Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Not the European Vice News You Were Hoping For
Vice Squad is in a better mood today, as opposed to yesterday's
all-night-flight-no-sleep bitter mood. And surely the loyal Vice
Squad reader expects an up-to-the-minute account of Copenhagen's
red light district. Alas, Vice Squad has been unable to locate it,
but the castle in Helsingor (Hamlet's Elsinore) proved less elusive.
But one advantage to being in Europe is that British papers are
readily available on a same day basis. Yesterday's Guardian had its
share of vice news. One article was headlined "Drugs study finds
children aged 11 on heroin and crack." The study looked at 9,000
drug addicts in treatment in the Merseyside and Cheshire areas
The headline is a bit misleading. "There are at least 50 children
under 16 being treated for addiction to drugs in clinics in
Merseyside and Cheshire." But heroin and cocaine use is the
reason for treatment in only one or two of the current cases
involving juveniles. Amphetamines, cannabis, and ecstasy are
the major drug problems for the addicted youths. Of course,
many heavy users and even addicts do not present at clinics
for years after becoming addicted.
Perhaps the main finding of the report is that crack cocaine
use is fairly common in Merseyside, with some half of heroin
addicts at clinics in Liverpool also addicted to crack. This is
a big change from ten years ago, when crack was very
uncommon in Britain and in Europe more generally.
Another Guardian article from yesterday concerns the
adverse environmental impacts of the rapid expansion of
cannabis cultivation in Morocco. (The article is based on a
new UN Office on Drugs and Crime report.) Pot growing is
no longer confined to those parts of Morocco where it has
been cultivated since the 15th century, it seems. And the
EU's attempt to engineer a shift from cannabis to avocado
production has met with Soviet levels of agricultural
In what should be good news to the prison sector, an
earlier UNODC report estimated that 163 million people
worldwide use cannabis.
(Attempts to link the cited articles led to a computer crash.
I will desist, so as not to wear out my welcome at this
splendid Internet cafe.)