Monday, 9 April 2012

Dear Anonymous, Please don't be the Leeroy Jenkins of drug policy reform.

I read with concern that the online activist organisation "Anonymous" have chosen to initiate a cannabis legalisation campaign on the very same weekend that the Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina, has made the most nuanced, sophisticated argument for reform to come from a head of state in my time as a drug policy reformer

I am concerned because your unelected group of activists, while no doubt meaning well, do not present the same nuances, nor do you possess enough understanding, of the options for reform or the potential harms of the drug of which you speak.

One of the "hysterical anti-cannabis campaigners" some liberalisers describe turns out to be in fact be a "good liberal" psychiatrist persuaded by the steady accumulation of evidence that the links between cannabis and psychosis are real: (from 17:50). Like so many medicines both ancient and new, cannabis is a dangerous drug AND a medicine and needs to be regulated as such.

So Anonymous, you are wrong to say that cannabis is not a dangerous drug. You may also be quite wrong in your mode of activity. Phase 1 appears to be completely benign, though it will likely be an unhelpful display to the rest of society that the usual suspects support cannabis "legalisation". I am also very uneasy that "Phase 1" hints at further phases of Anonymous activity. With the US government being presented with the best arguments for reform by Latin American leaders in the near future, we really do not need them to be distracted by stunts in support of the poorer, tired, traditional arguments for reform. History is littered with instances of acts and campaigns that piss off enemies delaying indefinitely the eminently reasonable changes the acts were meant to bring about. I'm pretty sure the Falklands would be the Malvinas by now if the Argentinians hadn't invaded in the 80s. And Osama bin Laden was trying to get American troops to LEAVE the Middle East when he started his campaign of terror. I'm not comparing you guys to Osama bin Laden. I'm just saying that, if Phase 2 or 3 involves being dicks in the eyes of the government just because you can, then that kind of stuff tends not to work the way it's intended.

If you want to push the "free the weed" agenda, you would be much better off drawing attention to the moderate arguments for gradual reform. Once we have achieved the strict control and regulation of legally available cannabis, then the argument on whether to regulate lightly or continue strict regulation can begin.

And apologies for the Leeroy Jenkins line. It was a crude attempt to speak your language. Hell, I can't even be bothered embedding links (did I even say that right?)

And please don't take this as an attack. It's a plea for you guys to be a help rather than a hindrance. We're so close to achieving our shared goal.

Best wishes,