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UK Clubland Faces US Drug War Tactics As New Law Passes

Author: Skruff
Friday, May 18, 2001
British club owners and promoters will be breaking the law if police discover any customers using any drugs on their premises, following the introduction of new US-style anti-drug laws in the UK, the Observer reported last week. "This is aimed at clubs," Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Robin Corbett admitted. "I would welcome any initiative that puts more pressure on people running clubs where young people are at the prey of drug dealers."

The new UK strategy mirrors recent American attempts to criminalise promoters over drugs and was fiercely criticised by UK club owners. "Is this applicable to schools, restaurants and local council buildings-" Billy Reilly, owner of London club The Cross told website "If you find a kid in a classroom with drugs, does the headmaster go to prison- Does the head of Strangeways Prison get arrested if there are drugs found on his premises- The police cannot successfully stop the drug problem. So what they are asking of us is to police it, and be the fall guy. It only takes one person to come in and find one kid with an ecstasy tablet, and I could lose my livelihood and put 40 odd people out of a job. Look what happened to Home."

The new laws followed the recent ecstasy related death of 19 year old Lorna Spinks who died after taking two suspected ecstasy tablets when attending a Cambridge club. Initially hailed as a new 'Leah Betts' (Britain's most famous ecstasy casualty) following her parents' decision to release photos of their dead daughter, her Mother's subsequent reaction rapidly changed the picture. "We know drug-taking is going on in Switzerland in venues like this, there is a chemist who will test the pills," she told the Guardian. "It makes more sense. If Lorna had taken her tablets to be tested, she would still, perhaps, be here." The paper itself concluded; "Every time there is a death, we should ask ourselves if we are really doing all we can to stop it happening. If ecstasy tablets were tested in clubs, would that save lives- Being tough on drugs should not mean being so tough on our children that we inadvertently kill them for being disobedient."

The new UK laws were predicted by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) director Graham Boyd some two months ago, who told Mezz than American authorities have been actively colluding with Tony Blair as part of a globally coordinated strategy. "We have a drug enforcement administration (DEA) office in Johannesburg where we send US government officials to basically lobby the South African government to enact drug policies that are as draconian as our own," he said. "It turns out we do that in countries all over the world and we did it in Britain, too. I find that kind of imperialism absolutely offensive and my fear is that what's happening in New Orleans is something that our Government will trumpet around the world as what other governments should be doing."

Mr Boyd is supporting the case of the New Orleans trio, three club promoters currently facing potential life sentences if they're found to be held responsible for the drug use of some of their patrons. For more on the case, which threatens America's entire electronic music industry, check the website (Fund raising for the new Orleans 3, cash donations also welcomed). (America's number 1 civil liberties organisation) (Harm reduction information site, US) (UK dance news)