Note by Sir Keith Morris relating to the
evidence of 11 December
At the end of the hearing Mr Byrne (HM Customs)
made a very important point. He mentioned that senior Colombian
officials had expressed concern about possible changes to British
policy on cannabis. I am sure that such concerns are widely held
not only by Colombian officials but those of other producer and
transit countries. Their fear is that decriminalisation (either
formal or informal) of drugs would lead to an increase in consumption
and a decrease in the aid they receive from the consumer countries
to fight the drugs trade. This fear is in my view well founded
because the former would be very likely to happen and the latter
would be a real possibility.
Legalisation of drugs is another matter altogether.
I have long known that many senior Colombian politicians privately
favoured such an outcome. This was confirmed during a visit I
made in November, the first since my own views has been much publicized
there following my Guardian article of 4 July. Almost everyone
I met raised the subject with me. All thanked me for having made
clear the cost that Colombia was paying in the drugs war. All
but one then took exactly the same line. Legalisation of drugs
was the only solution to Colombia's long-running internal conflict.
The case for it had to be made in the consumer countries. Colombians
could not do it. Most left unsaid the reason why. They would be
denounced in Washington as soft on drugs. Those who spoke thus
included people at the most senior level in government, the central
bank, the political parties and the private sector. Their public
duties and/or their public stand mean that their lives are daily
at risk from the drugs traffickers and the three illegal groups
of extreme left and right which draw their principal funding from
the trade. Their views deserve to be taken into account.