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  End of 'Just Say No' Drugs War
Posted by FoM on March 03, 2002 at 17:18:35 PT
By Liam McDougall, Home Affair Correspondent 
Source: Scotland On Sunday 

justice Jack McConnell is dramatically to abandon the Scottish Executive's 'Just Say No' stance on drug abuse after admitting it has failed to halt the rising tide of addiction.

In a major policy U-turn, the First Minister will give the go-ahead to a strategy geared instead towards helping young people make 'informed decisions' about drug taking.

The controversial step, condemned by some anti-drug campaigners, will be unveiled later this month with the launch of the Executive's drugs communication strategy. McConnell will underline his commitment to making quality drugs information and advice available throughout the country.

The surprise move represents the first public acknowledgement that the hard-hitting 'Just Say No' and 'war on drugs' rhetoric pursued by consecutive governments of differing political hues has done nothing to reduce the number of illicit drug users in Scotland.

The policy reversal comes amid growing alarm in Labour ranks at the spiralling number of drug users and drug deaths. The latest research suggests there are as many as 55,000 people in Scotland misusing illegal drugs such as heroin and methadone – almost twice as many as previously estimated – while drugs claim the lives of more than 290 each year.

A survey last month also added to McConnell's embarrassment after it revealed that at least 40% of schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 15 had been offered drugs.

It is understood the new strategy, although nationwide, will focus on 'grassroots', giving local communities access to 'consistent and comprehensive' drugs information through a leaflet and advertising campaign.

Scotland on Sunday has learned the new approach had been prompted by research which shows that despite the millions pumped into reducing drug use there is still ignorance about the issue.

It is expected the study will indicate that although 98% of Scots see drugs as a "very serious" or "serious" problem, few are aware of the variety and risks of the drugs that are circulating.

It will also highlight the urgent need to reassess the "earlier messages" put out by government towards a less authoritarian campaign to reduce drug use.

An Executive source said: "It is pretty clear that the 'Just say no' types of messages have not had any effect. They are not leading young people to try to find out more information about drugs, which is the best way of preventing them from taking drugs and to ensure they are informed about the dangers."

However, news of the radical shift has infuriated anti-drug groups and parents of addicts, who have accused the Executive of condoning drug use.

Maxie Richards, who runs a drug rehabilitation charity, accused the Executive of being "pro-drugs".

She said: "This amounts to saying to young people that taking drugs is an acceptable way of living. It's a misinformed message and it's the wrong message. It encourages people to think they can take drugs, and it will cause havoc in our society. It's pro-drugs. This is telling people there is such a thing as safe drug use. Things can only get worse through this course of action."

Gaille McCann, co-founder of the group Mothers Against Drugs, warned that the strategy could encourage drug-taking.

"The Executive needs to be very careful with its message. They are in danger of promoting drug use, which opens up more avenues for people to experiment with drugs."

"It's all very well the Executive saying they want to put out leaflets, but young people aren't interested in reading them. The ones who really need the help are not at school to pick up the leaflets and don't access health services. The Executive should be training young people to give that information to other young people on the street. No leaflet is going to address the problem."

The Tory Home Affairs spokesman Lord James Douglas-Hamilton said: "Young people who are very impressionable need to be protected against dangerous substances. Any weakening of the stance on drugs is unacceptable."

But the agencies on the Executive communications committee defended the moves. David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said: "The new approach will get rid of the 'drugs war' rhetoric which tends to polarise the debate. We are very encouraged by what is being proposed. We have always taken the view that the notion of a drugs war is not the right way to tackle the problem.

"Drugs are a problem that has continued to grow and are something we are going to have to learn to live with. The notion of trying to rid society of all drugs is clearly ridiculous," Liddell said.

Jack McConnell, First Minister, prefers to target young people with a strategy to help them make informed decisions rather than to preach to them.

Source: Scotland On Sunday (UK)
Author: Liam McDougall, Home Affair Correspondent
Published: March 3, 2002
Copyright: 2002 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.

Related Article:

Ministers Declare 'War on Drugs' is Over

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Comment #6 posted by Jose Melendez on March 04, 2002 at 04:38:57 PT:

thanks Lehder
Thanks for posting the anecdotal reference below. I started reading biochemistry again after reading here in about caryophyllene oxide (a sesquiterpene that drug dogs "indicate" on, and is present in cannabis and sage, as well as lemon balm)

I don't get how the whole thing works yet, nut from what I can see, legal drugs work nearly identically to THC, but cause liver damage and other problems. The biochem book also points out that LSD and Prozac also work in similar ways (LSD by simulating seratonin, and Prozac by blocking it, in turn stimulating seratonin production...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by Lehder on March 03, 2002 at 19:39:24 PT
one of millions who benefits from cannabis
In fact, I credit marijuana with showing me the deep truth-beauty of what I was being taught. After learning about quantum mechanics during the week, a marijuana-aided reflection on the topic could be profoundly inspiring! So much so that it was during this transition period of my usage style that I decided I would get a PhD in chemical engineering. Moreover, it was actually while I was high that I decided this! Before this transformation, I was complacently heading toward a bachelor’s degree followed by an immediate entry into the job market. Now my goal is to teach and conduct research at the university level - a career that I think will be many fold more satisfying for my personality, and I credit marijuana for helping me come to terms with this. I had never considered this option viable until marijuana forced me to ask, “Why the hell not?” I love learning about our universe and to simply stop at a bachelor’s degree, as my parents advised, would have been an unfulfilling choice for me. Now, as a graduate student, I am happily exploring the frontiers of human knowledge! Hopefully this anecdote helps to dispel the myth that marijuana makes you stupid and unmotivated....

The truth is that cannabis benefits many millions of people in many ways. But don't worry - I'm not going to put you into a prison for not smoking it.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by Lehder on March 03, 2002 at 19:20:42 PT
The truth is...
This is telling people there is such a thing as safe drug use.

It's about time. The truth is that cannabis really is a safe...herb, not a drug. And millions of people find its effects very beneficial:

"It really puzzles me to see marijuana connected with narcotics . . . dope and all that crap... it's a thousand times better than whiskey - it's an assistant - a friend." - Louis Armstrong

It sure beats Zoloft. That drug stars in some TV commercials and comes with side effects 'that may include' diarrhea, sleepiness and insomnia. That's right, a drug advertised for depression and pushed for profit on TV can cause sleepiness and insomnia. Cannabis has only one negative side effect - prison. What a beautiful world.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Jose Melendez on March 03, 2002 at 18:26:42 PT:

And the point is
"Look, people get drunk," the president said after a Jack Anderson column regaled readers with a graphic account of Ambassador Arthur Watson's behavior on a March 1972 flight to Washington. "People chase girls. And the point is, it's a hell of a lot better for them to get drunk than to take drugs. It's better to chase girls than boys."

"Now that's my position and let's stop this crap," Nixon declared at a March 14, 1972, Oval Office meeting with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. "Understand?"

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by mayan on March 03, 2002 at 18:18:34 PT
Truth Over Lies
This is telling people there is such a thing as safe drug use.

On the contrary, I believe that this new approach will educate people with the truth. I'll take truth over lies anyday. Sorry anti's.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on March 03, 2002 at 17:36:49 PT:

Arrest Prohibition
"The harm done by a criminal record is greater than the harm caused by a few years of experimental drug use."

- Dutch drug expert Bob Keizer

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