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Again and again British politicians, commentators and celebrities intone that 'The War on Drugs has failed'. They then say that this is an argument for abandoning all attempts to reduce drug use through the criminal law.
Peter Hitchens shows that in Britain there has been no serious 'war on drugs' since 1971, when a Tory government adopted a Labour plan to implement the revolutionary Wootton report. This gave cannabis, the most widely used illegal substance, a special legal status as a supposedly 'soft' drug (in fact, Hitchens argues, it is at least as dangerous as heroin and cocaine because of the threat it poses to mental health). It began a progressive reduction of penalties for possession, and effectively disarmed the police.
This process still continues, behind a screen of falsely 'tough' rhetoric from politicians. Far from there being a 'war on drugs', there has been a covert surrender to drugs, concealed behind an official obeisance to international treaty obligations. To all intents and purposes, cannabis is legal in Britain, and other major drugs are not far behind.
In The War We Never Fought, Hitchens uncovers the secret history of the government's true attitude, and the increasing recruitment of the police and courts to covert decriminalisation initiatives, and contrasts it with the rhetoric. Whatever and whoever is to blame for the undoubted mess of Britain's drug policy, it is not 'prohibition' or a 'war on drugs', for neither exists.
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About the Author
Peter Hitchens is a British journalist, author and broadcaster. He witnessed most of the final scenes of the Cold War, and was a resident correspondent in the Soviet capital and in Washington, DC. He frequently revisits both Russia and the USA. He currently writes for the Mail on Sunday, where he is a columnist and occasional foreign correspondent, reporting most recently from Iran, North Korea, Burma, The Congo and China. He won the journalism category in the 2010 George Orwell Prize for this correspondence.
Table of Contents
I. The Secret Capitulation \ 1. Cannabis is a Cause \ 2. How to Sink Giggling into the Sea \ 3. Psychiatry is Not an Exact Science \ 4. The Real Purpose of Classification \ 5. No Use Appealing to God. Try John Stuart Mill \ 6. Cannabis and Violence \ 7. What about Alcohol and Tobacco then? \ 8. The Cabinet gets it Wrong \ 9. Enter Richard Crosman \ 10. Jim Callaghan's last Stand \ II. The Search for Soma \ 11. Aldous Huxley \ 12. The Left Casts of its Puritan Garments \ 13. The Mysterious Spread of Cannabis \ 14. Jaggerism is Invented \ 15. Bloomsbury Takes Over Britain via the Airwaves \ 16. Steve Adams Steps Up to Explain \ 17. The Long March-Wootton and After \ 18. Widdicombe Unfair \ 19. Lady Runciman - Who is She? \ 20. Legislation on the Beat - Brian Paddick \ 21. The Great Red Herring - Medical Marijuana \ 22. Freeing Up or Freeing Down \ 23. Some Notes on Harm Reduction and Rehabilitation \ 24. The Demoralisation of Britain