Tory pandering on drugs policy prevents serious discussion

The appointment of hardliner Dr Hans-Christian Raabe to the AMCD risks further damaging government drug policy, writes Matt Owen.

Consistent with what seems to be the cross-party approach of denying the intrusion of rationalism into the debate on UK drug policy, the coalition has recently announced the appointment of hardliner Dr Hans-Christian Raabe to the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs). As well as being a lifelong Christian who laments some of the side-effects of “the homosexual lifestyle“, and spies – with what would appear to be trademark insight – “an overlap between the gay movement and the movement to make paedophilia acceptable”, Raabe is absolutely committed to the policy of drug prohibition.

Seemingly oblivious to the reams of evidence showing that the ‘war on drugs’ has utterly failed, Raabe believes that a harder line on prevention is all that’s needed.

He holds firm to his “ideal of a drug-free society” – something which has never, ever existed, not in thousands of years of human history – and believes that the best way to bring such an ideal to life may well be through “re-establishing Christian values in society”.

Where others adopt the foolish tactic of showing, through scientific method, that the legal regulation of drugs represents “a sensible, pragmatic approach to control drug production, supply and use”, Raabe advocates a focus on prevention through the use of two things: Church and marriage.

Presumably, while on the ACMD, he will be able to tolerate the UK spending £16 billion a year on a ‘war’ it will never win, while providing criminal networks (not least the Taliban in Afghanistan) with huge profits, as long as he can persuade a few more heroin addicts to open a bible.

While it is obviously important for any advisory body to contain a range of opinions, Raabe is being described as – to quote an expert in the drugs field speaking to The Guardian – “the first overtly political candidate to be appointed to the ACMD”. It would appear that the government, or more specifically the Tories (Raabe’s appointment was made by James Brokenshire, the Conservative MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup and Minister for Crime Prevention), are deliberately pandering to voters on the right by appointing such a hard-liner.

Apparently, they are willing to sacrifice sensible, rational debate if it means a more compliant ACMD (the last thing they need is another David Nutt daring to speak the demonstrable truth about drugs in this country) and some cheers from the British right.

Indeed, it’s little surprise that the Daily Mail – which recently outdid itself on drug-related scare-mongering, when the deluded Peter Hitchens blamed the recent killing spree in Arizona on the “dangerous and unpredictable poison”, marijuana – reacted to Raabe’s appointment with a headline beginning “Hallelujah!

“What lower depth of abject failure must a policy plumb before it comes up for review?” asked The Observer, of UK drugs policy, in a recent editorial. A far lower one would seem to be the answer, if Raabe’s appointment is anything to go by.  As long as the government is willing to take advice from a man whose answer to £16bn in ineffectual police spending and 2,182 related deaths a year is marriage and prayer, this failure of a policy will become increasingly abject with every passing day.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.