Monday, October 15, 2012

A call for sanity in the UK

Six years ago, the UK government established the UK Drug Policy Commission to "provide independent and objective analysis of UK drug policy". Six years on, it has reported back - and recommended some radical changes:

The report by the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC), an independent advisory body, says possession of small amounts of controlled drugs should no longer be a criminal offence and concludes the move will not lead to a significant increase in use.

The experts say the criminal sanctions imposed on the 42,000 people sentenced each year for possession of all drugs – and the 160,000 given cannabis warnings – should be replaced with simple civil penalties such as a fine, attendance at a drug awareness session or a referral to a drug treatment programme.

They also say that imposing minimal or no sanctions on those growing cannabis for personal use could go some way to undermining the burgeoning illicit cannabis factories controlled by organised crime.

There are obvious parallels with the recommendations of the Law Commission here in New Zealand - and for good reason: both reports are driven by a recognition that the war on drugs has failed, and has resulted in enormous resources being wasted on prosecuting people for no purpose. An evidence-based, public-health focused regime would produce much better outcomes, while saving vast amounts of money.

Sadly, the UK government won't listen: the Home Secretary Theresa May has already rule dout any changes. Which means they will continue wasting money and lives on this pointless exercise on "looking tough" for years to come.