am wholly convinced of their damaging effects, damaging not just for the user but also for those in their close proximity.  How many times in the recent past have we heard excuses for criminal behaviour blamed on drugs?

Besides making all drugs legal, these ‘cloud cuckoo’ experts suggest that young people should be given more education on the risk of drugs at school.  But these schools, especially inner city ones, are so overcrowded the teachers can’t hear themselves think.  They also call on the NHS to take over responsibility for dealing with addicts.  But the NHS is already in debt to the tune of £2.4 billion, so where is this extra funding coming from?

The fact that, according to some, we are losing the war on drugs doesn’t mean we should simply surrender.  There can be no excuse for the abuse of drugs or alcohol, and if this means the continued enforcement of criminal sanctions, then so be it.  These experts, like so many of their predecessors, simply don’t think it through, and an informed debate on drugs, crime and punishment is cheapened by these silly suggestions.  As for funding, let’s abolish these bodies and invest the money in reducing the NHS crippling debt.

David Osborne is the author of three humorous books on the Law.  His latest, entitled Order in Court, is now available in all reputable bookstores and on Amazon.


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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

2 thoughts on “GONE TO POT”

  1. 15 years ago Portugal decriminalized drugs. The rate of new HIV infections in Portugal has fallen since 2001, the year its law took effect, declining from 1,016 cases to only 56 in 2012. Overdose deaths decreased from 80 the year that decriminalization was enacted to only 16 in 2012. In the US, by comparison, more than 14,000 people died in 2014 from prescription opioid overdoses alone. Portugal’s current drug-induced death rate, three per million residents, is more than five times lower than the European Union’s average of 17.3, according to EU figures.

    1. An interesting point, but hardly like for like. Portugal has a completely different socio-economic structure. The country is Catholic, with a strong emphasis on family. In addition, I am not aware of one single Portuguese citizen following their team in France who has been arrested for throwing bricks and bottles at opposing fans or the police.

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