RE: @Matt Bryant
"....Whatever organised crime exists today directly relating to alcohol is tame compared to the violence of Al Capone's prohibition era....." An extreme comparison, but also a flawed one. Violent crime in the UK already exceeds that of Prohibition-era USA. Whilst the UK does not have the dramatic spikes of such events as the Valentine Day Massacare, gang-related murders in places like London, Manchester and Nottingham already exceed the average levels of cities like Chicago during the period. Those gangs in the UK are fighting turf wars over many issues, including who gets to supply weed. But then there is another gaping hole in your argument.
That's because organsied crime in the form of the US mafia families were forced to move onto other areas of criminality to maintain the profit levels they had grown to require after the end of Prohibition. The reason they had to was because there was a very capable and ready system to legally supply alcohol just waiting for the end of Prohibition, which made their continued presence in the alcohol supply market relatively unprofitable. In fact, the majority of the illegal alcohol supplied by Al Capone and co was from legal sources in Canada, and not DIY alcohol produced in illegal stills, becuase the large customer base was also discerning and did not like the poor taste or the idea of the medical risks of moonshine (Capone's key "imports" were branded Canadian whiskey and French champagne!). In comparison, the UK weed market is the exact opposite - a minority, with very little evident concern for medical issues or the sources of their suppliers, and without a large commercial supplier ready to step in in the event of over-night legalisation, which means the current illegal suppliers and organised crime will still be around and keen to make an illegal profit, and just as keen to fight for it.
"....Like many, you have some kind of egalitarian attitude concerning drug use...." If you mean I think all drugs are equally bad then my answer is no, but I don't make the decision on how bad they are and if they are illegal. It's up to the elected politicians to make the laws and the courts to apply punishment after the Police uphold those laws. If you don't like that then vote for a party that promises to legislate weed and/or ecstasy. The problem for you is that none of the major parties want to legalise either because it only appeals to the minority. An example of just how suicidal politicians view legalisation is the speed with which Alan Johnson sacked Dr Nutt when he went offside. You may say that is because the majority are ill-informed, but you're not doing a good job of convincing anyone.
"....but ignore the consequences of criminalisation. i.e British bobbies running around with H&K MP5s...." Just think about that for a second - the coppers are armed becasue they expect to meet armed criminals. The Police have limited budgets and only arm officers because they have to, they do not turn out armed to the teeth for fun. If they are turning up to raid drug dealers with MP5s then it's because those very people you chose to defend are also willing to kill and are armed to do so. So, you basically just underlined the violent criminal element associated with weed, and I've already explained why they would not go away if weed was legalised.
".....I'm guessing you get turned on by groups of uniformed men with guns...." I'm guessing we've reached the rather shallow limits of your reasoning. Remember, if you want to get the law changed then you need to influence, not alienate, otherwise you'll always just be the frustrated minority. Whilst I have no inclination to use weed, ecstasy or any other of the substances you may choose to enjoy, should the law change to allow their use then I will respect your right to use them or even to build a business legally supplying them. Until then, as far as I'm concerned, as a user you're just another sucker, and as a supplier you're just another criminal. If you choose to break the law, don't moan to me if you get a criminal record just because you disagree with the law in question, it was your choice.
"....As for broader consequences of the drug war, its prosecutors and proponents must take responsibility for the nightmare unfolding in Mexico, Afghanistan and every other country where drug barons rule...." You fail to realise that criminals seek the most profitable market, but they move between markets, so they would still be around and making misery for the locals regardless of whether they were growing and smuggling drugs or other items (eg, cigarette smuggling is the most profitable business for the mafias in Macedonia). Seriously, where do you think all those organised gangs will disappear to if the Government lets you grow your own? Those criminal gangs are established now, and unlikely to just roll up and disappear. And they have already been armed with the money you spent funding your habit, you put them there and reinforced them every time you went to your local dealer and bought a few grams, so it's more than a tad hypocritical to pretend that you are not part of the problem. The next time you're going to partake, just look in the mirror and think of those people in Afghanistan and wherever, because if you can still partake then it just goes to prove that you actually don't care about those people, you just wanted to use the thought of their suffering in the hope of convincing others to let you pursue your own selfish habit.