The War on Logic

Prof David Nutt, Mexican novelist Álvaro Enrigue, Colombian Ambassador Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera, and Times columnist David Aaronovitch on-stage at Hay on Wye on Saturday, June 2, 2012

We talk and we talk and we talk, and we are ignored.

The “War on Drugs” is a failure: practically every expert agrees about that. Even the police say it.

On Saturday night some quite eminent people said it at the Hay Festival.

I was in the audience to listen to Prof David Nutt, Colombian Ambassador Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera, the Mexican novelist Álvaro Enrigue, and Times columnist David Aaronovitch on the subject.

They all said that they would prefer people not to take drugs, but that wasn’t their point.

Dr Nutt, who was fired as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after he clashed with government ministers over issues of drug harm and classification, said that alcohol kills more people under 40 than anything else.

So where is the War on Alcohol?

Nowhere, is the answer – because the drinks lobby is too powerful.

The Colombian Ambassador was on the panel because his President is a rare politician who has called for a rethink on the “War on Drugs” (a term first used by President Richard Nixon in 1971).

Here’s what Múnera said on Saturday: “In our opinion the War on Drugs has failed.

“Although Colombia has made progress the problem is moving to other countries in Latin America and West Africa.

“As long as there is demand for drugs, there will be supply.

“And as long as drugs are illegal there will be violence.

“Colombia does not want any other nations to suffer the tragedy we have suffered.

“Hundreds of thousands of lives of innocent Latin Americans have been lost and billions of dollars have been wasted that should have been spent on health and education.”

And listen to the words of Enrigue, the Mexican novelist: “After 50,000 dead people in the streets of Mexico [since 2006], one begins to think about legalisation.”

The mass trespass of Kinder Scout by ramblers in 1932 was what won us our network of public rights of way.

Perhaps that’s what it will take to stop this ridiculous War on Drugs which is costing billions and wasting thousands of lives.

What would you call it? A mass float? The Big Chill? If the law is made to look enough of an ass then even the politicians would have to pay attention.


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