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Man Whose Sons Died Of MDMA Overdose Calls For Legalisation Of Drugs

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Man Whose Sons Died Of MDMA Overdose Calls For Legalisation Of Drugs

A man whose sons died following an MDMA overdose has urged the government to legalise drugs.

On Monday 1 December 2014, Ray Lakeman's world was shattered when police informed him that his sons Jacques, 20, and Torin, 19, had been found dead.

The siblings had not long left the Isle of Man, to find work and go to university respectively, and had met up for a Manchester United match on the preceding Saturday. But after calls went unanswered, Ray began contacting police departments and hospitals, and their bodies were eventually found in a room above a pub in Bolton.

An inquest subsequently revealed that Torin had ordered drugs on the dark web.

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"The autopsy and everything afterwards showed that they'd taken a mega dose of MDMA and it had killed them both," retired teacher Ray told LADbible.

Ray doesn't want other families to experience the same heartbreak. Credit: Anyone's Child
Ray doesn't want other families to experience the same heartbreak. Credit: Anyone's Child

Tragically, Ray is one of countless parents who have lost children to drugs. Many such parents warn other youngsters to stay away from drugs off the back of their ordeal, in the hope of sparing other families from the heartache. But Ray deduced that such warnings would fall on deaf ears at his sons' crematorium, where he talked to some of Torin's friends from university.

The 70-year-old said: "One of the things that shocked me was that they just thought he was unlucky.

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"And they weren't going to stop taking drugs, they just wanted to make sure they were safe - which as you can imagine was quite a shocking thing to hear. It was quite eye-opening."

His view that legalisation and regulation was the answer was fortified at the inquest in April 2015.

Ray said: "I was listening to the pathologist, I was listening to the coroner, I was listening to the police, and they were all talking about the dosage that the boys had taken. But they were all talking about a regulation dose - they knew that if they had taken a certain amount of it, it wouldn't have killed them."

Naturally, given the danger posed by drugs, many people feel legalising them would be dangerous. But Ray - along with many other campaigners like him - argues it would be much safer to have them controlled by the government than criminals.

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Drugs liberalisation group Transform recently published a book outlining how the government could sell drugs like cocaine and ecstasy in pharmacies, where they could be purchased over the counter with limits, warnings, specially trained chemists, and bans on advertising and branding.

Drug reform groups believe the likes of cocaine should be sold in pharmacies. Credit: Transform Drug Policy Foundation
Drug reform groups believe the likes of cocaine should be sold in pharmacies. Credit: Transform Drug Policy Foundation

While there would undoubtedly be challenges posed by the legalisation of drugs, Ray argues that the current policy of criminalisation and deterrence clearly isn't working - as evidenced by deaths and drugs seizures.

He said: "My boys died six years ago, and since then, 25,000 people have died from Class A drugs in the UK, over 4,000 a year. It's more than people die on the road."

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Referencing a large cocaine bust hailed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, he continued: "She's crowing, 'We've seized this, it will slow everything down.' That's not the story. The story is that there is a demand for cocaine, there is a demand for these drugs and freezing it is not going to stop it.

"It's a product, people actually want it, and unless governments understand that, you can never stop it. If people want it, they'll find a way to get it, and people will find a way of providing it."

Ray believes the criminalisation of drugs isn't working. Credit: Anyone's Child
Ray believes the criminalisation of drugs isn't working. Credit: Anyone's Child

Jane Slater, campaign manager at Anyone's Child: Families for Safer Drug Control, has seconded Ray's calls for drugs to be taken out of the hands of criminals and put under the control of health professionals.

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She said: "As Ray's story shows, drug use really can impact anyone's child. We have to accept that a 'just say no' policy simply doesn't work - in fact it's harming rather than protecting our children.

"The UK once again had record levels of drug overdose this year [2020] - the Misuse of Drugs Act is 50 years old and simply not fit for purpose. That's why we are calling for drugs to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

"Ultimately, we want a legal system of regulation for drugs where doctors and pharmacists are in control rather than organised criminals."

Sooner rather than later, Ray hopes that attitudes towards drugs and policy will shift, preventing others from experiencing the same heartbreak.

He said: "I don't want families to go through the same thing my family's been through. What me and my wife have been through, and our friends.

"I don't want that to happen, but we can't continue doing things the way that we're doing, because it obviously isn't working."

Ray wants drugs to be taken out of the hands of criminals and regulated. Credit: Anyone's Child
Ray wants drugs to be taken out of the hands of criminals and regulated. Credit: Anyone's Child

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse told LADbible the government has 'no plans' to legalise drugs.

He said: "Illegal drugs can devastate communities and destroy lives, and the government has no plans to legalise them - we must prevent drug misuse in our communities and support people through treatment and recovery.

"We have recently announced a £148 million package aimed at dismantling the organised criminal gangs who encourage this terrible trade, helping those in drug treatment and recovery therapy to stop drug-related crime, and dealing with the significant health-related harms drugs pose."

Featured Image Credit: Anyone's Child

Topics: UK News, Drugs, Community

Jake Massey
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