A case that could change the history of drugs and humanity

A case that could change the history of drugs and humanity

Posted On: September 19, 2011
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Casey Hardison is serving 20 years in prison for the manufacture of LSD, 2CB and DMT.  He has spent the last 7 years behind bars examining the legislation that was used to jail him.  And has come up with findings powerful enough to win a hearing in the High Court later this year.

At his trial, Hardison defended himself on grounds of cognitive liberty i.e. that people should be allowed to alter their own states of consciousness provided they do not harm others when doing so. The judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison.  The same week, a man convicted of manufacturing ricin with intent to kill was given 17 years.

Upon hearing Hardison’s cognitive liberty defence argument, Judge Anthony Niblett said to him ‘show me the black letters of the law’.  As Hardison now says “That’s the most important thing that a judge ever said to anyone who was actually listening.  I’ve had all the time in the world, because I’m in prison, to sit here and pick this thing apart.  Word by word.  I’ve gone over and over those black letters of the law.  “Hardison is perhaps oddly complimentary about the construction of the Act that apparently sealed his fate.  “When I started reading the [Misuse of Drugs] Act I realised how beautifully constructed it was and that it could in fact regulate people with respect to any dangerous or otherwise harmful drug.  It has a very intricate set of mechanisms that do not require Prohibition as it’s commonly known and thought of around the world. The Misuse of Drugs Act is very flexible”.

Over the last seven years, Hardison has been in a Freedom of Information exchange with the Home Secretary and the ACMD separately on the issue of why alcohol and tobacco are not regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act. “I keep getting things back from them saying things like ‘oh yes we can’t put them in the Act because that would mean Prohibition’.  Well that meant clearly to me that they didn’t understand the Act.  Over time, I managed to evolve both the statements of these departments by honing in my requests and they conceded in 2010 finally that the Act has jurisdiction over the dangerous drugs alcohol and tobacco and that the ACMD should actually be paying attention to alcohol and tobacco.”

What Hardison has focused on is the way the Act was constructed versus the way it has been implemented.

This is a summary of his arguments:

* The Misuse of Drugs Act requires the government to legislate appropriately where drugs are misused and that misuse is having ‘harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem’

* Alcohol and tobacco are both drugs which, according to Government, can be misused and are clearly having ‘harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem’.  Yet the government refuses to take steps, under the Act, to regulate those who produce, commerce and consume them

* The Misuse of Drugs Act does not legislate for ‘Prohibition’; though that is a policy option. Rather, the Act legislates for regulation of actions in relation to dangerous drugs, appropriate to the drug, the person, the place, and the circumstance, in question (see Section 31 in conjunction with Sections 7, 10 and 22)

* The Misuse of Drugs Act requires the Government to legislate on drugs, in conjunction with the ACMD – a body made up at least of scientists and those intimately familiar with the ‘drug problem’

* The Misuse of Drugs Act does not make drugs illegal – it makes the behaviour of people with respect to (some) drugs illegal

* The only drug it is illegal to use is opium.  Use of any other drug is not illegal

*The Misuse of Drugs Act does not ‘prohibit’ drugs.  It legislates for regulation of possession, supply, cultivation, manufacture, import and export of some drugs.

The part of Casey’s arguments that have been granted an Oral hearing relate to the lack of proper control from the Home Secretary and the ACMD in relation to alcohol and tobacco and their unwillingness to even consider that possibility.   Please read the detail of the case yourself and circulate it so that more people are aware of what is potentially a landmark in the history of drugs and humanity.

As Hardison himself points out, the implications of his findings are huge: ” the Home Secretary has entire power to bring say alcohol and tobacco into the Misuse of Drugs Act and create regulations that allow them to be sold over the counter, that allow them to be sold in bars, that allow them to be sold in stores … and you could do that with any drug.  You could actually go into Boots and order your cocaine lawfully provided the Home Secretary made adequate regulations.  So it dawned on me, this whole idea of the Blueprint for Regulation that Transform Drug Policy Foundation has could be implemented today.  All that is required is a couple of statutory instruments, put them before Parliament, Parliament approves, it’s taken off to privy council, the Queen puts her stamp on it and ta-daa, we now have a regulated drug market.  A proper regulated market. And we could have that today with just two sections of the [Misuse of Drugs] Act.”

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Charlotte Walsh,  law lecturer at Leicester University will present Casey’s arguments at the forthcoming conference After the ‘war on drugs’: Envisioning a Post Prohibition World taking place in London on 16th and 17th September.

Transform Drug Policy Foundation will also speak at the conference on their research into how a regulated drug market could work.

 

Tickets are available from http://postprohibitionworld.eventbrite.com

For further information on Casey Hardison’s story go to http://www.freecasey.org

A note on language and Know Drugs:  Casey’s findings are the reason why we put the terms ‘legal drugs’, ‘illegal drugs’ and ‘war on drugs’ in quotation marks elsewhere on this site.  This is to indicate that these terms are erroneous since it is the behaviour of people with respect to drugs that is legislated upon, not the drugs themselves.    The correct terminology for ‘illegal drugs’ is (ironically) controlled drugs – because these drugs are controlled and classified into classes A, B and C.   The ‘War on Drugs’ should more accurately be called ‘The war on some people who use some drugs’.