Clive Bull is Leading Britain's Conversation, including the Health Hour from 9pm
13 May 2017, 21:02
Arfon Jones, a police and crime commissioner in North Wales, this week called for the drug Spice to be legalised and allowed back into shops.
This is the stuff that has people staggering around like zombies, which the papers have recently taken to printing pictures of, having temporarily run out of snaps of Kim Kardashian's bottom.
Arfon Jones knows his patch. He was a policeman of 30 years’ experience and is so Welsh that his name is Arfon and he lives in a place called Gersyllt, a place-name that only a black belt in the Welsh language should attempt to pronounce.
Drawing on his vast experience, he said criminalising the drug, which used to be legal and sold in what hippies used to call ‘head’ shops, had driven its production underground and made it more deadly.
It is pretty much the same story with marijuana, apart from the selling it in head shops part.
The illegal nature of marijuana has directly led to its increasing potency. It is more profitable to sell the stronger stuff, so why would a dealer sell something weaker for less money?
The penalty is the same regardless of its strength, so the law, and basic economics, have conspired to produce grass that is so strong that Willie Nelson is thinking of writing a song about it.
Spice is another thing entirely. It makes skunk seem as powerful as a lime cordial.
It is apparently as addictive as heroin and crack, and costs just £5 per bag.
It has left addicts suffering severe psychotic episodes, hallucinations, vomiting and seizures.
That doesn't sound like a good night out, but the people who are taking it are not doing so for a light relief from their stressful day at work, they are taking it because they want to blot out the life they are leading with the cheapest thing at their disposal.
And like super-strong grass being a result of the underground marketplace, so high potency Spice has been created because there is no regulation on its ingredients and its affects.
Ministers outlawed possession of the drug last year,
That policy is going so well that they have even got a Spice drug problem in prisons.
If you can't keep it out of a secure facility, how are you going to keep it out of Rhyl and Prestatyn, Glasgow and Galashiels?
In Manchester, Spice users are collapsing so frequently that the emergency services are finding it hard to cope.
They say that almost all of the city’s young homeless are hooked on the drug.
I would guess that is because, if you have no home, you have no job, no future and are living outside of our comfortable cappuccino society, you want the least expensive way to pass the day you can get, and a fiver for a joint of Spice that is equal to 100 ordinary marijuana joints would seem to be just the thing.
Towns and cities all over the country have also reported problems with this stuff, and if it isn't round your way yet, just wait, it will be.
Arfon Jones, the police and crime commissioner for North Wales said ‘I believe that the war on drugs was lost many years ago and that we need a new approach to dealing with problematic drug use,’
He said, ‘I have felt for some time that the current prohibitive stance is extremely damaging to individuals and their communities.’
Finally someone with direct experience has spoken.
We can add his voice to the myriad experts who have come to the same conclusion and have spoken on this issue frequently, to whom the government never listens.
There's a war on learning the lessons of the war on drugs.