KEITH NEWBERY Richard Branson could have a point in his drugs stance

If alcohol and nicotine were to be discovered now, they would immediately be classified as dangerous drugs and, in all probability, banned.

Their addictive qualities are indisputable and both have had a deleterious effect on the social wellbeing of our so-called civilised society.

One – alcohol – has the capacity to breed violence, destroy families and inflict irreparable damage on those in its thrall.

The other – nicotine – is a pernicious and insidious poison directly responsible for millions of deaths and capable of reducing a healthy body to a husk.

Yet both have been assimilated into our culture, thereby enabling society to exercise a degree of education and control over their distribution and consumption.

Why, then, do we not treat heroin, cocaine, cannabis and all the other banned drugs in a similar fashion?

It is a cause Sir Richard Branson seems determined to take up – and I wish him well with it.

His argument for a more enlightened approach is incontrovertible. As he points out, we have spent 50 years and millions of pounds fighting the battle against drugs and all we have to show for it are increased use, overflowing jails and thriving crime syndicates.

Alcohol was banned in the United States in 1920, and this stunningly naive initiative lasted for 13 blood-stained, booze-raddled years.

People didn’t stop drinking, they merely carried on as usual out of sight and outside the law.

Enforcement agencies wasted millions of dollars and man-hours in a struggle they were always destined to lose – and organised crime prospered before the authorities bowed to the inevitable.

It’s impossible not to compare this period in American history with the dilemma this country now faces in its ongoing (and losing) battle against illegal drugs.

As Branson rightly points out, decriminalising these substances and bringing prescription of them under state control would immediately lead to a reduction in crime at every level – petty, street and organised.

A thriving criminal industry would be destroyed virtually overnight and addicts could be treated as what they are – victims not criminals.

Costs of the initiative could be met from the money saved by bringing the unavailing and unwinnable struggle against the illicit trade to an end.

But which politician is going to be brave enough to set the ball rolling?

** Pity poor Sacha in the years to come

Sacha Laxton is just five years old and already destined for a childhood of bullying and ridicule.

By declaring him ‘gender neutral’ and treating his development as a social experiment, his ludicrous parents have ensured his journey into adulthood will be unnecessarily confusing and painful.

They have compounded their foolishness by revelling in the publicity this poor little kid’s tribulations have already attracted.

His early years are already enshrined on YouTube, where they can be accessed forever by anyone intent upon making his life a misery.

Formative years are tough and children need all the help they can get from their parents.

If young Sacha emerges unscathed from his trip through this emotional minefield it will be a miracle.

*** Do you agree with Keith? Join the debate and let us know what YOU think.