Tag Archives: drugs policy

LibLink: Nick Clegg and Richard Branson: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades. End it now.

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsIn a major keynote speech today, Nick Clegg will call for responsibility for drugs to be moved from the criminal justice system to the health care system. In that, he has the support of Richard Branson and the two men have written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section. First of all, they show how the current system is both wasting money and failing:

 Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.

While other countries around the world are rethinking their approach, Britain remains stubbornly, truculently wedded to the old way, with tragic human consequences:

And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children aged 11 to 15 is still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated “legal highs” is rampant.

At the same time, the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted. This costs a lot of money, which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

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What Theresa May didn’t want you to see: Norman Baker reveals all on drugs report

Norman Baker has revealed that the report into effective ways of tackling drugs policy commissioned by Liberal Democrats in Governemnt had some of its conclusions removed by Theresa May, presumably for fear of upsetting the Daily Mail.

From the Guardian:

He said that drugs policy should be based “on evidence, not dogma” and that, although the Conservatives were opposed to liberalisation, they were losing the argument on the issue.

Under pressure from the Lib Dems, the Home Office commissioned a report looking at the international evidence on the impact of legislation on drug use. Theresa May, the home secretary, made no secret of the fact that she had no enthusiasm for the project, and when it was published in October, with Baker taking the lead in publicising it, Conservative ministers signalled that they would ignore it.

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Opinion: The legalisation of drugs – let’s not take the line of least resistance

drugsIt’s 1977…. a hot summer evening in Chicago (no – this is not the start of a Raymond Chandler novel). I’m getting a lift back from an outer suburb to the city which takes around an hour on the freeway. It’s late. The driver is going illegally fast. He’s desperate to get home he tells me – so he can smoke some dope. I am desperate to get back in one piece.  I suppose the only thing that might have made his driving worse is if he had actually already smoked the stuff. But that’s what addiction does – it makes people a bit desperate. And make no mistake, cannabis can be addictive.

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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Politicians can’t afford to look tough any more. We need to embrace drugs reform

Writing in the Independent, Julian Huppert makes the case for drugs reform in the wake of the Parliamentary debate brought by he and Caroline Lucas. They were debating the Home Office report instigated by Liberal Democrat ministers which provided evidence that the prohibitionist approach simply doesn’t work. Unsurprisingly, the Tories did everything they could to suppress it. Julian writes about the debate and the Liberal Democrat perspective:

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Nick Clegg and Colombian leader to build pressure for drugs reform

Nick Clegg might not be having much luck with the Conservatives on drugs reform, but he’s trying to build an international consensus. He’s agreed a joint approach with Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos according to the Observer:

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A good night for marijuana – US mid-term elections

USA Flag - Some rights reserved by freefotoukFiveThirtyEight has certainly shone through as an excellent resource in these US Mid-term elections. On that website, at the end of a long night, Harry Enten wrote the excellent headline above with these reflections:

In addition to Republican governors, Republican senators and minimum wage increases, marijuana had a good night. Recreational marijuana easily won in Oregon and Washington, D.C., and it’s currently leading in Alaska.

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The Sun: “Nick Clegg makes a powerful case for reform of our drugs laws”

The Lib Dem website says this: “Nick Clegg has announced that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to end imprisonment for possessing drugs for personal use, so that no one is sent to prison, where their only offence is one of possession. Under the proposals, users would instead receive non-custodial sentences and appropriate medical treatment.”

That’s not so surprising. The Lib Dems have long argued for a more rational approach to our drugs laws, with Nick making the point before that “If you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform.”

More surprising is that The Sun newspaper says this:

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Drugs and e-cigarettes: criminalise, legalise, regulate? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

drugsLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Two-thirds of Lib Dems back legalisation of ‘soft’ drugs…

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Opinion: Drugs – Evidence based policy, liberalism and some Uruguayan political courage

drugsAre we seeing some change in the way societies view drugs?

Last December Uruguay legalised cannabis, and in the US, the states of Colorado and Washington legalised cannabis for personal use in 2012. The Netherlands has, for some time, allowed cannabis use in specialist coffeeshops. Of course, none of these examples have opted for free and unfettered access for all, but rather a regulated system where the authorities can exert control. The Uruguayan plan includes a user registry, a tax, and quality control, with the aim of reducing profits for organised crime, and reducing drug related violence.

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Nick Clegg: “If you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform”

clegg drugs observerThe message may not be new – Nick Clegg first declared that “If you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform” back in December 2012 – but that’s no reason not to welcome the Lib Dem leader’s re-statement that urgent reform of the UK’s drugs laws is needed.

It’s the splash in today’s Observer, which reports:

In some of the most outspoken comments on the issue by a serving British politician, Clegg laments the current situation in which “one in five young people have admitted taking drugs in the

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Opinion: Being tough on drugs means being pro-reform

The Sunday Times is claiming to have knowledge of the results of Jeremy Browne’s drug policy “grand tour”. In an article today, Put that in your pipe, Mrs May, the paper describes many conclusions expected to feature in the final report which will bring great cheer to the ordinary Liberal Democrat member:

“A review ordered by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, and due to be published before Christmas, is expected to suggest Britain could benefit from emulating two American states where the use of recreational cannabis is legal. The Home Office report is also expected to call for

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Opinion: Where is the Liberal Democrat influence over drugs policy?

qatYesterday we learnt that the Home Secretary has decided to ban the drug ‘khat’, against the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The Lib Dems were reportedly against this move, and the decision lay with Theresa May. This and other decisions suggest that drugs minister Jeremy Browne has been given a script but no power.

The disappointing decision to make khat a Class C drug follows the view of the ACMD in January that it should remain legal (having said the same thing …

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Opinion: Decriminalising drugs

drugsThe 2011 Liberal Democrat conference passed a motion calling for all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs to be scrapped, the introduction of a regulated market in cannabis, and the expansion of heroin maintenance clinics for the most fervent users.

The UK Drugs Policy Commission (UKDPC), published its final report in 2012. According to UKDPC, the cost of implementing current policy on illicit drugs is at least £3bn a year, but a lack of evidence for what works and provides value for money, and politicians’ unwillingness to act on available …

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Jeremy Browne sets off on global drugs policy research tour

Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne is in Portugal this week. As reported in the Guardian, he has embarked on a tour that will take him to Denmark, Sweden and the US to investigate different drugs policies before reporting his conclusions at the end of the year.

He is quoted as saying:

I’m proud of the UK’s drug policy and there are strong signs our approach is working. Illegal drug use is at its lowest level since records began and far more people are leaving treatment free from dependency than ever before.

But I’m not complacent. The UK cannot deal with

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Opinion: we must force the Tories to follow the evidence on khat

I feel sorry for the Academic Council on the Misuse of Drugs. It’s this panel of drug experts’ task to try and inject some sense into our country’s failing drug policy. Sadly, in the latter years of New Labour’s reign, it became the default option to ignore their advice on drug classification. On magic mushrooms, then on cannabis and then again on ecstasy, Labour couldn’t resist ignoring the ACMD, opting instead for populist posturing in an attempt to appear ‘tough’.

The Labour government’s unscientific urges on drug classification were deeply frustrating to Liberal Democrats, and this led us to a 2010 …

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Nick Clegg: Time to rethink drugs policy

The Sun running a story about the attitude of politicians to drugs reform is fairly commonplace. A Liberal Democrat politician calling for the drugs laws to be reviewed is fairly commonplace. What is however rather less common – and so all the more significant – is for the former to feature the latter in a positive light as LDV mentioned earlier today:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg declares the ‘war on drugs’ lost

It’s unlikely that many of our readers also take The Sun, but it’s probably equally unlikely that a Liberal Democrat would ever give an interview to it in which they spoke so freely about drug policy.

So, today’s headline in the Sun, “Nick Clegg: time to re-think drugs” will be an unexpected one, made more so by the rather supportive polling carried out by YouGov for it and the general tenor of the piece.

Here’s a snippet from the article;

If you

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Drugs: We will be judged by what we achieve

Last year, the Lib Dems passed a near-unanimous Conference motion calling for a complete review of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. It included a call to “consider reform of the law, based on the Portuguese model”.

Today, the cross-Party Home Affairs Select Committee, of which I am a Member, has endorsed that position, and told the Government that they must focus on reducing the damage caused by drugs, rather than hard-line posturing.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

Opinion: It’s time for Nick Clegg to make the liberal case on drugs policy

The Mail on Sunday yesterday reported that the Home Affairs Select Committee report into drugs policy, reporting this morning, is going to recommend that the option of legalisation should be seriously considered and a Royal Commission should be set up to report on the issue prior to the 2015 general election.

As readers of my blog will know, I am a long standing supporter of liberalisation of our drug laws. So this report is a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned. – A sensible pragmatic look at the problems with

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Opinion: Don’t mistake the bodyguard state for a nanny

Richard Reeves has had a go at trying to describe a path for the Liberal Democrats to follow in order to escape from our current political mire.

It’s an interesting read, but peppered with many more sentences that made me groan than nod along. I take particular issue with his characterisation of minimum alcohol pricing and cigarette sales restrictions as indicative of the “nanny state” at work. The nanny state slaps your wrist as you reach for the cookie jar and says “no”. The nanny state stands between homosexuals who love each other and want to get married. The nanny …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

YouGov poll shows huge support for Lib Dem drug policy

Last year’s drug policy debate at conference ended with near-unanimous endorsement of the policy motion “protecting individuals and communities from drug harms“, but since then Liberal Democrats seem to have been passing up every opportunity to publicise our new policy.

When Theresa May dismissed the advice of the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Lib Dems were silent. When Ken Clarke said the War on Drugs was failing but that decriminalisation wasn’t the answer… Lib Dems were silent. When an audience member of question time last week asked if it was time to control, regulate and …

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