Drugs, Morality, The Law & Peter Hitchens

I expect I have more time for Peter Hitchens than many libertarians.  Credit where credit’s due, I say; the man has been on the right side of a great many issues over the last few years, such as the defence of habeas corpus, jury trials and other hard-won limitations on state power; he has been resolutely against ID cards and other ‘Big Brother’ measures; and he has denounced the foreign military adventurism of this and the last government with greater logic and principle than the likes of George Galloway and the far left. So far, so good. This is the part of the journey which the libertarian shares with the Burkean conservative. That journey does however start and end in different places.

Nothing is more indicative of this than Hitchens’ lone knight attack on the state’s failure to prosecute a war on drugs.  Perhaps this is not a solitary tilt, but Peter breaks away and makes his primary targets cannabis, not crack or heroin, and users, rather than suppliers. Judged solely as a strategy to win the drug war, his logic may well be correct. With regard to the latter target, he is identifying the demand, not the supply. If the demand could be curtailed, through draconian law enforcement, then the supply ceases to be problematic.  As for cannabis, perhaps it is the generally-held view that it is not harmful, and that it is tolerated by a large part of society, which saps the moral fibre of those required to enforce the prohibitions.  Therefore, Hitchens’ has set himself the task of presenting the case that cannabis is far from harmless, most notably with regard to the evidence of a link to mental illness, but above all his denunciation of drug use is on the grounds of immorality.

Let us accept this latter charge for the moment, and define drug use as immoral. Without wishing to fully make the case, I will suggest that this could be based on drugs as a deliverer of pleasure, where no pleasure has been earned. Without drugs, we must strive to achieve goals, and when we do so, then we feel happiness. We may of course feel happiness due to good fortune, but even in this case, the happiness derives from a rational appraisal of our situation. The drive to improve our situation is the basis of all rational human action, but with drugs, no such effort is required, and pleasure can be attained notwithstanding the absence of the conditions a rational mind would see as satisfactory. The junky may be living in squalor, but feels on top of the world, at least for a while.   The drug user melts away the lack of satisfaction in his everyday life, and dissipates his motivation to better himself, and thereby wastes his talent and fritters away his life.

Furthermore, a drug abuser can cause a great deal of mental anguish to his family and friends, who see him harming himself but they cannot stop him, and upon whom he makes himself a burden, incapable of supportinghimself, and by extension of supporting others, for whom he may be obligated to support.  How is this wastrel’s life not immoral?

So, as before, let us accept without further quibble, that drug-taking is immoral. The question is; so what? That does not make it a crime. To be a crime, there is a higher bar to jump; namely that you have committed an act which aggressed against someone else’s physical person or property, or that you threatened to do so. It’s not a crime to give yourself over to cheap pleasure, and no matter how harmful that may be, if you do it to yourself, if it an act of informed consent, then no crime has taken place.

Back from this likely come two ripostes. The first will be the link between other crimes and drug use, i.e., crimes committed under the influence of drugs or the influence of a drug addiction.  This becomes irrelevant, if the actual, proper crime is properly dealt with. It is this failure of the criminal justice system to punish actual, proper crimes which needs addressing. The same story plays out over and over again:

Criminal: I’m sorry for the string of burglaries, I was out of my head at the time, the drugs made me do it, but I’m trying to clean myself up now.

Judge: That’s very brave of you to face up to your issues. You know, prison doesn’t work anyway, so I’m going to give you another chance.

When judges stop treating a claimed drug addiction as a mitigation, then criminals will stop claiming it is. This isn’t to say that there aren’t criminals with drug habits which would benefit from treatment, but it should be a separate matter to the necessity to punish them for their crimes, and seek restitution for their victims. Contrary to what the judiciary may believe, crimes like robbery and burglary are very serious, not least because everyone has a right to defend themselves and their property even unto death.  How more serious could something be? The law should recognise this and treat such vile acts accordingly.  But what equivalence can be found between the act of house-breaking or putting a knife to someone’s ribs and demanding their money when compared to someone taking a pill or smoking a joint?

I’ll give you a choice of neighbours; one is in his parlour, smoking himself a rung up the ladder to serenity; the other is breaking down your kitchen door and plundering your possessions.  There’s not even a choice. The first, you don’t even know about it, except by perhaps a faraway smell.  The second, you will know about it. It will change your life, at least in the short time as you patch your place up, cancel everything, get the door fixed etc.  It may make you hate the place you live. You may be coming home for months to come, nervous of what you will find. A weak parry of this point could be; it’s probably the same neighbour! The guy smoking the drugs is most likely the same one who robs you. The answer is above; punish the real crime.

What, then of the second moral argument? Have I not admitted that drug abuse does indeed harm others, such as the family and friends of the abuser? Here, the key word is ‘harm’.  It does not at all mutilate the English language to say that a drug abuser harms his family, but when we are dealing with the law, we must be clear in our definitions.  There are degrees of harm.  If the ‘harm’ we are considering comprises a criminal act of violence or theft, or perhaps in the case of a drug-addled parent, one of child neglect, then we have the laws already written expressly to deal with such occurrences. But if we are talking only of the mental anguish that is inflicted on caring relatives, this alone, immoral though it is, is not enough to constitute a criminal offence.

This in no way belittles the reality of the suffering families of drug addicts, but drug abuse is just one on a list of things that if you do them it may cause your family anguish. We can add alcohol for a start, and gambling. We could add adultery and divorce. We could even add converting to another religion, or terrifying your mother by buying a motorbike. They can be dangerous too.

So, surely we all agree that there is a limit below which causing mental anguish ceases to be a matter for the law.  I say; let that be the limit already given, by the ordinary criminal laws against violence and theft.

All that aside, is Peter right about cannabis being so very dangerous? I certainly wouldn’t say it was harmless, but unlike heroin, cocaine and alcohol, you can’t take too much and die. Yes, you may fall off a balcony, but you’d have to eat your own body-weight to risk overdose.

The link to mental illness seems to be closely linked to a particular type of cannabis, high-strength grass, broadly called ‘skunk’.  It crops up in the politician’s cliché, about smoking once when they were a student, but they didn’t like it and they didn’t get stoned, but this new stuff the kids are smoking nowadays is something else entirely.  Indeed it is different, but if anyone claims you couldn’t get high in the ‘70s and ‘80s smoking Moroccan black , they’re lying.  The effects of cannabis, the same as with alcohol, depend on the dose.

Prohibition led to a higher consumption of stronger  alcohol over the weaker kind .  If you’re going to smuggle a barrel of beer, it might as well be whiskey. The same applies now to cannabis, and skunk is its ‘bathtub gin’, grown fast and harvested early. This is not a product marketed on its delicacy, but the power of its punch.  Due to the way it’s grown and cut, a certain chemical preponderates, which would not be the case if the plant was allowed longer to mature, and it is this chemical balance which I believe is most responsible for the negative effects on mental health observed in many people.  But who would buy ‘bathtub gin’ if a decent bottle from a distillery of repute was readily available instead? In a legal market, people would not be buying solely for concentration and quantity, but for quality.  On these grounds, the worst of the grass would disappear.

And one final thing must be said for cannabis; that there is no more versatile plant ever cultivated by man.  It can be used to make paper better than wood-pulp; textiles stronger than cotton; plastics, fuel, cooking oil; the seeds make high-protein food, and it has medicinal uses which have been practiced for centuries.  Furthermore, the plant is basically a weed, and will grow with very little assistance, needing far less fertiliser and pesticide than cotton, it counters soil erosion, and you can smoke it and get high.  I defy any God-fearing man, as Mr Hitchens is, to refute that this is a gift from our Creator. If that merely scalps the air, let him consider, drawing upon the naval tradition which runs in his blood , if I am not mistaken, how would this island’s navy had fared without its hempen ropes and sails (and a lash and bottle o’ rum)?For all these reasons, any law prohibiting such a plant is ridiculous, nonsensical, even blasphemous!

None of the above applies to crystal meth, for which we must fall back to earlier arguments.

  36 comments for “Drugs, Morality, The Law & Peter Hitchens

  1. Paul Marks
    Sep 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    There is a basic contradiction between Peter Hichens’ love of tradtional English Common Law (and British tradition generally – including the Scots tradition) and his support for drug prohibition.

    The prohition of drugs is an outgrowth of American “scientific” Progressivism – imposed by a “health elite” on the United Kingdom.

    This runs totally contrary to the Common Law nonaggression principle. Traditional conservatives (whether conservative Whigs like Edmund Burke, or tradtional Tory folk such as the anti cider tax people he allied with) do not see this “Health Fascist” or “Safety Nazi” function for the state – and yes Edmund Burke specifically includes rejecting drug prohibition in the tradtional position.

    The people who made up such later organisations as the league for the defernce of Liberty and Property , or the Personal Rights Association were not drug prohibitionists.

    Yet Peter Hitchens chooses to side with the Progressive “health” elite – AGAINST the traditionlal conservative position.


    I suspect that Mr Hitchens has confused being opposed to prohibtion with being “pro drugs” – he might be surprised to learn just how socialy conservative (in our lives and beliefs) many antiprohibtionists actually are.

    It does no good to confuse crimes and sins – to try and “legistlate morality” or advance morality and make people “just and good”.

    Gladstone (a Liberal but very much part of the conservative tradition of thought – conservative in the sense of supporting the British tradition) would hold that Mr Hitchens is fundementally mistaken.

    And so do I.

    • Richard Carey
      Sep 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Agreed. I’m surprised he hasn’t clocked that drug prohibition came about in the era that should make a conservative shudder at its very mention; ‘the progressive era’.

    • Tarquin
      Nov 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      If you put that point to Hitchens he would simply say such conservatives are either stupid or ‘evil’ – this is how he describes anyone who doesn’t fit his primary view that antiprohibitionists (or however he would term it) are acting out of self-interest

  2. mev
    Oct 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Pro-drugs supporters should ask themselves – do they want to sit in a pleasant pub near to a group of youths sticking needles into their arms and getting out of it, whilst they’re enjoying a nice civilised pint with their chums – becasue that’s where we’ll end up once drugs are legalised – it won’t be a chap sitting quietly in his own parlour.
    Secondly – do you want your children to have this as a respectable option as part of their social life – because a lot of their pals are trying it and it’s legal?
    No to both?
    Let’s stick to prohibition shall we?

    • Oct 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Mev. You make a couple of mistakes. First you assume that advocates for legalisation support the use of drugs. This is wrong. It is perfectly reasonable to support legalisation and condemn drug taking, as I do.

      Also the fact that you do not want to sit next to people sticking needles into themselves is fine and valid, but is the final reason why I think it won’t occur. If publicans see this problem, they will kick out the drug users.

      And remember, we are not punished for our sins but by them. Getting shit faced is bad for you, sticking needles into yourself in public is probably unhygienic. People in general are not stupid, at least not for very long, and will avoid health and other kinds of trouble for their own sakes.

      Now, consider the cost in blood and treasure of the “war of drugs”….

    • Paul Marks
      Oct 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      I believe in private property.

      Nor do I believe in late Roman Empire perversions such as “common carriers” and “public accomidations” legal doctrines.

      The owner of a pub should have a total right to ban any customer he does not like – for any reason. Including drug use.

      By the way I resent “pro drug” – I am NOT pro drugs (I am actually rather Puritan in my habits).

      I am not a prohibtionist, on both moral and practical grounds (it does not work – it is just a subsidy program for organised crime), that does not make me “pro drugs”.

    • Richard Carey
      Oct 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm


      “because that’s where we’ll end up once drugs are legalised”

      How so? Given that you, I expect, and me would both not wish to be enjoying a quiet pint next to a shooting gallery, and would take our custom elsewhere the rational expectation is that a landlord would not permit it to happen, unless he was happy to forfeit a large part of his custom, which other, stricter landlords would be happy to accommodate.

      “do you want your children to have this as a respectable option”

      You are paraphrasing the standard “ending prohibition would send the wrong message”.
      An absence of prohibition does not bestow respectability. Nor is the current prohibition the only reason not to take drugs. There are numerous things which are not now illegal which a parent should warn a child away from, and that concerned citizens, such as yourself perhaps, have a right, if not a duty, to denounce. I feel much the same way about socialism, for instance. What you do not have a right to do is impose by violence your morality on me and vice versa.

      And, as already noted, “pro-drug supporters” seems like an intentional ad hominem misrepresentation. To use the same example, I don’t think socialism should be prohibited, but I sure as hell am not a pro-socialism supporter.

  3. Richard Carey
    Oct 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    BTW drug use has halved in the ten years since decriminalisation in Portugal


  4. mev
    Nov 1, 2012 at 10:02 am

    no mistakes – pro-drugs can mean for others or for themselves – makes not much difference to me if you use yourself or if you’re just championing the legal use by others – for for drugs being legal, although you might not use them yourself, you’re happy for others to use them – including my kids.
    As for the publican kicking out the drug users – well that might be how it’s perceived now – but in 20 or 30 years – when you guys in the pro-drugs lobby have done your worst – and the publican now has a range of white powders and other substances alongside his optics – and it’s simply a matter of choice? It may well be so commonplace that very few publicans could afford not to offer all the pleasures that his various clients might wish to purchase. Be careful what you wish for – or rather what you wish for for others of course! I’m sure you and your children and your grandchildren will all be sensible enough to steer clear of this stuff won’t they? I’d rather it just remained illegal thanks all the same and you can content yourself with your intellectual theoretical position, whilst putting other people in peril.

    • Nov 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

      I would tend to avoid and ostracise those “others” that take drugs, and I am not going to waste my time on drug legalisation “for others”. If I work for legalisation then I will work for it for myself, because I want lower taxes and less crime. I would not put others at peril, but I would accept that others will put themselves at peril and be content I have voted in favour of reducing that peril.

      Your view, however, seems to be that war crime and poison are all good things. You seem genuinely to want war crime and poison and you do in fact want to force them upon my kids, who will have to pay for your folly in taxes. You want kids that do experiment with drugs (your kids? not mine) to have to risk being poisoned by black market dealers who are not subject to weights and measures legislation or open market competition. You want my kids to walk to school while gangs shoot it out over turf. You want to send soldiers to the jungles to engage in gun battles for your puritan beliefs and you want to lock people up for making choices you disagree with while sitting, frightened, at home but content that your religious theoretical position is being enacted on your behalf at the point of a gun.

      Not nice is it, being insulted? Now play nice and stop trolling.

    • Richard Carey
      Nov 1, 2012 at 11:22 am


      Have you got anything to say about the experience in Portugal, where decriminalisation has led to a massive drop in drug problems? It rather undermines your sneering remark about ‘intellectual theoretical positions’ as it’s an actual, empirical study. It is your position that puts people far more in peril, If I am pro-drugs, you are pro-drug gang.

      All the arguments for prohibiting drugs can be made and have been made for prohibiting alcohol, and yet you want to indulge a quiet pint What about your kids? I suppose you care nothing that they may become alcoholics or be killed by drink drivers? So, save the claims to the moral highground until you correct your own hypocrisy.

  5. mev
    Nov 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Oh yes that makes complete sense doesn’t it – that by legalising something its use will drop – just like drug use in Holland in coffee shops? Holland became known for it and its use was commonplace.
    So I point out quite reasonably (to most people you would have thought) that I do not want drugs to be legal because they would become commonplace, and possibly even respectable in the future, and that they would simply be another lifestyle choice to my children and grandchildren – thereby placing them in greater danger than they would be whilst these drugs are ‘out of bounds’ to respectable law-abiding people – and influenceable by their peer group “what’s wrong with them? they’re legal, come on have a go, they can’t be that bad if they’re legal” – so my perfectly reasonable objections that I don’t want this stuff to be commonplace and found in places I visit like my local pub nor easily available from the local co-op to my kids, makes me a sneering troll does it? Very nice. I’m actually a Libertarian economically and would vote for Libertarian candidates were they available but I do not agree with it in this instance, where I take a practical responsible caring view over a theoretical alligned one.

    • Richard Carey
      Nov 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Stop trying to claim credit for being practical and reasonable. Where’s your evidence that drug use will increase? Where’s your evidence that drug abuse with increase? Or that drug taking will be respectable? Or that in future all pubs will serve heroin? Or that peer pressure will be greater to take drugs?

      All these are your theories. Most of them are purely speculative. You claim to care and accuse us of not caring. This is just ad hominem. I believe your position is not only wrong in principle but a practical disaster, which causes a huge amount of suffering by empowering drug gangs, amongst other things.

    • Nov 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      re: trolling, the use of emotive examples, calling people “pro-drugs” as a statement of fact, claiming that we want to imperil people, and that we are uncaring. Those things are unwelcome and unnecessary and I feel if we left that out we could have a useful discussion here, e.g. about strategy on which you made an interesting point.

  6. mev
    Nov 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Has it occurred to you guys that this is the achilles heal of any Libertarian Party? Economically Libertarianism is completely correct, and the problems we have in the West is because we don’t have a strong Libertarian Party pointing out the economic fallacies of socialism etc on every day news programs – and why don’t we have a strong Libertarian Party? Because most normal, respectable, hardworking people are not going to vote for a party that advocates legalising drugs so that they become commonplace, acceptable and readily available for their children and children’s children as they grow up. You can argue the niceties of the intellectual position all you like – but most people are not going to put their X next to this. So is this view/policy on drugs really worth it? We can be as correct as we want on Economic policy – and goodness knows the people need to hear the Libertarian economic policy as much as possible because it is correct – but whilst the Libertarians saddle themselves with this minor issue vote loser, and Libertarian Party is destined to sit unheard on the sidelines – and all because of this one issue that you can’t get past. Perhaps we should have two Libertarian Parties – one that’s for drug legalisation and one that isn’t – and then we could see which one was more successful?

    • Richard Carey
      Nov 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      You’re complaining because we are taking a consistent position, rather than picking and choosing which bits of liberty we support and which we do not. For all the people like you, who grasp the economic part of liberty but don’t see how the same arguments apply with regard to individual liberty, there are probably far morewho grasp the latter and not the former. These people generally call themselves ‘liberal’ these days. Why would consistent libertarians choose to gang up with your group rather than the liberals? They are also more likely to be against war, which is a very important issue.

      The issue of drug prohibition being wrong is so obvious to a consistent libertarian. It’s not us who can’t get past it, it’s you, who has to keep throwing up the emotive mention of your children, to try to make the point. If you are a libertarian and you don’t want your children to take drugs, then you shouldn’t expect the government to guarantee this. And you haven’t dealt with the evidence from that link, or your own hypocrisy with regard to alcohol. You can’t deny alcohol can wreck lives, or gambling for that matter. Do you want these banned too, to protect your children?

    • Tarquin
      Nov 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Do you have evidence that this is a vote-loser? I’d say that our electoral system is the reason such a party doesn’t exist, virtually nobody’s vote matters in an election – I don’t see a strong anti-legalisation position in most people, but politicians terrified of a few loudmouth newspapers

      At least produce some polls and prove me wrong

  7. mev
    Nov 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Oh well you’ll have to forgive me for opposing the legalising of drugs on the ’emotive issue’ of wanting to protect my and other people kids – that’s just the way I am. You prefer to argue a consistent theoretical policy that a practical protective one. That’s fine – you’re never going to get elected or listened to beyond these pages.
    I have no wish to call myself a ‘Liberal’ at all for fear of being confused with Cleggs quasi socialists.
    Also – I’m quite happy to pay the government to help me protect my children and other peoples’ children from the temptation of drugs during their formative years – I have no problem with that, and I’m happy to pay my taxes towards it – and I’m happy to ‘expect’ it thanks all the same.

    Drugs are definitely in a different category from drinking alcohol and gambling based on the relative dangers – most people can enjoy a few pints and the odd bet on the horses when they visit a racecourse without it leading to their lives being ruined – but dabbling in drugs is a lot more risky right from the off.
    For this I will take the views of an old close University friend who spent his second year studying in America where he indulged freely in everything available like crack and heroin etc – when I asked him if he recommended me trying them he said “definintely” – when I asked if he would recommend them to his brother he was a little more hestitant but said he “could see no reason why not” – for his parents “well if they really wanted to” and finally would he recommend then to his (future) kids as well – “no effing chance! – they’re soo good they’re dangerous!” was his reply, and I took that as my litmus test on the issue.
    Drugs are not the same as a few beers and a bit of a flutter and I’ll take my mates word for it on that score.

    • Richard Carey
      Nov 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      “Oh well you’ll have to forgive me for opposing the legalising of drugs on the ‘emotive issue’ of wanting to protect my and other people kids – that’s just the way I am.”

      It’s difficult to argue with someone who hasn’t got an argument beyond ‘think of the children’.

      “You prefer to argue a consistent theoretical policy that a practical protective one.”

      There is nothing practical or protective about your inconsistent position.

      ” you’re never going to get elected or listened to beyond these pages.”

      That’s as may be, but it won’t be because of the drug issue, as the vast majority who support libertarian economic positions, agree on the drug issue,(including Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman) and I expect far more people agree on the drug issue than on the economics, so if I wanted to get elected, I’d be better off dumping economic liberalism than social liberalism.

      “I have no wish to call myself a ‘Liberal’ at all for fear of being confused with Cleggs quasi socialists..”

      I’d rather have Clegg’s “quasi-socialism” than yours. BTW, you may wish to visit the Libertarian Party of the UK, (LPUK). Your opinion seems to be similar to theirs,

      “Drugs are definitely in a different category from drinking alcohol and gambling based on the relative dangers”

      Any evidence, or rational argument to back this up? No, thought not.

      As for your friend, how on earth could he have taken drugs in America? They’re illegal over there too, It’s almost like prohibition hasn’t worked!

      • Nov 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

        Richard, Mevlin may be your worst enemy, but that is no reason to wish that on him.

  8. mev
    Nov 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    thanks for the addres of the official Libertarian Party – I shall indeed take a peek over there and hope to find it more welcoming than this site.
    Let’s just ahve a recap shall we – I stumbled in here from a link someone posted on the Peter Hitchens site – and being an economic Libertarian myself (with the exception of the relatively minor (to me) issue of drugs) thought I’d find a decent place for a chat – but oh no – no sooner had I dared to oppose the legalisation of drugs for the simple reason that I wish to protect mine and other peoples’ kids and I don’t want drugs to become commonplace in society – I’m given fairly short shrift by a couple of local spokespeople (whom I’ve never heard of – and likewise I’m sure of course) who then accuse me of being a ‘troll’ and of ‘sneering’. You guys need to listen to yourselves – ‘how to win friends and influence people’ – NOT.

    So perfectly valid points of view about wishing to protect influenceable teenagers and the younger generation (i.e. our children – oh let me guess, you’ve not had any kids yet right?) are dismissed as ’emotive’ – but of course you’re more interested in holding what you think of as a ‘consistent’ theoretical policy, over an ’emotive’ one that might actually save a lot of people from trying drugs and ruining their lives.

    Then we have charges of ‘hypocrisy’ – why? – because I’m in favour of alcohol and not drugs – that’s not hypocrisy gents – hypocrisy would be me saying I did not want to see drugs legalised whilst using them myself.
    I see alcohol and drugs as two completely different items and issues due to the relative strength and danger of the two – although that’s admittedly without having tried class A drugs due to my friends ‘recommendation’ to take them.
    Your oh so important definition of ‘consistency’ could lead to learner drivers being able to drive on motorways so that they were consistent with other drivers – or how about cyclists? they’re also peopletrying to travel from place A to place B – so why can’t they use the motorway? And what about kiddies on tricycles – perhaps they should be able to use motorways too – we wouldn’t want any ‘inconsistencies’ would we in our transport policy!
    Hard Drugs and alcohol are quite patently not the same – so we do not need the same policy for both.
    Here’s a quick question for you to test your precious ‘consistency’ and lack of hypocrisy – your 19 year old daughter arrives home one day and tells you she’s going to her works ‘outing’ at the weekend which is at the local racecourse and she intends to bet 10 pounds on each race (so lets say 60 pounds) – she also intends to have quite a few glasses of wine over the course of the afternoon and evening (you’re picking her up at 11pm) so is taking 60 pounds for drink as these posh places are quite pricey – oh and finally she tells you that her friends are going to bring some crack along as well which she’s looking forward to trying – should make the party go with a bang – and she’s put aside 60 pounds for that as well.

    How concerned are you about the gambling – the drinking and the crack consuming? Let’s be honest now – no hypocrisy please – I’m assuming your equally concerned about all three right, in equal measure?

    No thought not. I rest my case.

    (ps saying you prefer Cleggs socialism to mine is ridiculous – I’m a free-marketeer economically and despise socialism, but hey I guess silly insults is the name of the game on this two bob website – though at least Simon Gibbs did make an effort to discuss the points raised).

    Enjoy your debates guys – I’m sure there’s lots of druggies out there who are quite appreciative of your efforts on their behalf.

    • Andrew
      Nov 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      “I’m a free-marketeer”

      Unless the market is for something you disapprove of.

      • mev
        Nov 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

        no – just drugs – I can and do disapprove of lots of things but would not want to ban them – hard and very harmful drugs are a special case where I’m happy to support a ban.
        I suppose you’d be happy for your kids to do cocain heroin and crack etc would you? – or are these freedoms you’re fighting for just for the benefit of others who want to fry their brains and ruin their lives? – not you or your kith n kin?

        Just who are the hypocrits here?

        • Andrew
          Nov 2, 2012 at 7:46 pm

          “I suppose you’d be happy for your kids to do cocain heroin and crack etc would you?”

          Lots of things I wouldn’t be happy for my kids to do, including drinking, smoking, prostitution, and entering politics, but I’m not willing to use violence to stop them.

          “Just who are the hypocrits here?”

          Just you.

    • Nov 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Just before you go – and so you don’t get the wrong impression – many of us think drugs are fantastic and enjoy them immensely. The illegal ones are always best. I recommend ecstasy in particular for schoolkids*: it helps them to cope with the misery of state education. You should take some too, they are mind-expanding.

      *Outrageous, but forcing them to take Ritalin is AOK, say doctors.

      • mev
        Nov 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

        yep – great reply – adds a lot that does – semi serious semi ridiculous

        at first I respected the honesty and lack of hypocrisy but then the schoolkid comment made me think it was all tongue in cheek sarcastic – so do you want your kids to drugs or not? honestly

        • Nov 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

          If they never took any illegal drugs I would think they were braindead. I mean it.

          “Ecstasy for schoolkids” was designed to raise a smile, but I really do think people should take drugs at some time or other. I took them in school; I don’t regret it.

    • JW
      Nov 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      If your objection is that hard drugs are more dangerous than ‘the odd pint’ (I notice you entirely ignore the alcoholics drinking a bottle of whisky a day before going home to beat up their wives), then you presumably wouldn’t object to the legalisation of cannabis, ecstasy and various other drugs which are demonstrably less harmful than alcohol, even given the tendency of prohibition to exacerbate their dangers. I dare say heroin would fall in this category were it not sold by street dealers and injected intravenously using dirty needles (just one delightful consequence of our drug policy, and one reason why you’d be unlikely to see junkies shooting up in your local pub).

    • Richard Carey
      Nov 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm


      cut the passive-aggressive act, it’s not working. Also your use of the term ‘official Libertarian Party’ seems to confirm my suspicions that you are a sock puppet.

      • mev
        Nov 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        I’ve no idea what you’re on about here

        I came in with what I thought were two quite reasonable objections to your policy and was met with low level abuse for even daring to object to your policy on drugs – perhaps just a civilised discussion of why you took an opposing view might have been warranted whilst respecting the fact that others may take a more conservative view than yours

        ps whilst I’m being called a hypocrit – can you please just clarify for me whether you are happy to 1. take drugs yourself and 2. for your (future) children to take them? It is an important point.

        • Richard Carey
          Nov 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm


          “your policy on drugs”

          I don’t have a “policy” on drugs, I have an opinion.

          • Nov 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

            It’s almost as though he thinks you represent a party. Peter Hitchens must’ve told him. I wonder why he wants to know if you ever break the law? 🙂

  9. Nov 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Mevlin, there have been times in the past, not here fortunately but nearby, when people have taken on pseudonyms in order to make trouble, it sometimes works. Richard is just poking you gently on the chin to make sure you aren’t wearing a rubber mask. Sounds ridiculous, and it is, but that doesn’t stop people doing it despite the fact that it’s clearly against the rules and norms of online society.

    Like socket puppeting, drugs can and will be taken and abused regardless of whether they are legal or if they are acceptable culturally or not. You simply don’t get what you want by banning them, so there are two other questions that you need to consider:

    Should the act of smoking a plant (to borrow from Laurence Vance) be met with violence? Should we force people into cages if they do that? I agree with Laurence Vance that there can be no moral standard on which we can legitimately claim that locking people in a cage for that reason is okay. More broadly, there is not any excuse for pushing our ideas onto others and using aggression to do that.

    Before I address the second question I can confirm I haven’t (yet) had kids. Now what are the consequences for my potential future kids, my wonderful neices, and your children, if drugs remain illegal? I’m persuaded that the consequences are far worse. There is such a thing as a war on drugs. DEA agents roam Honduras and Thailand with guns, and people die. The war is crippling parts of Latin America, Mexico and the USA the problems there mean the global economy is held back. There is additional crime here which your children will have to live with, stronger more addictive drugs mean more burgulary, the effective subsidy to criminal gangs means violent turf wars. Drugs are made stronger due to the different incentives underworld dealers face, and they are often cut with nasty stuff and made to be poisonous, or made accidentally more pure and become poisonous.

    II agree cocaine in particular is somewhat more serious that alcohol (though not all alcohol, I’d speculate) and I can see you want your kids to be protected from drugs by supporting the ban on drugs. Despite the war it hasn’t worked, drugs are still available. If you, or I, or any parent, fail to educate their children that their interests are not served by drug taking and they choose to experiment with them, what happens? Exactly becuase of the global war on drugs your children are going to be in more danger not less. They will buy from criminals with no recourse to the courts, and they will risk buying poison. Those are the consequences of the imorral effort to force morals onto others.

  10. Richard Carey
    Nov 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    @ Right Wing Hippy,

    “It’s almost as though he thinks you represent a party. Peter Hitchens must’ve told him. I wonder why he wants to know if you ever break the law? ”

    I don’t know what he thinks or whether he is mistaken, but I don’t think Mr Hitchens (for whom, you will note in the first paragraph above, I have a good deal of time) is responsible.

    I am, as it happens, a member of Pro Liberty, which is a newly-registered party, but I do not set policy, and the above is my opinion, no more, no less.

    This website, as a regular reader will have noticed, is non-partisan, as is the meeting held every month in Southwark on the first Thursday, the most recent therefore being last night, is also non-partisan. In recent times, people from UKIP, the Independent Libertarians, the YPP and also myself and James Rigby of Pro Liberty have spoken at that meeting, and anyone’s welcome. Also on this website, there has been a similar diversity.

    This is just a point of general clarification, rather than a lecture aimed at you, RWH 🙂

    • Nov 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      While we’re on clarity, I don’t think “Peter Hitchens must’ve told him.” either. I assumed mev knew who he was talking to.

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