UK Report: Tough Laws Don't Stop Drug Use
A new report published by the UK Home Office has found that there is no “obvious link” between the severity of drug law and levels of drug use. It comes as the Commons – the first stage of UK parliamentary debate – begins a debate on drug policy legislation for the first time in over a generation.
The Report They Didn’t Want
Although the report comes from the Home Office themselves, it is being treated like an unwanted nuisance. It has caused a lot of division within the department, and government as a whole. As a result, the findings of the report have been sat on for the last 3 months - causing speculation that the results were politically inconvenient. The official line from the Home Office is that their current drug policy is working, and that there is no need for change. The fact that their report has found the opposite is a very large setback for them.
The findings of the report were concluded by analyzing the approach to drug policy of 13 other countries, ranging from zero-tolerance to decriminalization. It was found that there had been “considerable improvement” the health of drug users in Portugal, where drug use was made a health issue, rather than a criminal one, back in 2001.
Although we are kind of laying into the Home Office a bit, not everyone there has their head buried in the sand. Norman Baker, minister for the Home Office, has said that the results should end the “mindless rhetoric” surrounding drug use in the UK, and help refocus the issue as one of health instead of crime.
A Historic Moment - Drug Policy Set For Debate
Whilst inconvenient for the Conservative led coalition, the report is certainly a great step forward for those who want to see the personal possession of drugs decriminalized in the UK. Danny Kushlick, founder of Transform, has welcomed the report stating, "Decriminalizing the possession of drugs doesn't increase levels of use."
If you ask us, the report could not actually have been released at a better time. Thanks to a petition started by Green MP Caroline Lucas, and promoted by Russell Brand, the Commons of Parliament are debating for a drug policy based on evidence instead of prejudice – and the side ‘for’ have just been given a very large bit of ammunition! If they had released the report 3 months ago, it probably would have fizzled into the background; but because of its proximity to the debate, and the controversy of it being sat on for so long, it has made waves in the public eye, and is now at the forefront of discussion.
Is The Home Office Ready To Grow Up? Doesn’t Look Like It
Although things are looking good for the UK, an important symbolic first step has been made, the Home Office is still prepared to play the stubborn child, and dig its heels in for the long haul. Instead of moving forward with the times, they want to take us all backwards. A separate report by the Home Office has called for the blanket ban of all psychoactive substances, with the exclusion of certain things, such as alcohol and tobacco (funny that). It is this report the Home Office wants to move forwards with, in the hope that such a move would clamp down on legal highs, and the ease with which they can be altered and created.
For the safety of drug users across the UK, let’s hope that the positive report, and debate, can spark a change for the better.