re: about time by jon
"...Will it change Government policy? Doubtful..."
If one is of a speculative nature, one can easily imagine that the drugs distribution businesses (read drugs cartels and organised crime) have a hand in maintaining the illegal status of their products. Were it not for the illegality of the goods in which they deal, they'd be sitting on warehouses filled to bursting with potions worth a mere fraction of the billions they are worth as illegal goods. The last I read, the illegal drugs business is globally worth nearly 80bn pounds - that sort of cash has a life of it's own and the people who stand to benefit from that money will take whatever steps are necessary to perpetuate the flow of money. While you can easily see the politicos, law enforcement agents and zealots who speak out about the ills of drug abuse, there is likely an equal, if not larger number of drugs trade figures working invisibly to make sure that society doesn't get too soft on the drugs trade - it's bad for business.
The manufacture, distribution and sale of illegal drugs has been a boon to most governments because it provides ample justification to ratchet up budgets for interdiction, enforcement, prosecution, punishment and treatment of those poor souls who use drugs. It's fair to say that it would be cheaper for most governments, national down to local, to simply purchase drugs for all the folks who want to use than it is to fund all of the bureaucracy that accompanies keeping them illegal and punishable. For them, illegal drugs means more taxes, more police, more prisons, more judges, more seizures of property, more technology, and we all know that more is better, right?
To Mark and Tom - come on lads - inject a spot of common sense into this discussion. Not to say that the drugs you cite aren't harmful in their own right - they are - but honestly, even if they were available at the corner shop, it's their impact on one's ability to perform the activities of daily living that's the real reason they're not used as widely or frequently as alcohol or tobacco. Few of us have the ability to work, participate in social activities, care for our abode, maintain relationships with friends and family and contribute to the community all the while using heroin, ecstasy or methamphetamine.
Both alcohol and tobacco are special cases precisely because they CAN be used in almost any context or situation and therefore both are prone to frequent and chronic overuse. The man or woman who consumes a pack of fags a day, or a half-dozen pints a day certainly wouldn't be able to use most other drugs at the same rate, simply because the other drugs to which your comparing them are far more potent at a single dose level than are alcohol and tobacco. I think it's well established that the real danger associated with both alcohol and tobacco is their long-term use, not the immediate effect on your ability to perform. Although I wouldn't want to give short shrift to the proven ability of alcohol to cloud judgment and impair reactions thereby causing people to do any number of truly and stupendously stupid things like drive, fight and attempt physical feats well beyond their capacity.