Jul 14 2011 by Katy Gordon, Blairgowrie Adv
DEAR Editor, – Inspector Fitzpatrick betrays a bizarre puritanical attitude common to many law enforcers when he says that the people who were producing cannabis at the raided Rattray address 'bring nothing but misery to our communities' (my emphasis).
This is clearly false.
If they did not bring enjoyment to those who enjoy cannabis, no one would be buying their product, and they would not be producing it in the first place.
Imagine if the inspector were a teetotaler, who claimed alcohol brought nothing but misery, and that those who think they enjoy alcohol are wrong.
Who would be able to take such a claim seriously?
Yes, cannabis is not entirely safe, but as any neuroscientist or pharmacologist will tell you, of the two drugs, alcohol is widely recognised as the more dangerous, in terms of health harms to the individual user.
Why then do we recognise the rights of adults to enjoy a drink, while regulating the trade to keep it out of the hands of children and attempt to mitigate the harms caused by a minority of irresponsible drinkers, yet drive the cannabis trade underground, into the hands of those least likely to regulate the trade responsibly, and making criminals out of those adults who happen to prefer cannabis to alcohol and pose no greater threat to themselves or the public in doing so?
I recognise that the police are professionally obliged to uphold unjust laws as well as just ones, but I am baffled by the lack of critical analysis.
Almost all of the 'misery' the inspector speaks of stems from the fact that our government has handed the entirety of the cannabis trade to organised crime, and I think even he would admit that this raid is not likely to have made more than a marginal temporary blip in the long-term availability of cannabis.
I have never heard any logical argument for why people involved in the cannabis trade deserve to be criminalised while those in the alcohol trade do not. Some former police officers alive today will remember a time when they were required to enforce criminal laws against male, but not female homosexuals.
Today's alcohol/cannabis distinction is no less cruel and irrational. It is always ethically questionable to criminalise consenting adults for their non-violent private behaviour.
To do so on such an arbitrary basis is inexcusable.
David Hart, Treasurer, Dundee University Students for Sensible Drug Policy,
Received via email.