Prince William Asks People In Recovery About Legalizing Drugs

By Victoria Kim 09/21/17

One woman suggested that ending drug prohibition would also put to rest the stigma attached to illicit drug use. 

Prince William

The Duke of Cambridge visited people in recovery this week (Sept 19) and used the opportunity to ask them a question he says is best answered by those who have personally struggled with drug or alcohol addiction.

“Can I ask you a very massive question—it’s a big one,” said Prince William while visiting the Spitalfields Crypt Trust, which has provided services for people with addictions for 50 years. “There’s obviously a lot of pressure growing in areas about legalizing drugs and things like that. What are your individual opinions on that?”

These men and women are the “key people” who could help drive the conversation about drug policy, said William. “You guys have seen it and it’s affected your lives in ways I can only imagine, so it’s very interesting to hear that from you. Talking to you and being here, it feels like a question I had to ask.”

One woman, 49-year-old Heather Blackburn, said she thought ending drug prohibition, along with the stigma attached to illicit drug use, was a “good idea.” 

She said that incarcerating drug users only “punishes what you’ve done, not the reasons why” someone may use drugs in a harmful manner. Her point highlights the fact that the criminal justice system doesn’t get to the root cause of “addicts’” behavior—it only creates a cycle of incarceration, while excluding drug offenders from employment and education while drugs continue to infiltrate prisons.

Blackburn noted that drug abuse often stems from “massive trauma.” Criminalizing and discriminating against drug users only exacerbates the issue. Blackburn says the money spent on locking people up for drugs would be better spent on helping them get better. 

Prince William kept his opinions to himself, but Blackburn’s points echo the reasoning of drug policy reform advocates who have long held that drug prohibition of any kind—be it heroin or cannabis—is more harmful than helpful.

Organizations like the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)—previously known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition—enlists current and former law enforcement professionals including police officers, judges, correctional officers and more to speak out against the “War on Drugs.” They believe the drug war is more dangerous than drugs themselves.

Earlier this year, the chairman of LEAP’s chapter in the UK, former undercover narc Neil Woods, was featured in The Independent newspaper for his work fighting the drug war.

“I used to risk my life doing the work because I used to believe I was doing good,” said Woods, reflecting on his 14-year career of hunting down drug dealers. “Now I realize everything I did only caused harm.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr