The Politics of Prohibition
In 1928, without debate or second thought, the government of the day made marijuana illegal. Now over 80 years later that ban remains in place, with scant chance of change. With the new government in the UK just six months old, now seems as good a time as any to examine the usefulness of prohibition to governments and politicians.
The questions that surrounded a possible link between marijuana and mental illness seemed to carry more weight, supported as they were by findings in The Lancet medical journal. Yet there are problems with the study. It is a summary of other work rather than a truly original piece and the base figures are low (for instance, a 100% increase sounds a huge amount, but if the starting point is one or two then the jump, in real terms, is minimal).
Another striking example of the government’s refusal to let the facts get in the way of policy came amid the uproar surrounding mephadrone. The inexplicably popular tabloid newspaper The Sun broke a story that the legal high, designed to mimic the effects of cocaine, was the cause of two deaths. Caught in a shitstorm largely of their own making, and unwilling to wait for any hard evidence, Brown and Johnson introduced an emergency ban on mephadrone.