Targeting of drug dealers is not the answer – better to criminalise casual drug users

I would like to take this time to commend Edmund Poots MLA (‘Consumption rooms not way forward, says Poots,’ March 8) and the News Letter editorial for publicly calling for more direct action against the drugs trade.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 10:12 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 10:16 pm
Letter to the editor

As the causal usage of various illegal narcotics continues to become more common, the western world is facing a mental health crisis on scale it has never known.

However I would disagree that the increased targeting of drug dealers is the answer. Of course I would welcome more successful prosecutions against drug dealers particularly those who smuggle drugs into prisons. If we are to fight the cancer of drug abuse then the first priority must be to clean our prisons up.

However targeting drugs dealers home and abroad will not make a significant difference to long term levels of drug abuse.

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Drug dealers are supplying a market where there is massive demand.

Where such a lucrative market exists the criminal underworld will always find ways and take risks to supply every manner of necrotic.

Drug education in schools has also proven itself to be an increasingly ineffective deterrent.

Everybody has been taught in school for decades now that drugs are illegal and destroy lives.

Yet it is a message which is failing on increasingly deaf ears.

The only way to deal with this menace is to criminalise causal drug users in a similar way drink drivers were in the 1970s.

A person caught even with the smallest amount of any illegal substance should get one formal warning.

A second offence should result in a mandatory prison sentence.

Another deterrent for the demand for drugs would be to introduce mandatory random drug testing for all public sector employees, including all elected representatives!

Anyone found guilty of consuming illegal drugs should be dismissed and banned for life from ever holding public sector employment again.

Sadly, I fear no action will be taken until the consequences of causal drug abuse become truly impossible to ignore and the damage perhaps irreversible.

Kirk McDowell BSc, Belfast BT5