Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

The Myth Peddlars – the war on drugs has failed


Though the US government had been fighting against the use of drugs for almost a century, the present “war on drugs” can be dated back to 1973 when President Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)  to announce “an all-out global war on the drug menace.” Since his announcement drug crime and drug consumption have spiralled.

Back in the 1960’s the odd night on the puff would result in little worse than waking up to an LP stuck in a groove. One bright spark went as far as to remark: “The biggest danger from smoking drugs is getting arrested.” Even then, though smoking cannabis had been illegal in Britain since 1928, the chances of the occasional toker getting caught were very slim. And then the war on drugs came along.

Despite the fact heavy drinking has alway created far more problems for society than smoking hashish or weed, drinking alcohol has been legal in the UK since time immemorial. The picture has been much the same in most of the US, apart from being completely banned from 1920 to 1933 during the brief period known as the prohibition. As the thirteen-year-war against alcohol did little more than trigger a spectacular rise in the activities of the mafia, leading to prohibition being deemed a failure in 1933, one might have thought the lesson had been learned, but no. Yet, oddly enough, consumption of marijuana didn’t become illegal in all states of the union until the 1940s.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in the UK, the sale and consumption of alcohol went on without interruption. Though licences restricting premises where alcohol could be produced, sold, or consumed in public, and at what hours, were introduced as long ago as the 19th century, the sale of alcohol was never prohibited. In fact, as a result of lobbying from brewers and distillers, laws controlling the sale of alcohol have been relaxed considerably in Britain over the last few decades, whereas exactly the opposite has been the case with drugs. Though many drugs have been prohibited or controlled since the early 20th century in Britain, the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act put an end to the more enlightened approaches to the control and supply of hard drugs gaining hold the 1960s. Yet since the wars on drugs was declared, use of all illegal drugs and crimes associated with drug use have rocketed, as they have throughout the rest of the world.

Back in the 1960s smoking dope was basically a minority pursuit, which didn’t take take up much police time, whereas crimes committed under the influence of drink were a daily occurrence. Over the last forty years big changes have taken place.

Since the war on drugs was announced the massive increase in numbers people using drugs for recreational purposes has risen to the point where the balance of public perception towards the damage caused by softer drugs has tipped in favour of legalisation. People have begun to realise the police spend a disproportionate amount of time pursuing smokers of cannabis for the virtually non-existent damage they inflict on society as a whole in comparison to that caused by heavy drinkers. Many police chiefs have also spoke out in favour of decriminalisation, at the very least. But most governments will not be swayed.

Nevertheless, even though the chances of a getting caught with a crumb of hash were far fewer in the 1960s, those convicted of possession could  lose their jobs and be pilloried by society. They could even end up behind bars with prison records to contend with upon release. Even for possession of just one joint. Not too much has changed in that respect.

Sad though it may seem, despite general society’s attitude towards the recreational use of drugs softening considerably, government attitudes have changed little in the intervening decades. The fact is, though toking a spliff in Brighton or Aberdeen is unlikely to pose much more health risk than countless other things people do in their spare time, being caught at it can still ruin your prospects for the rest of your life.

Even worse in Mexico, where the region known as Tierra Caliente (hot land) has almost become an independent drug state. Whether you take drugs or not in Mexico, it isn’t your future job prospects you have to worry about, but the very real risk of losing your life to the rampant crime that has flourished in the wake of the war on drugs. Since it began hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives throughout the world because of the US playing power politics. There has been a massive explosion in the very crimes the war was supposed to stop.

So what would bring a stop the huge international crime wave that has sprung up as a result of most governments’ attitudes towards the consumption and sale of drugs? Are there viable alternatives to the present global ruins that are a direct consequence of the US led world war on drugs?

Present drug legislation is based on a complex web of lies, corruption, misinformation, disinformation and myths. It has led to a string of failures that threaten democracy on local, national and international levels. Failures that have benefited most the ones they were designed to stop. These days, from the smallest of hamlets of Merry England to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, whether we consume drugs or not, we can all fall victim to the war on drugs to a greater or lesser extent.

Drugs and the Financial Crisis

In a parallel, but interestingly related theme, we keep on hearing there is only one solution the never-ending financial crisis. Austerity for you and a massive bonus for me. Bankers on a fat salaries, or men in black suits from the IMF, stare out of the telly feigning empathy. How come it’s always slimeballs on fat salaries telling poor people to tighten their belts?

But there is another solution. A solution that takes guts. The legalisation of drugs.

The sign of a great leader is the ability to admit mistakes. Without such admissions the same mistakes are destined to repeat themselves. Not only could radical changes to the drug laws help fire up the world economy, they could fill government coffers with massive revenues from previously untapped sources. They would help tackle the terrorism Hillary Clinton keeps rattling on about, and stop much of the illegal trafficking in weapons, women and children. Changes in the law would reduce petty crime dramatically, create new businesses and increase employment. Even better, unlike the failed present solution, these obvious benefits wouldn’t come from waving the magic wand of colossal – and totally ineffective – financial bailouts. Quite the opposite, they would be self-financing through the vast business opportunitites they created. A market report in the US estimates trade in cannabis, where legislation has been relaxed, and associated businesses, will reach  $13.4 billion by 2020, creating thousands of new jobs. Now, the fastest growing business sector in the United States, annual trade figures are already in excess of  $3.6 billion.

Who really benefits from Drug Prohibition?

As things stand the main beneficiaries of drug prohibition are highly dangerous criminals. Though impossible to verify, the global trade in illegal drugs is estimated to generate a hefty $400 billion of untaxed income annually. If the black hole of toxic assets is anything to go by, that has to be on the extremely conservative side. A large proportion of that income is used to finance other forms of crime including prostitution, money-laundering, corruption, pornography, arms smuggling, terrorism and paedophilia. Drug barons raise private armies, buy ships, planes, and even submarines, to help ply their trade. Meanwhile, the cost of the war on drugs to the state is crippling, as can be seen on the Drug War Clock, which just ticks away the amount spent in fighting a losing war against drugs in the US alone.

Money Laundering

Himalayan ranges of cash create their own problem, especially when so many of them are composed of small bills. Drug cartels have so much of the stuff they hardly know what to do with it. There are only so many diamond-studded Mercedes, faux French chateaux, private jets, luxury yachts and Rolex watches a tasteless thug can own. Even with banks as corrupt as they are, slamming suitcases of used notes onto their counters is not as easy as it was in the good old days of no questions asked. Large deposits of dirty notes sometimes get reported to the authorities these days. But not always, or not often enough. Up until very recently, banks like Warren Buffet’s Wells Fargo were only too happy to allow Mexican drug cartels to funnel suspiciously large sums through their subsidiary, Wachovia. Then somebody blew the whistle.

They were almost certainly not alone. HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghi Banking Corporation) headquartered in London, laundered up to a staggering fifteen billion dollars of filthy cash from Mexican drug cartels and Russian mafias between 2006 and 2009. David Bagley global head of compliance – whatever that means –saw fit to remark the bank had “fallen short of our own and regulators’ expectations”. The words fall incredibly short of an apology for all the misery and deaths $15bn worth of criminal proceeds will have caused the world. Perhaps he doesn’t see himself responsible for the consequences of his own actions. He ought to be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. It’s the only way to stop these people. This is not a flash in the pan.  It has become so common, as to be seen the norm, a valid part of global banks’ strategy and business policy. In other words a culture of mind-boggling global corruption on a scale never seen before has become day-to-day in high finance. The damage done cannot be underestimated by governments and legal agencies, as seems to be happening. They have a duty to act, to be seen to be acting, and to act now. But this has been going on for years. Here’s a link to an article by Stephen Bender, which appeared in ZCommuncations as long ago as March 2001 American Banks and the War on Drugs

And while I’m pointing the finger, another arrest that should be swiftly made is that of  the chief executive and HSBC chairman at the time of the scandal, none other than Britain’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green. An ordained priest in the Church of England, now known as the invisible minister because of his low profile since the scandal erupted, Green became executive of HSBC in 2003 and went on to become its chairman. The illustrious lord once said: “The (banking) industry has done many things wrong. It is important to remember that many ordinary bankers have always sought to provide good service to their customers; but we must also recognise that there have been too many who have profoundly damaged the industry’s reputation.” Too right, squire. If the man in charge won’t accept responsibilty, who will?

Outside the mainstream media, many journalists have become enraged at the lax treatment of HBSC and the high-level decisions made not prosecute in the US and Britain. Here are links to more articles:  Fraud, Money Laundering and Narcotics. Impunity of the Banking Giants. No Prosecution of HSBC from Global Research

Rowans-blog by Rowan Bosworth-Davies, a former financial crimes specialist with London’s Metropolitan Police, is particularly interesting: Beware the snake-oil salesmen saying that banks cannot be prosecuted! having been written by an expert in the field. 

Rolling Stone‘s Mark Tabibi wrote: Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a JokeThe World Socialist Web Site wrote: Above the law

As long as it’s around, and the governments fail miserably to tackle it, there will always be ways of investing dodgy cash in the global economy by the back door. Virtually untraceable, casino gambling is an excellent method. Las Vegas and Macao are a couple of the favourite destinations for those with oodles of mucky money. Who questions suspiciously frequent ‘lucky’ winners? But throwing dice can still be dodgy, especially if you get carried away. One day it’s champagne and roses, the next like shovelling money down the toilet. Unless you own a casino, of course, which many low-lifes do. But there’s so much dirty money washing round there’s always need for another scam.

Though you wouldn’t think it by the way so-called ‘respectable’ billionaires and ‘honourable’ politicians use offshore banks in fiscal paradises to avoid tax, money-laundering is a very serious crime. A huge part of  the proceeds from narco-trafficking is laundered through those very same banks. Not only that, it is a very serious crime that creates even more very serious crime.

Dirty money is also ‘cleaned’ through unorthodox property deals involving corruption, shady investments in art and antiques, to slipping fat brown envelopes under tables to politicians, judges and police chiefs. Service industries and other businesses handling large amounts of cash on a daily basis are particularly attractive. Dirty money is used to start up hotels, restaurants, clubs, and pizza chains. One time, the Zetas in Mexico, bought an entire horse racing outfit with dirty money. The lengths these criminals and their powerful friends are prepared to go to are sometimes scarcely believable.

The negative effects of the drug economy on the real economy

The negative effects of drug profits on the real economy are vast. Injecting huge amounts of untraceable paper money into labyrinthine business deals distorts the real economy. Often those businesses couldn’t exist without what amounts to hidden subsidies. They operate in direct competition with businesses that have no such advantage. Bona fide businesses have to pay bills and staff out of what goes through the till, not what comes out of the mattress. Bad enough in normal times, in the midst of a financial crisis such clandestine deals can prove a deathblow to otherwise healthy enterprises. Last year Forbes magazine published an article detailing some of the aspects.

Drug barons aren’t primarily interested in profiting from their investments immediately; they can wait. Their main purpose is to disguise the primary source of their tainted income. A climate facilitating violent criminals to make such investments is madness itself. They have the greatest vested interest in drug laws remaining as they are. They don’t obey the law; they’re drug barons, for chrissakes! The only way to stop them is economically, to smash the supply lines by creating a regulated market.

Richard Branson on the war on drugs 

The real costs of the war on drugs

The global war against drugs has been long and costly. So far, all the successes have been on the other side. According to a report compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime worldwide, 486,000 lives were lost in drug-related violence during 2010 alone. If it is to be judged on results, it has been as miserable a failure as the global war on terrorism. Like terrorism, the drug menace is spreading throughout the world at an alarming rate and is a direct result of the draconian measures taken to stop it. The two are often closely connected.

Drug states

Ignoring the scale of the defeat has left Mexico on the verge of being officially designated a failed state. The violence is spilling across the border into the US. Some US Government agencies are calling it the biggest threat to democracy the country faces. In the East, even after more than a decade of war, Afghanistan still remains the world’s largest producer and exporter of opium. Much of it goes to the US, as the country is the world’s biggest consumer of illegal drugs.

Drug wars are claiming far more victims than drugs themselves. In 2010 over ten thousand Mexicans lost their lives in what can only be described as warlords battling for turf. Torture, decapitation and murder are commonplace. Uncorrupted police chiefs, mayors and judges are being slaughtered on an unprecedented scale, or terrified into flight across the border into the US.  Journalists are being targeted in an attempt to stifle the press. The winners of this war are always the drug barons. By the end of President Felipe Calderon’s presidency on December 1st 2012 more than 100,000 men, women and children had been killed as a result of his much-publicised, army-led crackdown against drug gangs at the end of 2006. The reality is he made things far worse.

But Mexico isn’t the only country where unsustainable numbers of police agents, army officers, court officers, and government officials at local and national level are now in the pay of drug lords. Nigeria, Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan, and now Argentina, all have cities and regions where governments have lost control. Other countries like Kenya fear for the future. In effect, these regions have become mini narco-states. The numbers are growing. Without all the fuss and bother of elections, drug dealers are taking over. Things got bad enough in one large European metropolis for the army to be called out onto the streets in 2008. Naples is probably the worse, rather than an isolated, example of what could lie in store for the rest of us.

And if that wasn’t enough US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will back Kosovo, part of former Yugoslavia, in its bid to join NATO and the EU. Albania and Kosovo are recognised as two of the biggest transit points for heroin trafficking in the world. The war on drugs takes very bizarre turns indeeed.

On a local level, burglaries, assaults, street robberies, shoplifting, prostitution and protection rackets, are largely conducted by those controlling the drug trade, or drug addicts looking for cash to fuel their habits. They keep the fences of stolen goods in business. Gang warfare and most gun crime in the UK have a drug background. In public, and in private, many police chiefs admit the war against drugs is unwinnable. The drug laws are unenforceable. Police time is being wasted and courts are being swamped unnecessarily.

Valuable resources being wasted in tackling so-called ‘global terrorism’ while drug barons strut the boulevards of Mumbai, Marbella and Miami virtually unmolested. Millions of pounds and countless man-hours are being squandered gathering intelligence on petty drug dealers instead of being invested in supervising distribution of heroin and cocaine to problem users, along with rehabilitation schemes where requested and needed.

Drugs and Society

Drug users are no longer on the fringes of society; they form part of its very fabric. A drug user is just as likely to be a teacher, stockbroker or MP, as a homeless squatter living on social security. A sizeable proportion of the population, particularly the young, is being criminalised and alienated by the present lack of joined-up thinking. Essentially honest citizens are being saddled with unjustifiable criminal records and serving prison sentences. Not only does this damage their opportunities later in life; it can lead them into pursuing lives of crime for lack of other options.

Governments’ fears and predictions of what might occur to society, were drugs legalised, are unfounded, and amount to pathological paranoia. Ironically, they bear an uncanny resemblance to what is actually happening while drugs remain illegal. Eradication of drugs having failed so dismally, it is time to look at alternatives. We must stop treating drugs and their clients as the problem, and turn our attention to the organised criminal activity that is a direct result of the proscription of them. There are ways of solving problems other than all-out war.

Drugs and Alcohol

Like any commodity that has a market, drugs should be regarded as an economic issue, not a moral one. The current arguments against drugs cannot be based on the unsustainable premise that all are bad for you while one drug is sold freely in supermarkets, corner shops and restaurants.

The idea that alcohol is somehow better than other drugs is blatantly hypocritical and doesn’t stand up to examination. Where’s the proof? Different drugs pose different risks and dangers, but those risks and dangers aren’t necessarily greater than those of alcohol. If we compare the social damage caused by other drugs to the social damage caused by alcohol, from a disinterested perspective, a different picture emerges.

To assess the problem properly we need to take away the hysterics and look at the pros and cons as we do with other sectors of the economy. The wider potential gains to society have to be weighed properly against the potential harm drugs cause.

Of course there are adverse effects to taking drugs, as there are with alcohol. There are adverse effects to driving. The numbers of deaths directly caused by the ingestion of drugs pales into insignificance against the numbers of deaths and injuries caused on the roads by driving. Not only that, whereas death on the roads involves a high percentage of people who aren’t driving, nearly all drug-related deaths occur at the hands of the person knowingly taking those drugs. Those that aren’t, fit into the category of murder, or unlawful killing, the same way as driving a car at someone with the deliberate intent of causing death does. Most drivers don’t set out to cause injury or death; neither do most drug users. The reason we accept the death rate caused by traffic is because society considers the benefits of driving outweigh the risks.

Many of the benefits from driving are economic. They come in the form of tax revenues, manufacturing, distribution and service jobs. Others include the ability to commute freely and pursue recreational activities. But few governments bother to put the immense cost of global warming into the equation, nor the strain on emergency services, the energy crisis, pollution and the negative effects on health motor vehicles cause. If we apply the same criteria to cars as we apply to drugs ie: the threats they pose to the health and security of the nation, driving would be banned tomorrow.

As far as violence against the person is concerned, alcohol presents a far greater danger to society than cannabis. Incidents of violence, crime, preventable physical and mental diseases, and days lost at work, are increased dramatically through misuse of alcohol. Excessive drinking over long periods of time has led to domestic violence, child abuse and the break-up of families.

By ignoring the social and economic benefits of drug deregulation while tolerating the problems caused by alcohol, not only are our politicians effectively putting drug policy in the hands of the drug barons, but they are also putting the health, safety and lives of citizens at risk. Present legislation gives the impression drinking alcohol is safer than taking drugs. When all factors are taken into consideration that is nowhere near a clear-cut case.

The Strength of Drugs

Recent reports have suggested – to the hypocritical relief of many reformed hippy parents and probably compiled by them – today’s varieties of cannabis are far stronger than in the days of flower power. Well, whisky has always been a lot stronger than beer, so sensible drinkers don’t drink it by the pint.

Without regulation and proper control, consumers are often unaware of the strength of the drugs they consume, which accounts for a large proportion of deaths from overdose of heroin. The drug is often ‘cut’ and unwittingly (or even deliberately) contaminated with poisons in the process, to increase profits.  The same applies to ecstasy; yet, despite press hysteria, recorded deaths attributed to overdosing on ecstasy are nowhere near deaths attributed to alcohol.

Intelligent legislation would ensure drug products were not only free from dangerous additives, but that the strength was indicated in the same way as alcohol. Like tobacco, health warnings would be prominently displayed.

In some reports on the dangers of cannabis unwarranted emphasis has been placed on the fact consumption can trigger schizophrenia and cause psychotic behaviour. But schizophrenia can be triggered by a variety of drugs (including prescribed drugs) and other conditions, such as stress. The answer is for schizophrenics to be advised of the dangers. The notion most schizophrenics can never make rational choices is as patronising, as it is false. It presupposes alcoholics are making a rational choice in drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol is well-known for producing psychotic behaviour when drunk irresponsibly, yet nobody suggests alcoholics should not be given that choice, or is seeking to ban it for that reason. If it’s a question of the worst evil, then the worst evil is prohibition.


Use of marijuana and cannabis had become fairly common in Eastern US cities by the 1880s. As with opium, hashish was smoked in special dens operating openly without fear of prosecution. New York is estimated to have had around five hundred.

The first attempts to restrict the sale and consumption of marijuana in the US began in the 1860s. By the 1940s it was banned in all states. Strangely enough the decision to ban the drug was not made exclusively on health grounds, there were strong commercial reasons for the prohibition, as vast sums of money were at stake.

The incredibly wealthy and powerful newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst, feared cheap paper made from hemp instead of wood pulp would damage his extensive timber holdings. He began a disinformation campaign against cannabis, using his nationwide newpaper empire to link consumption of the drug with violent crime. Added to that, the Dupont family and Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury at the time, and richest man in America, believed cheap hemp used in the production of textiles would adversely affect the production of nylon, the synthetic textile they had invested so heavily in, and with which they planned to swamp the market. Competition from other cheap textiles could have put a halt to their plans. The men enlisted the services of Harry J Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to mount a huge propaganda campaign against marijuana. The campaign stooped to the racial stereotyping of blacks and Mexicans, leading to further hate crimes to be perpetrated against them. Anslinger also contributed to the production of a raft of scare films being against marijuana. Ironically, the films experienced a revival among the hippie generation of 1960s, but not for the reasons intended.

Prohibition laws against the production and vending of alcohol were first introduced to the US in 1919. They were revoked in 1933, four years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. They didn’t prevent drinking, but they did make it easy for the US Mafia to become the most powerful criminal organisation the world had ever seen.

When prohibition of alcohol ended, the Mafia didn’t disband, they moved into the lucrative drugs, extortion, and protection rackets. Other international criminal organisations such as the Chinese Triads, the Russian Mafiya, the Yardies, the Comorra, the Medellin and Cali Cartels have taken up the baton.

As things stand, some of them pose a serious threat to democracy. Drug consumption is rising and will rise even further as the financial crisis really bites. People drink more and take more drugs in times of stress. As people feel the pinch more will turn to drug dealing as a means of income. It’s not a theory, it’s happened and is happening.

The high moral ground assumed by a majority of governments is akin to having a Temperance Society formulate drink laws. In leaving the distribution of drugs in the hands of drug barons we have turned the running of the asylum over to the inmates. The term ‘controlled substances’ is risible. They are completely out of real control and that is the problem.

Legal Drugs

If only government policies were consistent. A the moment we have The European Medicines Agency responsible for ensuring prescription drugs are safe for patients to use. But are they? It seems we can no longer be sure. With an investigation into this supposed drugs watchdog for fraud involving a conflict of interests, it seems cannabis could be safer than a lot of the medicines prescribed by your doctor. The system istself is proving to be corrupt.

Despite advice on overprescribing Valium having been issued more than twenty years ago, British doctors continue to dole out prescriptions as though the little blue pills are no more harmful than jelly beans. Thousands of patients have become addicted, many have suffered severe mental and physical side effects, and some have died. Even supposedly ‘safe’ drugs drugs such as aspirin and paracetemol are turning out to be not quite so safe as we have been led to believe, sometimes causing the very conditions they are meant to cure. Test results for new drugs are often fixed, or withheld if they reveal information that might affect sales negatively.

A recent Guardian story revealed 15,000 American die from painkiller overdoses each year. A toll greater than deaths caused by heroin and cocaine combined. In seventeen US states overdoses of prescription drugs have become the number one killer, surpassing even car crashes.

What is even more disappointing is the supression of news regarding the positive results of treatments involving proscribed drugs. Big Pharma and government have conspired to withhold research results and information on natural products, at present illegal, that could help many patients, who have not benefited from prescribed medicines manufactured and distributed by a few massive global chemical companies.

It is not widely known, but as well as being an effective  pain reliever for those suffering from Mutiple Sclerosis and other long-term illness, cannaboids can be used as potent antibiotics. This is particualarly important at a time when most antibiotics produced by pharmaceutical firms are losing the battle against fast-evolving, antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Discussing the drugs problem rationally

It is impossible to conduct a rational debate on the morals of consuming drugs in a situation created by the legislation against them. The only relevant argument in the present climate has to begin with the advantages and harms of drugs remaining criminalised against the advantages and harms of decriminalisation.

At the moment all benefits appear to be in favour of the billionaire global traffickers. Even users suffer by the trade being in their hands. They are often cheated, robbed, and on occasion, poisoned or murdered by dealers. Critics against legalisation point the finger at Holland to show it hasn’t worked. Little wonder, one small country in a Europe surrounded by other huge countries with large populations seeking to get high without the threat of arrest, is bound to attract drug tourism. If Germany, Belgium, Britain and France had legalised spliff at the same time there wouldn’t have been a problem. It’s not the Dutch; it’s the rest of us.

Inevitably, along with drug tourists came drug criminals to prey on a centralised market. Nevertheless, loosening up legislation hasn’t resulted in lawless bands controlling large areas of Holland, as they do in many countries where drugs are completely illegal.

Since legislation relaxing the laws on drugs was introduced in Portugal  consumption of cannabis has actually decreased. But as with Mexico and Argentina, the laws have only decriminalised possession, which still leaves the distribution of drugs in the hands of drug barons.

A Fresh Approach

A fresh look at the way we deal with the drug problem is imperative. There must be no panaceas and no exceptions. Though legislation to decriminalise and control more addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine will be difficult, without it opportunites for criminals will remain. But real change requires international co-operation at government level. It screams for imagination and, above all, courageous statesmen.

The governments of producer nations should be consulted and asked to draw up plans to oversee farming and guarantee quality control. Growers, manufacturers and retailers must be vetted and be able to show they have never been involved in the illicit supply of drugs. Duties and taxes must be set at a price that doesn’t encourage users to overuse, but neither must it be so expensive as to stimulate a black market.

It’s up to trade partnerships, such as the EU, to begin serious debate. The first to take up the challenge will have an advantage in a global market. It’s all very well for governments to claim harsh drugs laws are there to ‘protect’ drug users from themselves, but what about protecting non-users from the much greater threat illicit drug-dealing creates in their neighbourhoods? The issue is no longer how bad drugs are for users but how bad does the situation have to get before the health and security of non-users is taken into consideration?

If we really want a society without excessive alcohol or drug consumption it must come through choice and not imposition. A society that feels a desperate need for alcohol and drugs – even legally prescribed drugs, such as painkillers, tranquilisers and sleeping pills – is by definition a sick society. We are administering temporary cures to ourselves on an increasingly regular basis. The road towards real cure begins when we to examine the way we lead our lives and assess what satisfaction we obtain from them.

Nevertheless, with or without that real cure, we have to accept that drugs and alcohol – legal or illegal – will always play a part in our lives to a greater or lesser extent. The biggest danger comes from peddling the myths, not the drugs

The End

If you’re a British citizen or resident, and think the present UK policy on drugs is not working, please sign Caroline Lucas MP’s on-line petition to get the House of Commons to re-examine the laws on drugs.

Please note: Though it could lead to decriminalisation or legalisation this is is not the primary purpose of this petition, which is to get parliament to examine if the present policy on drugs is working

Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015  Bryan Hemming               Conil

Click here for latest: August 3, 2013. Finally the start of a bit of common sense. And how many hundreds of thousands have had to die too get here? Time for Europe to start waking up

Channel 4 Jon Snow interviews Russell Brand on legalisation of drug issue, and fails in his mealy-mouthed badgering to make Brand look stupid, succeeding only in making himself look well past his sell-by date.

Max Keiser Report In this televised report for RT exposes alleged links between the US government and the Sinaloa drugs cartel. Huge amounts of cash are involved and the cartel has virtually been given a licence to sell illegal drugs in Chicago.

The War on Drugs Has Failed Google Tech Talk debate: Though this video is very informative, the visual presentation, which takes up over 45 minutes, is far too slow.

More links to articles on drugs and the war against drugs

Every week new articles on drugs are published calling for legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis. Many professionals now see a good case for even harder drugs to be controlled and distibuted. Articles on how big pharma companies are exploiting patients by developing drugs that are physically or psychologically addictive are also being published. In the pursuit of profit, they seem to think nothing of killing and maiming people with their products. Many articles describe the death and destruction not legalising drugs has brought to thousands of communities throughout the world. I will be linking to as many as I come across. Believe me, I’m not exactly obsessed by the subject so there are many more stories out there than there are links here.

The Washington Post 5th June 2015 Christopher Ingraham explains “Why hardly anyone dies from a drug overdose in Portugal”. Use of all drugs has declined in Portugal since the introduction of laws that treat drug use as a public health issue not a criminal one.

The Mind Unleashed March 4th 2015. Study Shows Marijuana 114 Times Safer Than Drinking Alcohol by Marco Torres.

The Guardian 16th June 2015 For those in any doubt that most of the paranoia spread by government propaganda was anything other than paranoia, the lessons already learned by countries where marijuana and other drugs are already legal are spreading to US states where drugs have been relaxed. Sarah Boseley reports: US marijuana legalisation has not led to rise in use by adolescents, study finds. Futher to that, new legislation has led to a drop in drug use by younger children.

The Guardian 14th May 2015 While indiividual states in the U.S. loosen up Marijuana legislation, interested parties in federal government keep the war on drugs alight through ignoring the truth for as long as possible. Though the was goes on both sides of the border, things are much worse in Mexico. Jo Tuckman reports from Mexico City in: ‘You can’t trust anybody’: the Mexicans caught up in the drug war just south of Texas. It’s just a matter of time before the same all-out turf wars break out between cartels north of the border.

The Guardian 17th April 1015 Cista (The Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party) campaigns for legalisation of cannabis in Northern Ireland in 2015 General Election bid. In Damien Gayle’s article, mainly concerned with the medical use of cannabis in pain relief, The Guardian decides to make light of it with a bit of psychopathic humour by running it under the title: The election’s gone to pot: Northern Ireland gets broadcast from pro-cannabis party. It is the newspaper itself that has gone to pot.

The Guardian 9th April 2015. When will they ever learn? The counter-productive effects of the war of drugs continue. In Government advised to ban substances related to ADHD drug Ritalin Damien Gayle unfolds more avoidable messes caused by disconnnected government agencies pursuing ineffective policies in complete denial of widespread failure.

The Guardian Ist April 2015 It’s not just drug barons and drug cartels that get rich of the back of the drug industry. Despite having failed miserably on many fronts, Academi, the security company formerly known as Blackwater, was able to suck nearly half a billion dollars from US taxpayers to eradicate opium production in Afghanistan. Since they began their efforts in 2011, there has been 60% growth in Afghan land used for opium poppy cultivation, as Spencer Ackerman details in Former Blackwater gets rich as Afghan drug production hits record high.

The Guardian 27th February 21015 The war on drugs is killing the poor. In Failing global war on drugs disastrous for low-income farmers, claims study Mark Anderson describes how hardline drug policies exploit farmers and have negative implications for environment, healthcare and women’s rights.

The Independent 1st February 2015 While the ISIS beheadings dominate the headlines week after week, the much more frequent beheadings carried by drug cartels in Mexico, just across the border from the US, go largely unreported, as do the many other deaths and kidnappings. But one brave journalist carries on despite numerous death threats. On his Facebook page, Valor por Tampaulus (Courage for Tamaulipas), an anonymous administrator publishes information on the cartels. Read more in Catherine Vervier’s Blogger takes on Mexico’s drug gangs by publishing vital news on the latest shootouts, abductions and cartel roadblocks.

The Guardian 6th January 2015 In Superman ‘ecstasy’ pill deaths are result of ‘illogical and punitive drugs policy’ Dr David Nutt, who advised the last government on drug policy until his advice no longer fitted that government’s agenda, once again demonstrates how the war on drugs increases the danger of being killed by drugs.

Colltales 24th November 1014 Wesley Coll focuses his blog on Mexico in his excellent coverage of the drug wars and the terrible consequences for Mexicans. Open Graves Across the Border sheds more light on a series of interconnected problems the US media tends to ignore in the main.

The Guardian 6th November 2014 In a topsy-turvey world, while the British government tries to bury reports that have the temerity to suggest drugs policies aren’t working to appease the USA, the people of more states in the USA – vote for the legalisation of cannabis. Chris McGreal writes: Oregon and Alaska voters approve legalise recreational marijuana laws

The Independent 19th October 2014 Duncan Tucker reports from Guadalajara on even more violence and corruption Mexico: Anger grows over Mexico’s missing as drug cartels turn to human trafficking. Since I first began chronicling articles on a regular basis in 2011, things in Mexico have got even worse with entire regions effectively falling under the control of murderous criminals, despite the very real war the Mexican government is waging against the cartels. The US fights murderous organisations that take control of countries far away from its borders, but continues to ignore the criminal terrorism in its backyard. We don’t hear quite so much about the beheadings in Mexico, which have been going on far longer than the ones in Iraq and Syria.

The Observer 5th October 2014. The tide has turned but the government takes no heed. 84% of those polled by the British newspaper think the war on drugs cannot be won. Under the title: Huge majority thinks ‘war on drugs’ has failed, new poll finds Mark Townsend presents the figures that reveal how growing numbers of those asked believe decriminalisation is the answer.

The Guardian 1st October 2014. For years Jamaica resisted decriminalisation of possession of marijuana due to the fear of ‘international’ (US) sanctions. But since the legalisation in some US states, the country has decided to move in an attempt to further medical research into the benefits of marijuana, as well as to stamp out the crime associated with the drug. Associated Press in Kingston reports:  Jamaica moves to decriminalise marijuana, with eyes on medical use.

The Independent 16th July 2014. In an article written by Kashmira Gander, Wales become one of the first nation within in the fragmenting union in the United Kingdom  to recognise cannabis is not just fun, but actually has medical benefits. it has long been known that cannabis gives some relief to sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis among a large variety of illnesses. That cannabis, which also offers relaxation and escape to many people, without posing a significant risk to society, is regarded as so dangerous by our rulers to warrant the presence of heavily-armed officers of the state to control, seems incredibly perverse coming from a society that succeeds making the road to alcoholism seem sexy.

The Guardian 23rd June 2014 While some American states begin to understand the immensity of the failure of the war on drugs, in the UK the refusal to accept reality goes on claiming lives. In The war on drugs killed my daughter Mark Townsend reports on the terrible ordeal faced by Anne-Marie Cockburn following the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Martha Fernback, from an MDMA overdose, which could have been prevented if the drug had been tested for strength. Anne-Marie Cockburn has started a campaign for the legalisation of drugs and written a book entitled 5,742 Days, the exact number of days Martha Fernback lived.

The Guardian 1st April 2014  While many countries progress with drug control policies the British government goes backwards handing the khat business to criminal gangs on a plate. In There’s simply no case for banning khat Julian Huppert argues that the proposed ban on the natural stimulant will just be a gift to a drug barons.

The Guardian 21st February 2014 Mexico City is the latest place to see through the nonsense led by the US over the issue of marijuana. Mexico City legislators move to relax cannabis laws Jo Tuckman reports from Mexico City.

The Independent 10th February 2014 While othe countries move forward the LibDem Deputy Prime Minister of Britain  suggested the drug issue should be debated instead of calling for decriminalisation and regulation. Too little, too late, and at a time his popularity is swiftly waning. Ian Birreli writes: Two cheers for Nick Clegg – at least he’s talking about drugs.

The Guardian 7th February 2014 Russell Brand write on the tragic and avoidable death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from spiked heroin in Philip Seymour Hoffman  is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws

The Independent 3rd February 2014 Things are moving incredibly fast. The mayors of 35 cities in Holland are seeking permission to cultivate cannabis in an attempt to take the business out of the hands of criminal gangs. Charlotte McDonald Gibson reports in Why Dutch mayors want to cultivate cannabis.

The Independent 19th January 2014  The seachange on thinking against marijuana is happening quicker than I could’ve possibly hoped or imagined with President Obama announcing he regards the drug no more harmful than cigarettes or tobacco. However, he did not got so far as to tell the full truth and admit that it is less harmful. Adam Withnall reports in: Barack Obama says: marijuana is ‘no more dangerous than alcohol’ and users should not be jailed. Still, we should be thankful for small mercies. Now, when will the war against bankers begin?

The Independent 17th January 2014 As democracy falls apart in Mexico’s state of Micoahan armed militias are taking over the role of the police and piliticians they regard as having been corrupte by the drug group known as the Knights Templar. Paul Imison reports in Mexico’s last line of defence: The militia taking on the country’s drug cartels… and the police officers protecting them

RINF  14th December 2013 The undemocratic United Nations, which was basically an organisation desigen to maintain peace in the world, seems to be promoting war these days. Now they turn on Uruguay in an attempt to undermine Uruguayan law and the democratically elected president of the country, José Mujica, by announcing the legalisation of marijuana by Uruguay to be illegal. Mick Meaney’s RINF writes: UN Claims UruguayNot Allowed to End Marijuana Prohibition. Wonder why it picked on small, unoffesive Uruaguay when Portugal and Czech Republic have legalised all drugs and states in the US are also starting to see the War on Drugs has failed. Many other countries have also relaxed their laws on marijuana. The UN has some explaining to do, as it is supposed to represent nations, and the rights of the citizens of those nations, not rule them.

The Guardian 13th December 2013 To read the UN’s reaction to Uruguay’s new law leading towards a sensible and controlled legalisation of marijuana it might be predicted the country is about to unleash death and destruction on a massive scale amongst its citizens. Simon Jenkins puts the move into perspective with: Heroic Uruguay deserves a Nobel peace prize for legalising marijuana.

The Independent 4th December 2013 It feels great to be able to start linking to good news as it finally looks as thought the failure of war on drugs is starting to be recognised by some US states. Is cannabis culture finally going mainstream? As Colorado welcomes legal marijuana, The Denver Post has appointed a ‘weed editor‘ Tim Walker reports.

The Guardian 19th November 2013 With my small readership I can’t really claim any credit, but at last changes are beginning to happen. Uruguay has begun to adopt measures I describe in this article for the legalisation and control of marijuana distribution to combat drug crime. Jonathan Watts reports from Montivideo in Uruguay’s likely cannabis law could set tone for war in drugs in Latin America.

The Guardian 13th November 2013 Continuing failure doesn’t teach our governments a thing. Afghanistan’s poppy farmers plant record opium crop, UN report says Emma Graham-Harrison reports from Kabul.

The Guardian 1st November 2013 Evidence from Martin Power that the war on drugs helps to produce more new drugs than it controls. Drugs unlimited: how I created my very own legal high.

The Independent 24th October 2013 Unlike their government, and other governements throughout the world, more than half the population of the US see sense at last. Support for legalising marijuana reaches an all-time high in the US– A report by David Usborne.

The Guardian October 22nd 2013. Another declaration of peace, as the failure of the war on drugs is recognised. In a report entitled: Uruguay to sell legal marijuana for $1 a gram Associated Press in Montevideo describes President José Mujica’s plan to legalise marijuana with government-controlled sales.

The Independent October 20th 2013 At least 26,000 people missing in Mexico as a result of the drug wars. Imagine what the US or British governments would do if 26,000 of their citizens went missing as a result of criminal activity. Nina Lakhani writes: The disappeared: At least 26,000 people have gone missing in Mexico’s drugs wars

Business Insider In a startling allegation made in the business magazine on September 21st 2013 The Mexican Cartel Kingpin that supplies 80% Of The Drugs Flooding Chicago works with the US government. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been named as a government informant and “given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago.”
Read more:

The Independent October 7th 2013 In 1995 the US did not publish a World Health Organisation report concluding there were ‘no negative effects’ on health from the use of coca leaves. Far from it, the beneficial effects of coca leaves in relieving have been widely known for centuries. Read Jonathan Brown’s:  Lifting ban on cocaine plant can help millions of lives, MPs told

The Observer September 15th 2013 Please keep up there at the back. In Legal cannabis market would be worth  £1.25bn a year to government James Doward writes on a study stating the obvious, and something I’ve been saying for years.

The Observer, September 1st 2013  Mexico’s war on drugs is one big lie. A must read by Ed Vulliamy on the publication of Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers by Mexican journalist and writer, Annabel Hernandez, who live under constant threat from the Mexican drug cartels for her brave stance against corruption.

The Observer September 1st 2013 Yet more depressing evidence the war on drugs has done nothing stemmed the appetite for drugs and their availability in the UK, but could be said to have increased both. ‘Addict’ Britain is worldwide hub for sales of legal highs by Mark Townsend

The Guardian August 13 2013 They can’t admit they’ve failed completely but smal changes are happening. In Eric Holder’s new reforms aimed at curbing prison population we learn from Dan Roberts and Karen McVeigh that minor drug dealers maybe spared mandatory minimum sentences that have locked up many for ten years or more. How long will it take before we get an admission of complete failure?

The Independent August 1 2013. Los Reyes : the town that dared stand up to Meixco;’s drug cartels. An Independent story by Paul Imison only adds to previous story in The Garidan of a week ago. Now we hearof the  yellow-bellied cowardice shown by the criminals and authorities in Michoacan where unarmed mothers and their babies were mown down in cold blood by masked men while brave politicians and  police officers stood by as spectators to the bloodfest. Obama’s priority? Arrest Edward Snowden. Digusting! It gets harder and harder to compile this list.

The Guardian July 24th 2013 Associated Press reports Mexico violence eaves 22 dead in Michoacan at least 15 police officers were wounded too in a planned ambush on police patrols

The Independent July 16th 2013 The who’s who of the murdreous drug wars I sometimes think it would be far more honorable to devote a whole newspaper to a list of the hundreds of thousands of innocnet men, women, children and babies who have been slaughtered as a result of the war on drugs, listing in what horrible circumstances they were murdered. Articles like this one by Heather Saul can seem like glorifications.

The Independent July 16th 2013 There are many who will see the capture of Mexico Zetas drug leader Miguel Angle Trevino captured in car raid as a victory in the war  against drugs. Yet, tor the families of the hundreds, if not thousand os his victims, it will be but a pyrrhic victory. They know his capture won’t bring back their loved ones, and they also know they won’t be able to sleep any safer in their beds at night, as someone will have already taken his place.

The Guardian July 16th 2013 A report on the little-known heroin crisis in Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico’s ignored public health crisis: “I’ve lost a lot of friends to drugs” by Alexander Hotz and Kristofer Rios

The Guardian June 15th 2013 Signs some are beginning to realise decrimimalising drugs could actually be of help to medical research, In At last, the edificen drugs prohibition is beginning to crumble Amanda Feilding of The Beckly Foundation discusses the  Psychedelic Science Conference a recent three day forum held in San Francisco.

The Independent June 13th 2013. Professor Nutt, A British scientist, was basically sacked from by thte British government for not saying what they wanted him to on drugs. In “The worse case of scientific censorship sincethe Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo”: Scientists call for drugs to be legalised to allow proper study of their properties. Charlie Cooper discusses a new paper published by the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

The Guardian May 25th 2013  In The whole joint is a deeply encoded temple of hegemonic power British comedian, Russell Brand, introduces Caroline Lucas MP is trying to get British parliament to look at drugs policy to see if it working by encouraging as many people as possible to sign a petition

The Observer May 19th 2013 Colorado’s budding industry by Jenny Kleeman. At least there is some good news. The problem will be the same type of drug tourism Holland has suffered. Acting alone will not solve the problem. On the other hand, an end to prohibition has to start somewhere.

The Observer May 19th 2013 Latin American nations are showing their growing impatience with the complete failure of the war on drugs. It is their countries that have paid much of the price for the US’s insatiable demand for drugs. Jamie Doward reports on the Review by Organisation of American States  in Western leaders study ‘gamechanging’ report on global drugs trade. With too many US agencies in the war involved in the war on drugs I fear the position will not change.

The Guardian May 5th 2013 One of many real battles against drugs is being fought by those who have to suffer addicts injecting drugs in theit neighbourboods and the crimes that ensue from drugs being illegal. In Copenhagen a scheme to get drug use off the streets is having some success. Inside Denmark’s ‘fixing rooms’, where nurses watch while addicts inject in safety A report from Copenhagen by Daniel Boffey.

The Guardian April 15th 2013 How many failures will it take before those responsible for the death and destruction admit they were wrong? Emma Graham/Harrison reports from Kabul: Afghanistan: high expectations of record opium crop

The Independent April 10th 2013 Shock! Horror! Desptie it having been common knowledge for years government ministers, police chiefs amd military chiefs and terrorists of many nation have been working together to smuggle and illegal arms and drugs, this article acts as though it’s a bit of a surprise. Robert Cornwell writes: West African leader linked to $400m cocaine smuggling ring

The Independent April 7th 2013 Insane rules block medical trial of fungus Steve Connor reports on drugs companies’ lethargy whe it comes to finding more natural ways to alleviate depression.

The Guardian April 4th 2013 In ‘They stole our dreams’: blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico’s drug wars Roy Carroll writes about a brave anonymous blogger in Mexico exposing the horrors of the the drugs wars. Lucy, as she calls herself, and her colleague on Blog de Narco have written a book about their own struggle to fight the narcos: Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War by the Fugitive Reporters of Blog del Narco

The Huffington Post 31st March 2013 Not exactly a startlingly new theory, more an attempt to sell a book, I feel. Nevertheless, Ryan Grim’s piece: Ron Paul Had accurate Conspiracy Theory: CIA Was Tied To Drug Traffickers is well worth a read for the new facts it presents to back the theory.

The Guardian 31th March 2013  In his film The House I Live In (trailer) Eugene Jarecki produces some interesting evidence that legislation against drugs was initially inspired by racism against Chinese immgrants flocking to California. Andrew Anthiny discusses this with Jarecki and visits a prison to talk to a couple of the inmates in Eugene Jarecki an the the campaign to end Americ’s war on drugs.

The Independent from 12 September 2011, but re-published 20th March 2013, bu I ususally avoid articles, which create positive images about any drugs, because this article isn’t intended to encourage people to take drugs, or not to take drugs, it is basically trying to say that the war on drugs has achieved the very opposite of it stated objectives and needs a complete rethink. Having made that clear, I still couldn’t help including a link to this article by Matt Blake Single magic mushroom can ‘change personality’. For the better, it seems.

The Guardian 9th March 2013 Comedian, Russell Brand, writes a superb and touching piece on his own addiction to alcohol and drugs with none of the protronising attitude I have come to expect from many reformed addicts and alcoholics: Russell Brand: My life without drugs

The Telegraph 24th February 2013 Ways of laundering drug money are many and often surprising as Claire Duffin reports from Skaryszew, Poland, in Horse meat: trade is a ‘front for laundering money’

The Independent 16th February 2013 You might suppose the US would start to join up the big dots. Tim Walker reports on Chicago’s rising crime and murder rate tracing the fault back to Mexico in Chicago has a new Publc Enemy No 1

The Independent 4th February 2013 Latin American drug gangs, corrupt police and public officals tear at the very fabric of society, ripping apart families and communities. From Mexico City, Paul Imisin shows how the war on drugs is claiming far more victims than the drugs themselves: The freight train that runs to the heart of Mexico’s ‘Drugs War’: Riding ‘La Bestia’ to freedom or death

LA Times 20th January 2013 The Feds flex muscle in taking the war against drugs to responsible growers in Mendocino County California. Joe Monzingo reports for LA Times: Mendocino County spars with feds over conflicting marijuana laws

The Observer 20th January 2013 Another Latin American leader tells the West to call off the war on drugs. Jamie Doward reports how Otto Pérez Molina has said regulated markets must be introduced Call of war on drugs, leader of Guatemala tells the West

Information Clearing House 21st December 2012 In a brilliant, hard-hitting, piece on the double-standards and hypocrisy employed by governments dealing with Banks involved in drug money laundering, Matt Taibbi exposes the war against drugs for the gigantic con it is: Proof the Drug War is a Joke

The Guardian December 16th 2012 Fidel Cano Correa reveals the hypocrisy of David Cameron and terrible effects the war on drugs has had on both his family and his country in: In Colombia; David Cameron’s stance on drugs looks cynical.

The Independent December 10th 2012 In another pathetic ‘nanny knows best’ decision by the Tory government, Cameron and his gang listen only to their own advice in: Government will not change drugs policy despite critical report by Paul Peachey

LA Times December 1st 2012 Tracy Wilkinson tells a particualarly sad story: Environmental activist and her son slain in Mexico

The Independent December 1st 2012 Another sad story, another avoidable statistic. Mexico: More than 25,000 people disappear in six years is reported by William Booth.

LA Times November 28th 2012 In an appalling article, which could be regarded as a mouthpiece  for US propaganda, Tracy Wilkinson, Richard Fausset and Brian Bennett make it sound as though the war on drugs in Mexico has turned a corner. It hasn’t. During  the so-called partnership with the US under Calderon it is estimated 100,000 Mexicans were killedUS-Mexico drug was partnership under Calderon broke new ground.

The Guardian November 11th 2012  As US states legalise marijuana, is this the end of the drugs war? As Eugene Jarecki takes the opportunity to plug his documentary The house I live in we are told little new but to watch it.

The Independent October 18th 2012 A real mess here, the drug laws have created a situation government can only flap about. Neil Morris writes: Government’s drug watchdog urges a ban on ‘legal highs’ marketed as alternatives to cannabis and ketamine

The Guardian October 17th 2012 This week saw the release of another Runciman report on drugs. It’s the second time in 12 years lady Runciman has graced us with her views on what most of us have known for years. I can think of better ways of spending public funds. Simon Jenkins gives his take on the subject in It’s  drugs politics, not drugs policy that needs an inquiry.

The Independent October 16th 20012 Cancar sufferer Erika Rex describes how the hallucinogenic drug, psilocybin helped her in My magical mystery cure 

The Guardian October 15th 20012 Apparently it takes a committee six years to discover less than I can write about in hours. Decriminalise drug use, sayexperts after six-year study Alan Travis brings us news of yet another report the government will ignore.

The Guardian October 14th 20012 Not a week goes by without news of more deaths occurring as a direct result of the war on drugs in Mexico’s drug cartels target journalists in brutal killing spree Ed Villiamy reports from Xalapa on the everyday risks of working as a journalist in Mexico.

The Guardian October 9th 2012 William Allen describes how narcotraffickers, among other criminal organisations, are thratening the planet Drug gangs threaten Mayan reserve.

The Independent September 24th 2012 Marseille: Europe’s most dangerous city to be young  John Lichfield reports on drug link murders in the South of France.

The Independent September 15th 2012 In a ‘blame the plants not the law’ piece Jonathan Brown and Paul Peachey allow police sources to claim drug growers are being treated too leninetly by the courts. As a result are increasingly willing to risk being shot by gangs as an alternative  25 plants, £40,000 of income: home-grown cannabis blamed for new criminal turf war. Is it just me who finds this ridiculous?

The Guardian September 15th 2012  Jamie Doward paints a new slant to the extent of the failure of the war against drugs in Has Britain’s war on drugs led to more executions in Iran?

The Independent September 14th 2012. Nick Goodway exposes yet another myth perpetuated by pharma compnies who profit hansomely from outdated and unworkable legislation against the use of cannabis Cannabis component in epilapsy drug

The Independent September 11th 2012 Micheal Day reveals even more depressing evidence the war on drugs is failing spectacularly in After years of calm, Mob war returns to Naples

The Guardian September 1 2012 In the first article in a day of drug news John Hooper reports from Rome:   Exiled Italian victim of  ‘Ndrangheta defies the Calabria mobsters

The Guardian September 1 20012 Though the connection may not be immediately apparent Mexican journalist, Lydia Cacho, does mention a link between drug-dealing gangs and enforced prostitution in this imterview with  Emine Saner: Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho: ‘I don’t scare easily’. In the same edition of the Guardian: Mexico’s war on drugs. An assessment of the war on drugs through stories published in the paper over the last five years.

The Independent July !3th 2012 Jeremy Laurance profiles Matt Bowden: The drugs lord who’s strictly legal. Matt Bowden, who has made a fortune selling legal highs, calls for drug controls more in line with the laws on the consumption of alcohol.

The Guardian July 25th 2012 In an article by Alan Travis we can see that youngsters are not always drawn to drugs despite how freely they have become available since the war on drugs began: Drug taking among 16- to 24-year-olds at lowest level since 1996

The Independent July 10th 2012 On the anniversary of the tragic death of his daughter Amy Mitch Winehouse talks to Patrick Strudwick Mitch Winehouse: ‘I wish it could’ve been me that died, not Amy…’

The Independent June 22nd 2012 Uruguay sees sense in stopping the US dictate their failed policy on drugs to the rest of the world. Simeon Tegel writes: Nationalisation: Uruguay’s solution to its drug problem

The Guardian May 14th 2012 It’s turning into an incredibly bloody fortmight in Mexico Associated Press reports: Mexican authorities find 49 bodies dumped on nothern highway

The Guardian May 9th 2012 It becomes very depressing to have to post these articles on so many deaths in Mexico due to the war on drugs. It must be remembered they are only the more spectacular deaths reported in the Western media. From Associated Press: Mexican police discover at least 15 dismembered bodies near Guadalajara

The Independent May 5th 2012 Stories of Mexican drug cartels war on journalists are emerging with depressing regularity. Mark Stevenson and E Eduardo Castillo report Fear spreads as Mexican journalists mourned

The Guardian May 5th 2012 Associated Press reports Bodies hung from bridge as 23 more die in Mexico drug war Speaks for itself.

The Guardian May 4th 2012 Four more journalists murdered in Veracruz, Mexico signalling the utter failure of Felipe Cadaron’s war  against drugs and the Mexican cartels. Jo Tuckman reports from Mexico City Four Mexican journalists murdered in last week 

The Independent May 2nd 2012 Homegrown. The second Indie article in a week on this subject is rather spoiled by the inclusion of a totally irrelevant piece on two deaths caused by a drug totally unrelated to cannabis. Deaths related to alcohol could have been mentioned just as easily, or deaths related to legally prescribed drugs. Bad and irresposible journalism. Here’s the link to Cannabis: Britain’s growth industry by Jerome Taylot and Paul Peachey. The Guardian May 1st If we need any more evidence the war on drugs isn’t working surely this tragic report from Reuters provides it: Number of US newborns with drug withdrawal triples

The Guardian April 30th 2012 Cannabis production booming in Britain, say police Alan Travis, home affairs editor, talks about homegrown.

The Independent April 30th 2012 A slightly different take on same story reported in The Guardian, which I prefer.  In this, the boys in blue, way behind public sentiment as usual, attack the people being attacked by the crisis. Wesley Johnson reports on the greatest danger posed by growing cannabis to make a living in Over 20 cannabis farms found by police every dayApril 30th 2012

NationofChange April 30th 2012 Coincidentally having submitted The Myth Peddlars to NationofChange last October I wasn’t so happy to see the supposedly left-wing site do one themselves tackling exactly the same subjects, albeit from a slightly differently and less comprehensive stance. I was told I would be contacted very shortly. I’m still waiting. So, you´re just another bunch of journos nicking stuff, eh? Anyway, for what it’s worth John Benson reports Hundreds of Economists Agree Marijuana Legalization Could Save U.S Taxpayers $13.7 Billion Per Year

The Independent April 27th 2012  A step backward for the Netherlands with a new court ruling. Rob Williams reports in Cannabis tourism up in smoke? Judge backs foreigner café ban

The Guardian April 11th 2012 Right-wing hawk, neocon and one of the chief architects of the crisis we’re in, Paul Wolfowitz, likes to hold Colombia up as a shining example of how the war on drugs is showing signs of success. Apparently things aren’t quite so rosy on the ground, as Toby Muse reports from the ground in Medellín  New drug gang wars blow Colombian city’s revival apart

The Independent April 11th 2012 Here’s a very amusing, and incredibly relevant, article by Alasdair Fotheringham, which shows how drugs can help the economy Spanish town votes to stop finances going to pot

The Guardian April 8th 2012 Difficult to know what to make of this piece entitled Tiny Mexican paper fights drug taboo by Jo Tuckman in Caluicán Mexico. Seems as though Rió Doce, the newspaper involved, has become embedded with the cartels. It may report some of the truth in a place where reporting anything on the cartels is extremely dangerous, but missing out the whole truth sometimes amounts to a lie.

The Guardian April 8th 2012 ‘War on Drugs’ has failed say Latin American leaders but just try telling that to US leaders. Jamie Doward reports on a watershed summit to be held in Cartagena, Colombia that will admit prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics.

The Independent April 5th 2012 Despite all the negative propaganda over the decades, seems smoking spliff might not kill you after all.  In One foot in the rave: middle-age drug use rising Jeremy Laurance discovers yet another set of experts have no idea what they’re talking about.

NationofChange March 19th 2012 Ethan A Huff reveals it isn’t only drug barons making huge amounts of money out of the conitnuing prohibition of drugs. Lobbyists and police agencies also have their dirty fingers in the till: Exposed: Lobbyist Who Helped Kill California Pot Legalization Is Getting Rich Off Drug War

The Guardian March 16th 2012 Sarah Boseley writes: Recreational drug users take medicines to control side effects, survey finds. Yet another article pointing out the dangers of taking ‘legal’ – or prescription – drugs, which are often more addictive, and can do far more harm than illegal drugs.

The Independent March 13th 2012 Steve O’Connor reveals governmental hypocrisy over tobacco- one of the biggest killers around – in comparison with their stance on other addictive substances in: The PM, his pro-smoking aide and a dirty war over cigarette packaging.

The Independent March 1st 2012 The prohibition of drugs has been an abject failure with a devastating human cost James Bloodworth blogs on the drug wars.

The Guardian February 20th 2012 Mexico drug gang warfare leaves 44 dead in prison near Monterrey Another story of slaughter amongst Mexican drug gangs reported by Jo Tuckman. Though many may think they deserve what they get, there are many more victims of gang violence than just gang members.

Daily Mail February 17th 2012 Afghan drug war debacle: Blair said smashing opium trade was a major reason to invade but 10 years on heroin production is up from 185 tons a year to 5,800 David Williams reports on another spectacular failure in the war on drugs.

The Independent February 16th 2012 Guatemalan Leader: the only way to beat gangs is to legalise drugs Otto Perez Molin, president of Guatemala, wants drugs to be legalised. Guy Adams reports.

The Guardian February 14th 2012   Tony Bennett calls for drug legalisation following Whitney Houston’s death. The widely-respected eighty-five- year-old singer spoke out at pre-Grammy awards party calling for an end to repressive drug laws that claim more victims than the drugs themselves. According to a report by Sean Michaels he called for celebrities to commit themselves to getting even present laws on hard drug overturned.

The Guardian December 30th 2011 David Batty reports on the growing dependence on antidepressants due to insecurity brought on by the financial crisis in Antidepressant use in England soars

The Guardian December 7th 2011 Jo Tuckman, Paddy Allen and Lisa Foreman colbaborate to produce: Mexico Drug Wars – an interactive timelinewhich consists of a map of Mexico showing the main areas of the ‘war on drugs’ over the ten years from 2001 to 2011. The startling figures show how much of an abysmal failure yet another US war has been.

The Guardian Decenber 9th 2011Article on Mexican drug cartels buying arms in US to smuggle across the border- How Mexico’s drug cartels profit from flow of guns across the border

CNNMoney Another video aired by CNN featuring Richard Branson advocating the legalisation of drugs Richard Branson’s war on drugs Try to skip the ad

The Independent 14 November 2011: Nina Lakhan writes a two-part special report on the double standards and racism practised by global pharma Without consent: how drugs companies exploit Indian ‘guinea pigs’

The Independent 15 November 2011: In the  second part of her special report, Nina Lakhani exposes how survivors of India’s Bhopal were exploited by big pharma From tragedy to travesty: Drugs tested on survivors of Bhopal

The Financial Times 11 November 2011: An article reporting the death of José Francisco Blake Mora, Mexico’s interior minister. Though drug cartels have yet to be linked to the killing, this story has some interesting links: Top Mexican minister dies in helicopter crash

The Guardian 9 November 2011: Mexican drug wars beset by systematic torture and killings, report finds

Alternet 16 July 2010: Zach Carter on banks being propped up by drug profits Wall Street is laundering Drug Money and Getting Away with It The Myth Peddlars – how the war on drugs has failed was first published in the Daily Sketcher in 2009. This is an updated version.

LA Times

The Los Angeles Times has compiled a list of its articles on the drug wars in Mexico. Mexico Under Siege – The drig war at our doorstep  contains links to all stories on the war on drugs in Mexico published by the newspaper since June 3rd 2008, and is being constantly updated.

Blogs and websites on drug legalisation and facts on the reasons for outlawing drugs in the first place

Drug by Pete Guither Transform Drug Policy Schaffer Library  of Drug Policy Intelligence² Civil Liberties Count the Costs / 50 Years of the War on Drugs

26 comments on “The Myth Peddlars – the war on drugs has failed

  1. old.frt
    June 25, 2017

    Has this thread dried up?


    • Bryan Hemming
      June 25, 2017

      Thank you for your fascinating observation. Yes, the particular thread you tried to begin is completely dry of intelligent comment. Therefore, as you so rightly point out, it has dried up.


      • Peter Melvoin
        June 25, 2017

        Too bad. We are finaally getting around to a national discussion. Long over due, imo.

        On Sat, Jun 24, 2017 at 10:35 PM, Bryan Hemming wrote:

        > Bryan Hemming commented: “Thank you for your fascinating observation. Yes, > the particular thread you tried to begin is completely dry of intelligent > comment. Therefore, as you so rightly point out, it has dried up.” >


  2. JF
    October 18, 2014

    Hi, Bryan. I read your article with great interest. There are many thoughts and facts in it that I agree with. Yes, the war on drugs has failed. So the war against poverty failed. The immigration policy failed too.
    I agree that it is necessary to review what should be legal and thoroughly investigate what will happen from all points of views (economy first) if some drugs are legalized.
    I don’t believe at all that it is possible to get cooperation between countries regarding drugs.
    We need to get together for at least a couple of weeks to argue your points (alcohol is not prohibited in the USA). 😉


    • Bryan Hemming
      October 19, 2014

      Thanks for reading my article, but you might want to go through it again properly, as the subject is so serious. Nowhere do I state that alcohol is prohibited in the US, I just refer to the time it was prohibited during the 1920s and 30s, so I would prefer it if you didn’t mislead people, either intentionally or as a joke. To quote directly from the relevant section:

      The US deemed prohibition of alcohol a failure in 1933, after only thirteen years.

      I have been to the States, and enjoyed drinking too much alcohol at Thanksgiving with the brother of my better half, who lives in Massachusetts, so I know it is legal.

      To emphasise how serious the situation south of the US border has become, I link to a current article in the UK’s Independent newspaper: Anger grows over Mexico’s missing as drug cartels turn to human trafficking.

      Entire regions of Mexico have been taken over by heavily-armed criminal groups, which would be officially be designated as terrorist by the US were they Muslim and in the Middle East. These criminal groups effectively run the regions through terror. Their businesses include kidnapping for ransom, slave-trading, extortion, extreme torture and mass murder (including beheading). If those crimes ring a bell it’s because all of them, including taking over vast swaths of a sovereign nation, are given as the very reasons the US is now bombing Iraq and Syria. Why on earth there isn’t more outrage in the US about this is beyond me. I suspect most of the US media is deliberately turning a blind eye to the problem, which is already spilling across the border, despite strict immigration controls.

      The way to stop the illegal immigration, you appear so concerned about, is to help Central America become a place people do not want to flee. Poverty and war are two of the major reasons migrants migrate. Things have been like that since time immemorial. The US is principally founded on vast numbers of the populations of European nations fleeing poverty and hunger. The ability to absorb the dispossessed used to be something Americans were proud of.

      Help solve the most basic problems, and you’ve solved the immigration problem.

      I would much rather debate than argue.

      All the best to you,


      • JF
        October 19, 2014

        Bryan, you misunderstood me. I did not mean that alcohol was illegal in US. I meant that only serious friendly discussion (with good meals and some wine or vodka) could allow to come to agreement on some points.
        At the same time I see that we have too different opinions on many questions. For example, I don’t believe that US must and can help South American nations. The economical situation in US is rapidly deteriorating as half of adults are not working and the country’s deficit is tremendous.
        I am concerned with legal immigration not less than with illegal. It is based on old laws, has no logic and is out of control.
        Let’s stop here. We have different views and different life experiences. Best to you!


      • Bryan Hemming
        October 19, 2014

        If you don’t believe in the US putting efforts into helping Mexico solve its problems directly related to drugs, but you do believe in the US putting efforts into fighting the war against drugs – of which Mexico is the one of the biggest exporters to the US – then I think your arguments need a bit more thinking through. You must see the inherent contradiction in the two positions. Bearing that in mind, I quite understand your desire to stop there, but I would rather stop here.

        I quote your original reply to my comment on The Culture Monk.

        We should not pretend but at the same time we should not take it as normal that there are prostitution and drugs. If we REALLY love people we must PREVENT BOTH using all possible measures. Love and charity without fight against drugs and prostitution only produce more sufferings and more poverty.

        Thank you, for entering the debate, and I sincerely hope you don’t leave it there, but do some further research of your own.

        Enjoy your Sunday! Bryan.


      • JF
        October 19, 2014

        Best wishes to you too! I only wonder how do you know my position re Mexico. I did not say a word about this country.


      • Bryan Hemming
        October 19, 2014

        Please don´t resort to sophistry. Mexico is one of the biggest funnels for drugs and immigrants into the US. If you don’t want immigrants, illegal, or illegal, it’s the best place to start. I only use it as an example. This article is not about immigration or poverty. I thought you wanted to end this; having the last word isn’t the way. Why don’t you start provide some facts to back up your prejudices? As this is my blog, I now call an end to this. No more distractions towards immigration that are just opinions, not backed up by figures or facts, will be tolerated. You are going way off topic, and trying my patience a bit too far. Thank you for your contributions.


  3. Caspar
    June 28, 2014

    Thank you for your effort!
    Seeing respected public figures perpetrating the “war on drugs” gives me physical pain and instills a degree of anger and destructive phantasies in me that have me get scared of myself, startled in face of my emotional reaction. If anything cools me down it is especially the experience that I am not alone, and there are others too, pursuing a rational approach towards psychotropic substances.

    There is something I do not fully agree with, regarding cannabis and “schizophrenia”:
    One of the problems with cannabis and “schizophrenia” is that – especially in teenagers, adolescents and early adults – sometimes apparently healthy individuals with no psychiatric history consume cannabis and subsequently do not get the regular high but instead they become psychotic. This risk of triggering psychotic episodes increases with dosage of THC. A very small percentage of these will even experience recurring psychotic episodes after merely a single exposure to cannabis. (Such a condition with recurring psychotic episodes might then be called schizophrenia, or e.g. schizophreniforme psychosis).

    You write: “The answer is for schizophrenics to be advised of the dangers.”
    That’s certainly helpful for self-aware/diagnosed schizophrenics, but it does not address those (few) that are apparently healthy.

    Admittedly, much more common is the development of such a (possibly chronic) psychosis after a prolonged time of heavy use of cannabis.

    I believe consumption of psychotropic substances will always carry some risk. To mitigate, the general rule to only very slowly increase the dosage should be emphasized. In relation I recently read that in Colorado (and Washington?) there is a significant increase in bad experiences after ingestion of too large doses of cannabis-cookies, -candy-bars, and other ingestable cannabis products. At least some of these products seem to not carry sufficient dosing information, and since the effect takes a long time to set in, either experience or proper guidance is required.


    • Bryan Hemming
      June 28, 2014

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree with your comments in general, but it should be taken into consideration that cannabis is not the only trigger for schizophrenia, and therefore should not be singled out as a reason for not legalising cannabis in the way it is at the moment.

      Cannabis has never been proved to be a direct cause of schizophrenia, but it is widely accepted as being a trigger.

      The condition can also be triggered by alcohol and prescribed drugs. Cocaine and amphetamine based drugs are even more likely to trigger it than cannabis. It must also be remembered that trauma is one of the greatest triggers of all for schizophrenic episodes. Many teenage schizophrenics, who have shown no signs of the condition previously, develop it under the stress of exams, yet we can’t stop everybody from taking exams just because they might cause schizophrenia in some students.

      Legalisation would have to ensure the doses of THC in cannabis were regulated, as they are in alcohol, but I think I explain that in another section of the article, even if I don’t make the point of mentioning schizophrenia in particular.

      It is a very difficult problem but, unfortunately, we cannot design drug and alcohol legislation around minorities, especially when it isn’t possible to predict who fits into the minority group before they are affected.

      I have had quite a lot of experience with schizophrenics, and know how very distressing the condition can be for the sufferers, their families and their friends. Many people find it difficult to accept their nearest and dearest may be going through a schizophrenic episode and go into a state of denial.

      I have also read of the failure of the new laws in Colorado to address the problem of strength of their products. To sell cannabis products containing very high quantities of THC is irresponsible and should be illegal. Alcohol is controlled, and it is required by law to state the alcoholic content of all alcoholic drinks clearly on the front of the container.

      Obviously, more research has to be done into this area. But such considerations cannot be allowed to stop the legalisation of cannabis if the main purpose is to bring a halt to the larger problems caused by it being illegal.

      There is also the matter of age limits. You mention: “…especially in teenagers, adolescents and early adults.” Though I don’t disgree with that, it has to be pointed out it is illegal to sell or supply alcohol to people under eighteen. The same type of law should be applied to cannabis. I believe the laws on alcohol in many American states are stricter than that.

      I hope I have addressed your concerns adequately. It is not an easy subject, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But one thing is certain, it can only be resolved by the type of cool-headed, open discussion we are engaging in.

      Bryan Hemming


  4. Buy Lax'aire Online
    February 19, 2014

    wonderful post and I like it.

    Thanks for nice points.


  5. evelyneholingue
    February 1, 2014

    Thank you for this extremely well researched and documented post. Agree with your points, especially the one about the number of deaths on the road in comparison of overdoses.


    • Bryan Hemming
      February 1, 2014

      Thanks for your input, Evelyne. An article like this does take up a lot of time, especially as I constantly try to update it with new information.

      The winds of change seem to be blowing at last. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of common sense, it will have become obsolete in a decade or so.


  6. PatrickOlila
    January 26, 2014

    Great synopses, completely agree prohibition is complimentary in towards the value of black markets – glad to see people on wordpress in support of legalization. We can expect a boast on Colorado’s tourism sector this year… Hope to see some of you guys there this summer.


    • Bryan Hemming
      January 26, 2014

      Thanks, Patrick. The war on drugs has reached the stage where dramatic changes can be expected in a very short space of time. I reckon you’re right, Colorado’s going to be the place to party this summer, but drugs tourism can have extremely negative consequences.

      We really need people to be able to enjoy themselves in the way they choose, that doesn’t harm others, and without fear of arrest and imprisonment all year round, not just on vacation. I think most tokers want to be free to consume cannabis in their own homes, in their own towns.


  7. Bryan Hemming
    January 25, 2014

    Thanks for your great comments, Noeleen. Much of my writing – even my fiction – is intended to make people look at our world from a different perspective. I get a great deal of satisfaction whenever I manage to achieve that.

    This article has taken a great deal of research and time, and it is still growing with links to relevant articles as well as new editing.

    Looked at the link you provided and it seems like yet another scam.

    Unfortunately, the war against corporate crime has yet to begin, even though massive fraud by big banks is becoming the biggest threat to democracy we have ever seen.


  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    January 25, 2014

    Don’t you just love Enforcement Agencies? Moral enforcement, behavioural enforcement…

    I hadn’t thought of it, but yes, do understand that since his comment drug use & crime have spiralled. Wow. Hindsight.

    Like the comment about being arrested the most dangerous thing.

    I had not realised police chiefs had spoken for decriminalisation. And every little detail you say re alcohol: SO true. THIS MORNING I read a news item where someone in the UK “normally of good character”, drunk, saw a man tying his shoe lace, ran up and kicked his head like it was a football, the man flying back, landing prostrate – head to concrete. Alcohol. Normally good character. Got 4 months good behaviour bond. FOUL.

    Bryan, this is an astonishingly good quality article. I haven’t read all the links, just some (would take a day!).

    What you said re dirty money & casinos, you know, this week I was approached by about some concept where I invest $10K for the OPPORTUNITY to make the money that the bookmakers are making, but thing is, I just can’t get my head around how I make money by giving it to them – why do they need my input, when they’re doing fine without me? I don’t understand it at all. Greed abound. Even to the great great detriment of other human beings.


  9. jlittler
    January 2, 2014

    That is a good synopsis of the issue of illegal drugs and the logical advantages of legalising them.


    • Bryan Hemming
      January 3, 2014

      Thanks for the comment. Hope we see more drug sense in the coming year.


  10. Wesley Coll
    October 30, 2013

    Thanks so much for stopping by at Colltales, Bryan. Also for the very insightful comments. Great blog you have in here; will come back. All the best. Wesley


  11. Dog Kennel New York
    July 17, 2013

    I for all time emailed this web site post page to all my contacts,
    because if like to read it next my friends will too.


    • Bryan Hemming
      July 17, 2013

      That´s great! The next thing I am thnking of doing is having a separate page for many more media links to articles on the war on drugs and the problems it has caused and is causing. It´s difficult to do by myself with so many other projects I am involved in and no finances to support it.

      The media information should come from reliable sources, as much as possible, as one false story can cast doubt on the whole project. L:nks to first hand street stories are particualrly welcome.

      I am also interested in people´s own experiences with drugs as users, sellers or people with drug users in their families or as close friends. Obviously, those people´s identities will be protected. by the use of other names.

      Articles submitted will also be considered for publication.

      But that´s quite some work on it´s own and may take some time to put into place.

      Thanks so much for your support.



  12. Tim Chavez
    January 20, 2013

    Thanks for your work with this blog. What I have read previously piecemeal and thought was the case, I can now look at your research and back it up. I work with a festival in Columbus, OH and we have workshops. “The War on the People for Drug Prohibition” will certainly be on the agenda.


    • Bryan Hemming
      January 20, 2013

      It´s very encouraging to receive input. I´d really love readers to help with any relevant links. At some point I intend to put the long list of links to newspapers on a separate page in the hope it might attract more comments. With all its far-reaching implications this is one of the most important issues facing the world today. Thanks for your comment.


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