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We treat drug users very differently depending on their social class. We need to ask ourselves, why?

All drugs should be legalised and their production and distribution should be regulated and taxed

By on Friday, 13 December 2013

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted using cocaine during two periods of her life (PA)

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted using cocaine during two periods of her life (PA)

Here are two stories from today’s Daily Telegraph about drugs. The first concerns someone who is at the bottom of the social scale, the second one who is near its top.

Daniel Severn is a self-confessed heroin addict. He has had numerous convictions over the last few years, and has been recently convicted for burglary, having been caught after getting stuck in a bathroom window. It seems that Daniel, aged 27, is not very good at crime, and indeed is one of life’s losers. He has been through the system time and time again: he has 80 previous convictions including a previous one for burglary in 2009 for which he received an 18-month suspended prison sentence. He has turned to burglary in order to finance his heroin habit, one assumes.

Why are we wasting our time, and the tax payer’s money, in dealing with this young man thus? For one thing is clear: the system is not working in his case. Just consider – 80 convictions – and he still can’t learn his lesson. Will any amount of convictions cure him? I doubt it. What Daniel needs, for his own sake, and for the sake of society, is treatment for his drug addiction.

Now consider the case of a member of the tellystocracy (as the great Jilly Cooper dubbed them), Miss Nigella Lawson. Miss Lawson has been the object and focus of much sympathy of late. Her drug use, which is not disputed (though the extent of it is), is in a completley different class to the drug use of Daniel Severn. At least that is the impression one gets. No one is thinking of imprisoning her.

Many readers take exception to my position that all drugs should be legalised and their production and distribution should be regulated and taxed. This seems to me the best way to deal with the drugs problem, by taking the production and distribution of drugs away from criminals, and by treating it as a medical and social problem rather than a criminal one. People who think the present position of complete prohibition should be maintained, might like to consider the paradox outlined above. We treat Nigella one way and Daniel another. Why?