“Constructing a Humanist Politics”


Issue No 22 Friday 06 February 2009





This week


·        Our Government’s Response To Mexico’s NARCOTERRORISM: Reclassify Cannabis From C To B



What is happening now of interest to Civic Republicanism




·        Our Government’s Response To Mexico’s NARCOTERRORISM: Reclassify Cannabis From C To B


Following a lengthy debate cannabis has been reclassified by the government from a Class C to a Class B drug. This will mean it carries a higher maximum jail sentence for possession


Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said there was "uncertainty at the least" on the future impact on young people's mental health as a result of using cannabis. Therefore she was going to "err on the side of caution and protect the public" by upping the classification level.


In 2004, the then Home Secretary David Blunkett approved the reclassification of cannabis from Class B (which it had been since the 1971 act) to Class C. The move followed a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee and advice from an independent panel of experts - the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).


Mr Blunkett said he hoped the move would free the police to concentrate on more "serious drugs". Advice to forces in England and Wales said possession of the drug in small quantities would normally be dealt with by an informal warning or caution.


In May 2008, however, the current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that she would reverse the 2004 decision and put cannabis back into category B. The move went against the ACMD's latest recommendations, but was, she said, necessary because of research linking heavy use of the drug with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.


In a previous CRN we published a discussion on the disastrous effects of the Drugs Prohibition policy followed by the majority of the world’s nations including Britain. This argument over the classification of cannabis as either a Class B or Class C is really beside the point The important point concerns the criminalisation of all drugs whereby the production, distribution and retailing of one of the world’s  major industries is handed lock, stock and barrel over to the criminal fraternity.


Whereas we may debate the finer points between an B or C classification for cannabis the very fact of it being criminalized is leading to enormous consequences for our society with the development of gangs, knife crime, overflowing prisons, incessant robberies, degradation of individuals and families - the list in endless.


But however bad the effects of Prohibition are in our own society they can pale into insignificance when compared with some other countries. Although most people in Britain are hardly aware of it, Mexico is one such and the United States is becoming increasingly uncomfortable as it southern neighbour is seeing its government loosing its grip on all aspect of the country.


In a November 2008 report on possible global security risks, the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) said the greatest risk of a “rapid and sudden collapse” lay in two places on the planet. One was Pakistan; the other was Mexico.”


“NARCOTERRORISM” the report said,” - that is intimidation and violence by drug traffickers – threatens to bring the country to its knees. According to the USJFCOM report “The Mexican government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and narcotraffic cartels. That translates as “indiscriminate kidnappings, nearly daily beheadings, and gangs that mock and kill government agents.


“Drugs are the key problem – Mexico’s marijuana output rose 44% between 2004 and 2006, with the country now one of world’s top two producers.”


As Mexican cartels take over more and more of the US drug trade, The Mexican government’s attempts to crack down on the barons are failing. Soldiers and police are being outgunned and outnumbered. Drug-related mob murders – mostly unsolved – doubled from 2007 to more than 5,300 last year. Warring cartels using illegally imported American weapons control vast sections of the country. Protection rackets and kidnappings have driven many rich Mexicans to the States.


John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says “if northern Mexico becomes controlled by terrorist mafias – well, we worry about ungoverned spaces far away from the US, and this is right next door.” The US Justice Department said last month that Mexican gangs are the “biggest organised crime threat to the US”.


The US government has also been extremely supportive of the Mexican president, recently handing over $400m in an antidrug aid package called the Merida Initiative, to fight the illegal flow of US weapons and to collaborate in combating drug traffic. But there are seemingly unlimited resources available to the drug cartels to corrupt public officials on both sides of the border.




It is a shameful fact that the United Kingdom is incapable of even beginning to address the problems that Prohibition causes in other countries. The worst problems occur in those countries that are not part of the developed world and happen to be major suppliers of illegal drugs for consumption by people living in the developed world.


Afghanistan is another foremost case in point. Afghanistan produces 80% of the world’s opium used for the manufacture of heroin this trade results in the major part of the income of the Taliban and so is used directly in the killing of British soldiers. As long as the world Prohibition policy continues the war will never be won and British soldiers will be sacrificed for nothing.


The countries of South America, Columbia, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia are the world’s major source of cocaine and are subject to an endless struggle between the government and the organised criminal networks and gangs that control the cocaine trade.


Mexico is the major world producer of cannabis and so in an exactly similar way has become dominated by a level of criminality over which its government has less and less control. The United States in its usual heavy handed fashion can only view the problem in terms of exercising its economic and military might to deal with the problem. The failure of this strategy elsewhere in the world will probably not deter it. We have seen that the new president has shown no interest in scaling back existing failed strategies in Afghanistan or South America.


The fiddling around with the classification of cannabis has to be a prime example of “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. The worldwide problems caused by Drugs Prohibition, whatever drug classification is used must be, addressed. The response to this insane Prohibition policy must be the same as that to the Alcohol Prohibition in 1920’s America.


End it.




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……. …….until next week