Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs (PALAD) is a national voluntary organisation, based in North Wales, campaigning for improved drug policies. We began as an informal group of parents concerned about the drug problems faced by our children today. We were shocked by the government's Home Affairs Select Committee report Government Drugs Policy: Is it Working? when it stated that "Legal drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, are responsible for far greater damage both to individual health and to the social fabric in general than illegal ones". Could this really be true? If it is then surely this can only be the case because there are so many more people taking the legal drugs than the illegal ones? We decided to examine all recent government reports to find out what was really going on.

The evidence from government reports has forced us to make a U-turn in our own thinking about drug dangers. We had to overcome our own prejudice before we could accept the evidence. There can no longer be any doubt that tobacco is the most dangerous drug both in terms of addictiveness and likelihood of causing death. 80% of tobacco smokers start before the age of 16 and 50% of all tobacco addicts will be killed by their addiction. Even passive smoking kills as many as heroin. Alcohol is also more dangerous than the illegal drugs. Many of the dangers of illegal drugs really do seem to stem from the fact that they are illegal and so unregulated, with no consumer protection (quality/quantity control, health warnings etc). Reluctant though we were initially we now accept that cannabis should be legalised. Cannabis stands out as considerably safer than other recreational drugs by any standard, especially if taken without smoking. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, whose legal duty is to advise Government about drug dangers, says "the high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society."

PALAD believes that anyone examining the government's evidence will conclude that our drug laws do not encourage the use of the safest drugs while discouraging the use of the most dangerous. Legal drugs are clearly just as dangerous as illegal ones. So what do we tell our children now when they ask "why are some drugs illegal?" ?

If you are concerned about the drugs problem but worried by cannabis then we urge you to check the online government documents yourself and find out the truth. As our children receive better drug education these days you can be sure that the truth will find them.

We support North Wales police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom's view that illegal drugs should be properly regulated as legal drugs are.

A fair and rational drugs policy would:

  1. INTEGRATE illegal and legal drug policies since all drug use may cause harm.
  2. DISCRIMINATE instead between reasonably safe use, use harmful to user and use harmful to others.
  3. TOLERATE reasonably safe use.
  4. EDUCATE against harm to users.
  5. LEGISLATE only against harm to others.
  6. ELIMINATE unjustifiable barriers to fair trade.