The logic of prohibition

There’s a report on the BBC which says “a senior police officer has joined calls for heroin to be made available on the NHS to help tackle an explosion in crack cocaine use. Cleveland Police Det Supt Tom Stoddart said heroin is a “gateway” to crack. He said by prescribing heroin in a controlled environment on the NHS it would destroy the market for dealers.”

This has been criticised by the director of the National Drug Prevention Alliance Peter Stoker as like giving alcoholics more drink in order to stop them going on to take drugs. Well, superficially that’s a compelling argument. But surely what the police officer is saying is that by prescribing heroin, that is taking its control out of criminal gangs. Second, sure giving out heroin may not stop you go onto use heroin, but examples of drug control like prescription have worked such as the coffee shops in the Netherlands in reducing drug use, so why not trial the suggestion and evaluate its benefit? Thirdly, the comparison with alcohol is false because alcohol is a legal drug. Maybe we should to be scientific though, ban alcohol, and see what happens?