Using the law to send messages is problematic

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From: JG Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

THE drugs issue (Yorkshire Post, December 10) is a salutary reminder of how ineffectual families and schools can be at equipping young people to resist malign influences, whether from commercial advertising or from peer pressure to smoke, drink, take drugs or have unwanted or unprotected sex.

You warn against sending the wrong message by legalising softer drugs, and also against a possible slide towards decriminalising harder ones. But the logic is that any change of stance should apply across the board, precisely to avoid the impression of endorsing some. There is also a problem with using the law for message sending; in practice this makes whipping boys of some unfortunates in a possibly vain attempt to keep others on the straight and narrow.

There is humbug on all sides here. The Government would have anxious and ignorant parents believe that it is standing firm against drugs. Yet at street level a de facto decriminalisation of possession appears already to have been established. The attempt to curb supply while relaxing control on demand in this way is economic illiteracy.

The Home Affairs Committee seems to favour switching resources from enforcement to treatment, but why would you legalise something which users will then need to be rescued from?

The philosophical basis for legalising drugs has always been “do your own thing (man)”. There is some merit in this, but why would it not apply equally to tax payers? They should be free to spend their money on doing their own thing, not have it taken from them to help others whose chosen thing was predictably self-destructive. Why should we find ourselves lacking the moral authority to forbid drug abuse but still having a moral responsibility to pick up the pieces? The choice is whether we treat people as adults or as children. The preferred option seems to be to indulge them as spoilt and unruly children.