The newspapers report this morning that the government had banned importation of a plant called “qat”. It is now a Class “C” drug and, presumably like all Class “C” drugs carries a maximum of 14 years in prison for cultivation or importation.
The banning of this plant and the subsequent criminalisation of another section of the population is against the advice of the government’s own drug advisory committee.
The reason for labeling it as a “dangerous substance” is because other European countries have banned it. They don’t, however, have our crazy policy of locking up in prison everyone for 14 years or seizing all their assets.
Remember in school when you were told “don’t just copy him; think for yourself; he could be wrong?"
The importers of this plant paid £2.8 million in Value Added Tax to the government last year. The government were happy to take the money last year, and the year before, and the year before. The plant has not suddenly mutated into some lethal form.
Our government has a bad does of “criminalitis” – an obsessive compulsive condition that requires it to brand everyone a criminal.
Speaking of which: a middle-aged lady who is a pillar of the community told me this story the other day.
She reversed out of her driveway and as she engaged first gear and drove off began fastening her seat belt. A passing policeman in an unmarked car saw her and chased her for a mile along Llandudno promenade. When he pulled her over he was obnoxious and sarcastic. Obviously he was going to give her a ticket. In the back of the car were some food packages that she was delivering to some elderly people. The policeman phoned her insurance company to ask if she was insured to carry commercial products. Technically she was not.
The police intervention has resulted in a criminal prosecution for driving “without insurance” and as a consequence the insurance company has revoked her cover making it now very difficult for her to get any kind of motor insurance or to help the old folk.
Do the police consider this is a worthwhile use of their time and the expensive resources with which the public have furnished them? Remember the concept of “policing with the consent of the public”?