Though it represents merely a tentative first step toward reform, Re:Vision welcomes the publication of the Home Affairs Select Committee”s report, “Drugs: Breaking the Cycle”.
The Committee collected a substantial variety of evidence over the course of a year which culminated in a global conference. The final report outlines the failings of Britain”s war on drugs, examines pioneering initiatives and policy debates around the world, and calls once again for a Royal Commission on drug policy.
Re:Vision is encouraged by the Committee”s statement on the aims of drugs policy, which appears to emphasise harm reduction over supply elimination:”Drug use can lead to harm in a variety of ways: to the individual who is consuming the drug; to other people who are close to the user; through acquisitive and organised crime, and wider harm to society at large. The drugs trade is the most lucrative form of crime, affecting most countries, if not every country in the world. The principal aim of Government drugs policy should be first and foremost to minimise the damage caused to the victims of drug-related crime, drug users and others.”
Katie Ion of Re:Vision Drug Policy Network said, “The Committee should be commended for their thorough work. However, the report is primarily a call for further review and does not constitute any material change to Britain”s failed ”drug war”. We are disappointed yet unsurprised by the Government”s outright rejection to hold a Royal Commission or to even discuss many of the Committee”s sound recommendations. The time has come for politicians to move on evidence-based policies. We must begin by decriminalising drug use and drug addiction in favour of a harm-reducing public health approach.”
The Committee also contributed forward-thinking recommendations on improving addiction treatment in prisons, decriminalisation and legalisation, the reintegration of drug addicts to the wider community, and holding financial institutions responsible for their role in the global criminal drugs trade. While the report is refreshingly inclusive of many aspects of the complex drug reform debate, the real work has yet to begin.
Britain requires urgent and innovative action to make good on the Committee”s findings. Strong leadership needs to step up and make meaningful changes to our drugs policy, including decriminalisation and legalisation. Re:Vision will therefore seek out and support MPs who are willing to lead the way toward effective, evidence-based drugs laws.
Notes to editor
* The Re:Vision Drug Policy Network is a national network of young people speaking out to create the belief that a drug policy based on the ideas of human welfare and human rights is both possible and necessary. The Drug War is fought in the name of youth, so it is essential that we as young people argue for an end to punitive, harmful drug laws.
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