Scotland Yard Chief Says Legalize It

One of Britain's most senior police officers has joined the legalization chorus. Chief Superintendent Anthony Wills, borough commander of Hammersmith and Fulham in London, called for the government to take over the drug trade since it cannot stop it.

In an interview with the Hammersmith and Shephards Bush Gazette last week, Wills said even hard drugs, such as crack cocaine and heroin, should be legalized. "I would have no problems with decriminalizing drugs full stop," said Mr Wills. "There have to be very stringent measures over the production and supply of drugs, and we have got to remove the drug market from criminals. I do not want people to take drugs, but if they are going to, I want them to take them safely, with a degree of purity and in a controlled way."

Wills repeated his insistence that he was not promoting drug use. "I am not saying people should take drugs. They are very bad for you, but the reality of the world we live in is this: If people want to get drugs, they can get them. Drugs are a fact of life, and you cannot eradicate them," Wills said. "My only concern is to increase the safety of the community and not to allow these ghastly people to make a fortune out of other people's misery."

Wills, a 30-year veteran who commands more than 2,000 officers, said that no matter how harsh drug laws are, they are doomed to failure. "There are some places where people are beheaded if they sell drugs, but even this does not stop the trade."

And enforcing the cannabis laws is a waste of police resources, Wills added. "I am very liberal in relation to possession of drugs," he said. "Policing cannabis is a waste of our time, as I do not feel the effects of cannabis are any worse than over-consumption of alcohol."

Wills may have joined the growing number of high police and government officials who have gone off the reservation on drug policy, but the Blair government remains steadfast. "All controlled drugs are harmful and will remain illegal," the Home Office noted tersely in response to Wills' remarks. "The Government's drug strategy focuses on the most dangerous drugs as the misery they cause cannot be underestimated. We have not seen the interview and so cannot comment on it."

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