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Our Drugs War: Episode 1 - Everyone's at It

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Published on Mar 7, 2011

One in six British citizens have used class-A drugs. Focusing on Scotland - named by the UN as Europe's drug capital - the first episode shows the stark contrast between Edinburgh's rich city centre and its underprivileged estates, where up to 60-70% of the residents can be drug users.

Film-maker Angus Macqueen visits one such estate with two volunteers for drugs charity Crew. They show him how the drug trade operates on a day-to-day basis in front of - and often with the participation of - children, some as young as eight. While all social classes use drugs equally, 70% of addicts have left school by the age of 16 and 85% are unemployed.

The police fail to control supply - in Scotland seizing just one per cent of the heroin consumed - criminals make money, and demand only increases. With the advent of synthetic drugs like GBL, which itself was until recently quite legal and easily available online, banning and policing are becoming ever more random and ineffectual.

Angus meets parents whose children have died as a result of drug abuse. Suzanne Dyer's son Chris died from an addiction to GBL, a compound found in some industrial cleaners and widely used by clubbers. GBL became a popular 'dance' drug when GHB, another similar, and less potent, substance was banned.

John Arthur from Crew, which supported Suzanne Dyer and her son, sees the obsession with the banning and classification of drugs as increasingly irrelevant to what is happening on the streets. John's not alone. Angus speaks to former government drugs advisor Professor David Nutt, who was famously sacked when he began to say in public that present policy is not based on scientific evidence.

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