Thursday, June 08, 2006

Flip-flop on "intent to supply"

According to reports in the last 12 hours, the government has performed a bizzare and quite dramatic flip-flop on it's "how much is just possession" guidelines. For those that can't remember, when Charles Clarke was Home Secretary there was a floated rumour that the quantity if drugs one could carry without being charged with "intent to supply" were going to be increased. The increases were utterly ludicrous. It was something like 20oz of weed and 20 pills. There is no way someone could carry that quantity and not be planning on supplying others - even if they were off to Glastonbury for the weekend - they're be dead if they did the lot.

This time round the Government has gone to the other extreme and is saying that less that 1/4oz of pot and 5 pills will qualify as "intent to supply". David Davis has apparently said this is a "move in a sensible direction", in my opinion (in relation to pot at least) he's wrong. It's not sensible at all. Firstly it's going to line the pocket of the big dealers even more. If you make it "intent to supply" for people carrying less than £20 worth of pot you're going to drive the price of small quanitities up. Like any market, the more you buy the cheaper it becomes, that's why people like students buy pot by the ounce rather than buy the 1/8oz. The potential risk associated with buying larger quantities will not stop them getting stoned, they'll just buy small amounts more regularly. The result is greater profits for the dealer. As for the question of pills, personally I don't have a problem with it being 5, I always assumed it was less than that anyway. I'm aware of former aquaintances that have been charged for less.

It seems to me that the Government, and political parties in general, whilst quite rightly trying to tackle the drug problem fail to realise the nature of the market underneath. Yes, addiction is hell, it causes crime and ruins lives. But prescritpive gudielines on how much you can and can't have won't solve the problem.

Before anyone asks, I had a normal university experience.


UK Daily Pundit said...
9 Jun 2006 09:30:00  

Can't agree on this one, Dizzy. They must have been stoned themselves when they came up with the original figures (maybe Howard Marks was advising them) but the revised figures, if we must have a soft approach at all, seem about right.

dizzy said...
9 Jun 2006 09:38:00  

fair enough, I don't deny that I'm a bit of a libertarian when it comes to drug policy (although I don't go as far as suggesting legalisation).

To be perfectly honest I don't see what's wrong with the current status which - as I understand it - is very much based on local police decision about the circumstances of the possession. i.e. some student with 1/2oz is probably not a dealer, whereas some guy in BMW with 1/2oz separated into eight little bags is.

The problem with formalising limits that qualify between possession and intent to supply is that you actually send out the message that "it's ok to have x amount of drugs" and you simultaneously remove the demarcation that cirucmsatnces dictate in deciding charges and case (which is the same in most other crimes too).

Croydonian said...
10 Jun 2006 12:50:00  

I am firmly in the legalisation camp, not that that is particularly interesting. Meanwhile, isn't it rather wonderful that narcotics are purchased in Imperial measurements? is a participant in the Amazon Europe S.à.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to