In March 1994 The Independent published a series of articles about illicit
drug use, all non-alarmist. Emphasised was that the trade is worth some
billions of pounds a year, that a third or more crime is drug-related, that
current users they tend to be middle class and do not fit the junkie image,
that enforcement policies do not work and that change is necessary.
The leading article was headed "Let's crack the drug economy". It claims
that the present policy is responsible for increasing violent crime without
reducing drug usage. It is bound to continue to fail. The answer is
decriminalisation. Cannabis should be treated in the same way as alcohol.
There is no logical argument for discriminating between the two. Opiate
addicts should be registered and supplied at low price. No mention is made
of hallucinogens and Ecstasy.
In May 1993, the leading article argues for illegal drugs to be licensed.
"The parallel with the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the twenties and
thirties is exact. Slavery apart, no greater mistake was ever made in
America's social history. . . If cigarettes were declared illegal, the
story would be the same: soaring prices, pushers at street corners, addicts
stealing to feed their habit and so on." Commander John Grieve, head of
criminal intelligence at the Metropolitan Police called on the government
to examine whether the supply and use of illegal drugs could be licensed.
"This newspaper, along with The Economist and other publications, has long
advocated the progressive legalisation of drugs."
The Guardian on 14/5/94 quoted Commander John Grieve as saying that
licensing for illegal drugs including Ecstasy should be explored, perhaps
on the basis of licensed cafes in Amsterdam. "Either we go to war with
drugs dealers across the globe, or we have to come up with new options."
About half the members of a working group of senior drugs detectives
supported this view.