Ending the drug war: what we’ve done and what we’re doing

In January 2011, I had a dream. A dream of a national organisation for young people focussed on a control and regulation model for drug policy. As it was a quite literal dream, I sat bolt upright in bed and started scribbling down everything I could remember. What did we want to do? How would that work? How on earth were we going to find volunteers, money, advice?


One year on, and as the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network’s first birthday passed largely unnoticed last week – we were too busy campaigning – we’re still asking ourselves those questions, but we do so with a base of volunteers stretching from Edinburgh to London, and even abroad. It has been hard work, but rewarding hard work.


It’s not all hard work.
The last twelve months have seen a large number of meetings and a great deal of paperwork. We’re very grateful to the drug law reform organisations that took the time to answer really obvious questions that weren’t obvious at the time, and it has paid off. In the last twelve months we have:
  • Established six working groups on areas we determined were essential to our functioning as an organisation.
  • Established social media channels which now have 1300 followers.
  • Developed a range of posters and leaflets to translate the drug war easily.
  • Developed our resources for people wanting to start local groups, including an 8,000 word campaigning guide.
  • Protested at the March for the Alternative on March 26th.
  • Protested on June 30th 2011 against cuts to drug user services.
  • Started a project to ask students about their use of cognitive enhancing drugs.
  • Absorbed dozens of volunteers into our organisation.
  • Marked World AIDS Day with a special briefing on the effect of HIV/AIDS on injecting drug users.
  • Submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into drug laws.
  • Submitted feedback to the European Commission on their new anti-drugs strategy.
  • Held a stall at the Green Party Spring Conference.
  • Submitted a motion on climate change and the environment to the Campaign Against Climate Change Annual General Meeting.
  • Set up a website to document all of these things and promote our message.
  • Started a blog!
For an organisation run entirely by volunteers in their spare time, I think we have much to be proud of, and we have barely begun to scratch the surface of the ideas and suggestions that have poured into us. As our fundraising strategy kicks in (feel free to donate here), we will have more funds to support the work of our volunteers and the work of our organisation.
We see an exciting year ahead for Re:Vision.
Ultimately, it is the work that is important. I became a drug law reform activist at first because I have very libertarian views on drugs, but I stayed because I was horrified at the injustices being committed against human beings because of the view that drugs are ‘dangerous’. Our work is for the women drug mules who are currently languishing in our prison system, and prisons all over the world for taking an opportunity to earn money to support themselves and their families. Our campaign is for the young men who have their futures ripped away from them for tiny mistakes they’ve made now. Our work is also to reverse the damage done to our budgets, national infrastructure, and the environment, but most of all it is about people. People caught up in a war that was declared on them by some of the most powerful institutions on Earth, whether they take drugs or not, and which has cost tens of thousands of lives. We must do everything we can to stop this.


This blog is the latest effort to mobilise young people. We will be updating it regularly with a variety of news commentary, features and updates to educate and inform young people (and everyone else) about the latest developments in the drug war. We hope it will be a useful communication tool, both from us to you, and from you to us. Please send us your ideas, comments and, if you feel productive, guest posts, either in the comments or through our comment form here
If we place a stall beside it, they will come.
Our first year has achieved much. Our second year will hopefully bring even more, as we don’t have to devote so much time and energy to determining the more mundane things like whether our equipment policy is compliant with charity law. We can just get on with what we’re all truly passionate about – the control and regulation of all drugs, the end to the drug war, and the protection and dignity of human beings. Onward to year two!

Update: Re:Vision in the News – Cannabis Farms in Manchester

“Under Operation Broadley, police want the public to support them by reporting their suspicions on illegal plantations, as more stringent border controls have resulted in criminals choosing to home-grow marijuana. Police discovered 1,180 cannabis cultivations with 10 plants or more last year, arresting 1,458 as a result. However, a national campaigner for a reworking of drug policy group has blamed the GMP’s clampdown of warehouse production for the widespread problems of smaller farms across Greater Manchester.

Sarah McCulloch, Local Group Coordinator for Re:Vision Drug Policy Manchester, said: “The reality of the situation is that by constantly clamping down on cannabis farms, GMP are simply spreading them all over Manchester instead of confining them to a few manageable areas.“

Cannabis production is being pushed out of warehouses and abandoned buildings to the suburbs and residential housing where they are a much greater nuisance to regular people.“So long as Mancunians want cannabis, there will be people to grow it, regardless of how many farms GMP bust.”

“Read the entire article here

Press Release: “This is not justice” – Cannabis user jailed for 16 months (

Winston Matthews, 55 year old grandfather given 16 month jail term for using cannabis.

Long-term cannabis activist Winston Matthews has been given a 16 month prison term for cultivating cannabis to treat his chronic back pain.Mr. Matthews, a 55 year old grandfather who uses cannabis to manage chronic back pain incurred in an industrial accident 33 years ago, was convicted for both possession and cultivation of cannabis. He uses cannabis due to negative side effects from other treatments. Due to prior convictions for cannabis possession and cultivation, and Mr. Matthews’ refusal to stop medicating with cannabis, Judge Matthews handed down a sixteen month sentence. This is despite draft sentencing guidelines being published last week that seek to recognise the growing scientific consensus on the use of cannabis to control chronic pain.

Winston Matthews is a long-term cannabis campaigner and was a prominent member of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, a pressure group to legalise cannabis, standing as a candidate in several local elections. He has produced much art and poetry and was involved in the setting up of several Dutch-style cannabis “coffee shops” in Britain in the early 2000s. Winston Matthews himself stated concerning his case: “the Crown Prosecution Service inferred [because I was growing cannabis outdoors] that I was growing for profit. I need that like a hole in the head – this is the first time this has ever been suggested, and it”s not true. I grow for me!”

A spokesperson for the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network said: “Winston Matthews is a dedicated and cannabis campaigner who has used cannabis to treat his painful condition and harmed no-one. He has stated that he has grown cannabis for his own medicinal use, and for this, he has been sent to a Category B prison with prisoners with convictions for burglary and robbery who will be out sooner than Winston himself. This is many things, but it is not justice.”

A Facebook group in support of Mr. Matthews has already gained over 800 members in the last 24 hours. Cannabis campaigners from all over Britain and abroad have been expressing their support for Mr. Matthews, and dozens have already sent letters and emails to the prison where Mr. Matthews is being held.

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. We believe in the control and regulation of all drugs, and the democratic control of communities over the availability of drugs in their areas.


Editor”s notes

  1. Contact  info@revisiondrugs.org
  2. Please join the FREE WINSTON MATTHEWS Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/327222800656077/
  3. Mail and money can be sent to:Winston Matthews A8167CKHMP High Down PrisonHigh Down LaneSuttonSurrey SM2 5PJ

Update: Re:Vision Newsletter (January 2012)

Hello everyone,

welcome to 2012, which is sure to be a big step forward for the drug law reform movement!

In early December, we marked World AIDS Day by producing a briefing accessible to young people, which you can read here. We also organised a stall with a giant needle gimmick to raise awareness of injecting drug users and their needs, pictures of which are available here. In late December, we organised our first submission to an official inquiry into drugs by the Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee, which we made available to everyone to edit until early January. The final document which we have submitted is currently unavailable due to the procedures of the committee, but we will get it up when we can. This report will hopefully mark the beginning of our serious involvement in promoting the voice of young people to policy-makers.This month, we have finally finished designing and implementing our volunteering process, and we are now actively looking for volunteers who have never been involved in Re:Vision or drug law reform before to join our cause. If you or someone you know may be interested in giving us some time, whether writing, speaking, running stalls or helping us out with our campaign, please do make use of our volunteering form here. Our work slowed this month as while we are now rapidly approaching a 50-50 mix of students v. non-students, several key people are now working at their exams and we couldn’t ask too much of them. But exams are now over!


As you know, the Core Team is the governing body of our organisation, which takes decisions on the day-to-day running of Re:Vision. Several Core Team members are also Trustees, whose legal responsibility it is to ensure the long-term strategic and financial well-being of our charity. The Core Team is made up of Sarah, Andi, Liz, Jesse, Kay, Joe, and now Dan, who joined last month. Previously they haven”t held meetings because we have tried to organise mainly through the internet. However, our December trustee meeting lasted seven hours and we realised that we need to hold more meetings in order to not have seven hour meetings. We will now be holding monthly Core Team meetings in January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November. Trustee meetings will be held quarterly in March, June, September and December. The Core Team meetings are open for any member with a Volunteering Agreement to attend and participate – please speak to your mentor if you would like to do this. Switching to monthly meetings should make us a great deal more responsive to ongoing events and feedback from our core membership, so this is going to be a great step forward.


The list of people who are supporting serious drug law reform gets longer by the day, and more vocal. Richard Branson, billionaire entrpreneur and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, recently blogged about the need to end the war on drugs and gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee as well. Congressman Ron Paul, candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. President, is vigorously defending his support for control and regulation in the full glare of the media. The Global Initative for Drug Policy Reform, run by the Beckley Foundation, and the Count the Costs campaign, overseen by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, are actively bringing together a wide range of NGOs, many of whom have no primary mandate to campaign for drug law reform. This is a really good time to be a drug law reformer, and as young people, with a voice and a vote, we can really make a difference. Support us today.



We need a range of volunteering skills, as well as people who want to do odd-jobs and some promotion for us. You can be any age, please get in contact. We”re especially looking for anyone who might have a background in both drug policy and teaching. Write your submission to the Home Affairs Committee

We sent in our submission on time, but then the Home Affairs Committee helpfully extended the deadline to the 5th of February. This is your opportunity to make your own submission to Parliament about how you feel about drug policy! We have provided a form that you can fill out, with some useful prompting questions that you can use: put in whatever you want, then we will send them all off for you. No fuss, no muss! Fill out the form here.


We run a very tight ship, but as our organisation grows and we”re buying boring stuff (like public liability insurance) that other sources of income can”t cover. Please donate today to help us focus our attention on things that matter (like the volunteers covered by our public liability insurance)! Here”s the donation button.

Thanks for reading,

– Re:Vision activists

Press Release: Re:Vision Welcomes HASC Report on Drugs

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.

* Contact us at info@revisondrugs.org

Update: Make Your Submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee

The Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee is launching an inquiry the government’s current drugs strategy, particularly whether it is a ”fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights”. This committee is made up of backbench MPs and Lords who have an interest in how our government works in this country. The committee has invited organisations and individuals to submit written evidence relevant to the inquiry.Re:Vision want to make it easy for people to submit evidence to the inquiry, so we”ve set up a form to help you to contribute:

1. Individual submissions

We”ve made it easy for you to write up anything you want to tell the inquiry by using this handy online form. Fill in your details and the sections, and we”ll send it off for you.

The Re:Vision submission

In addition to the individual submissions, the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network has submitted a organisation submission based on the comments that our members made on our collaborative document. Thank you to everyone who helped!If you want to be involved in helping to bring about an evidence based drugs policy focused on harm reduction, get writing!’,’The Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee is launching an inquiry the government’s current drugs strategy, particularly whether it is a ”fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights”. Re:Vision want to make it easy for people to submit evidence to the inquiry, so we”ve set up a form to help you to contribute:

Press Release: Re:Vision Manchester Marks World AIDS Day (1st December, 2011)

Yesterday, Re:Vision Drug Policy Manchester marked World AIDS Day by holding a stall and giving out flyers.A large proportion of HIV infections worldwide are caused by intravenous drug use and current global drug policies help to perpetuate this, by focusing on punishment rather than health. For example, a survey of drug users in five Russian cities, found 40% did not carry their own injectioan equipment, in part out of fear of attracting police attention. There is a full briefing about World AIDS Day on our website.

Volunteer Sarah McCulloch said, “It”s been a really successful day, we educated a lot of people about HIV and drug users and really raised a lot of awareness of the global situation as well as the local one.”Re:Vision is a network of young people fighting for an end to the drug war. We believe in the control and regulation of all drugs, and the democratic control of communities over the availability of drugs in their areas.For more information, please email sarah.mcculloch@revisiondrugs.org.

Update: Write to your MP and ask them to support and impact assessment!

Transform are reporting that there there is an Early Day Motion in the UK Parliament calling for an impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Early Day Motions are ways for MPs to show support for certain issues – they”re a useful thermometer for which MPs are willing to put their behind something!

Parliament publish the list of MPs who have signed the motion.

Please contact your MP and ask them to sign it! It”s a great way to start getting in touch with MPs and finding out where they stand on the war on drugs. For more information on impact assessments, please see Transform”s briefing on the need for one.

Memorandum Submitted to the 2012 Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Drugs

You can see the parameters of the inquiry here.A full document with footnotes and citations is available at the bottom of the page.

About The Re:Vision Drug Policy Network

The Re:Vision Drug Policy Network, founded in March 2011, is a national drug policy charity that engages with young people aged 16-25 to speak out against unequal and unfair drug laws. We are a national organisation based in Manchester, although we do have some local groups. Our mission statement: “to work with young people and interested organisations to create the belief that a drug policy based on the ideas of human welfare and human rights is both possible and necessary.“

Executive summary

Our memorandum focuses chiefly on pointing out the ways in which current government policy fails to be a fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, and human rights. We argue that the government does not take on board important scientific advances, and that all the evidence is against the current direction of drug policy leading to a better future. We argue that a health-based approach would entail acknowledging that not all drug use is inherently problematic and that it is more important to mitigate the harms of existing use than to rely on supply or demand control. We point out two ways in which the current approach fails to provide value for money, and finally, we argue that the Misuse of Drugs Act violates the spirit of the Human Rights Act, both in theory and in practice. In conclusion, we suggest looking at the many available models for drug policy that involve decriminalisation and increased control and regulation by removing the black market in drugs.


1. This memorandum is structured around the fact that the inquiry is examining whether government drug policy is a ‘fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights’. We have chosen to respond in four sections: science, health, fiscal responsibility, and human rights.Scientific basis / evidence

Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)

2. First we shall look at the ACMD. Following the high profile sacking of Professor David Nutt in 2009 as Chair of the ACMD, which was followed by the resignations of several other committee members in protest, the government has changed the requirement for experts in particular areas, such as pharmacy or veterinary science, to omit any reference to science at all.# They stated that this was to offer greater flexibility, but it is quite convenient that the ACMD cannot be declared inquorate because of a lack of expertise.

3. Even attempts to heed these requirements led to the appointment of Hans-Christian Raabe in January 2011, an abstinence only “expert”, who was eventually dismissed before he had the opportunity to attend a meeting due to media coverage of his association with the Christian Party and his outspoken homophobia.# While Re:Vision Drug Policy Network is absolutely opposed to homophobia in all forms, Dr Raabe’s appointment was far more remarkable for the fact that he appears to have no qualifications, experience or background in drug policy or drug use whatsoever. We have been unable to determine by what criteria, or by whom, Dr Raabe was considered a suitable candidate to advise the government on drugs and drug policy.

4. Even with these changes, the ACMD still recommended in a submission to the Sentencing Council in October 2011 that drug offences regarding personal possession should be subject to civil penalties rather than criminal ones, with an emphasis on treatment and education rather than punitive measures. This was flatly rejected by the Home Office, who stated, “We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.”#

5. Points (2)-(4) clearly show that government policy makes use of the ACMD how and when it likes to and ignores it when it does not, which can hardly be considered the epitome of evidence-based policy.

Evidence for current drug policy

5. David Cameron sat on the last Home Affair Select Committee Inquiry into Drugs, and supported its recommendations, including one to look at legalising some drugs. He said, “Surely the point of a good drug policy is about keeping users healthier and out of the criminal justice system.”# He has now distanced himself from these remarks and policies, but the evidence has not changed in the intervening decade.

6. In particular, the previous Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Drugs concluded that: “If there is any single lesson from the experience of the last 30 years, it is that policies based wholly or mainly on enforcement are destined to fail.” It also said that “we have to recognise that, however much advice they are offered, many young people will continue to use drugs” and as such, it “makes sense to give priority to educating such young people in harm minimisation rather than prosecuting them”. We are concerned to see that there has been no significant shift in this direction in the past ten years.

7. A recurring theme in drug policy debate over the past several years has been that the present classification of drugs has no scientific basis. There is little correlation between the harms that drugs cause and the category they are put in#, and numerous calls to reclassify certain drugs to better represent their relative harms have been rebuffed (the last Home Affairs Select Committee recommended reclassifying Ecstasy as class B, as has the ACMD. David Cameron himself supported this downgrade in the 2005 Conservative Party leadership debate, retracting his views 24 hours later)#. By failing to include alcohol or tobacco in the class system – two drugs whose use is widespread and deadly – the comparison is skewed before it even begins. All these factors lead us to believe that the class system is based more on political expedience than on a considered ranking of harms.


8. Together, these factors make it obvious that current drug policy is based on heady mixture of the moral principles that drug use is wrong and users must be punished, a dose of political posturing, and an unwavering belief that following the same rough direction in drug policy will lead to an end to the drug problem. Whether any senior politicians actually have this belief, it is difficult to say, since ever more politicians out of office are speaking out to say that the drug war must end. However, this belief does seem to be the institutional grounding of all drug policy.


9. In response to the Inquiry’s question “How big a role should public health considerations play in drugs policy?”, we believe public health should be a major consideration in drugs policy. International treaties in drug control were advocated, at least partially, for the protection of public health. However, by any measure the current control measures are failing to protect public health.

10. A stark example of this is the ballooning number of problematic drug users today when compared to 1971, when the Misuse of Drugs Act was introduced. That heroin use has risen by 1000% is a oft-mentioned statistic. Anyone working with young people, drug users, or disadvantaged communities is well aware that drugs are available and accessible to anyone with ready cash and a willingness to ask around.

11. It must be noted is that drug use is not inherently problematic. Much of our nation’s culture, art, and scientific innovations were produced under the influence of drugs. Millions of people use drugs every month with little or no consequences. There are at least 144,000 people using MDMA each month# and somewhere in the region of 10-20 people die solely from its use in a year#. The use of MDMA is indeed a safer activity than horse-riding. With this in mind, the protection of public health should not be focused on preventing young people from taking drugs but on reducing already existing harms (as the previous Home Affairs Committee rightly noted).

12. Criminalising users makes them far less likely to seek help when they need it and encourage less safe forms of drug taking. Worse, current government policy criminalises efforts to provide appropriate harm reduction services. For example, Section 9A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 prohibits the distribution of foil, but not needles, to drug users. This results in the incidental promotion of injecting drug use above smoking, even though injecting drug use increases the spread of disease, risk of addiction, venial collapse, and arterial pseudo-aneurysms.

13. The two previous points show the way to a more meaningful drug policy: one which acknowledges that drug use is not inherently problematic and attempts to mitigate its more damaging aspects, without relying mainly on cutting off the supply of currently illegal drugs or criminalising users.

14. People respond to messages about drugs that are about keeping yourself safe and methods of harm reduction – they do not pay attention to warning about risks. Drug-takers have already decided that the pleasure brought by the drug outweighs the risk to themselves. However, they are willing to and do listen to health campaigns and to make use of harm reduction paraphernalia when it is made accessible to them. It is important that we realise this as a society and direct our resources fully into harm reduction rather than enforcement, if we want to ensure a healthy society and reduce the spread of disease.

Fiscal responsibility

15. Prisoners are currently costing the taxpayer £42,000 each, every year, and it is estimated that around 10,000 people, or 15% of the UK prison population, are there for offences regarding the production, supply, and possession of drugs. As the current recidivism rate is at nearly three quarters of prisoners, and the social stigma of criminal records for drug-related offences is severe and increasing under the current government, people who are imprisoned for non-violent drug offences are forced to keep committing those same offences after they leave prison, because they have no other option. This is costing our prison system a fortune and failing to stem the drugs trade – in fact because nearly every prisoner in Britain has access to heroin and little to do, you are more likely to become a heroin addict when you enter prison than to quit being one before you leave.#

16. While not directly applicable to the UK, RAND Corporation’s paper Controlling Cocaine showed that treatment programmes were by far the most cost-effective way to reduce the number of cocaine users in the US#, with every one dollar spent on treatment saving $7.48 in societal costs (compared with 15-52 cents of savings for a dollar of enforcement spending). As far as we are aware, there is no research similar to this in the UK, but even if enforcement spending in the UK is an order of magnitude more effective at reducing supply or demand than in the US, it would likely still be less fiscally efficient than spending the same amount on treatment.

17. We would like to echo Transform’s point in a submission to the previous Inquiry into Drugs which called for the ACMD to have more funding so that it could examine such questions on an ongoing basis.Human rights

Private life

18. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) is about the right to privacy:11. Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

19. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission guidance on Article 8 points out that “the courts have interpreted the concept of ‘private life’ in a very broad way”#, and it means that the government should not interfere in one’s private life as long as one respects the rights of others.

20. Current drug policy does not respect this right. Drug use forms a regular part of many people’s private lives that does not significantly affect the exercise of others’ rights, and as such should be protected under the HRA. However, private drug-taking in the presence of consenting adults is technically criminal. The criminalisation of private and consensual activities for political reasons runs contrary to the principles of human rights.

The burden of enforcement

21. Fundamentally, it is impossible to enforce the law effectively on users because of the numbers of people involved and the amount of state surveillance that would be required. In practice this means that a significant proportion of the population are technically criminals – at least 8.8% of all British adults between 16-59 took controlled drugs in the last twelve months alone. (British Crime Survey figures).

22. In practice, however, some groups are criminalised more than others – non-whites, young people and people who look “different”. Alex Stevens’ research shows that Black people are far more likely to be stopped and searched, arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned for drug offences than white people. This is despite no evidence that taken as a group, Black people use or sell drugs any more than white people.#

23. Anecdotally, Re:Vision members have seen trends in enforcement where young people are more likely to be stopped than older people. Having long hair, wearing “hippyish” clothes or having dreadlocks all seem to make someone significantly more likely attract attention from the police.

24. The way the law is enforced means that a private life with regard to drug use is allowed for some but not for others. Article 14 of the HRA demands that human rights are available to all, without distinction based on factors such as ethnic group, age, or appearance. In theory all drug users are criminal, but in practice they are not, and the difference between the two leaves the government’s policy running contrary to the principles of human rights.

25. The government could step up enforcement, spending more on policing, jail and surveillance, in order to avoid discrimination, but it cannot do this while respecting Article 8. If drugs are to be treated as human rights issue, the government must stop the blanket criminalisation of drug use.


26. A conviction for drug use is likely to damage someone a lot more than taking the drug itself. A criminal record is considered stigmatic, and a conviction for any kind of drug related offence doubly so. An early conviction for a non-violent drug offence for a teenager from a disadvantaged background (the demographic most likely to be stopped and searched) forces them into a vicious cycle where they are unable to integrate into mainstream society and must remain dependant on drug dealing to support themselves or dependant on drug use in order to deal with the pressures upon them. This is not a situation which benefits the teenager, the taxpayer, or society.


27. Should the government wish to change its current trajectory, it does not need to look far for comprehensive alternative strategies. The Transform Drug Policy Foundation published a document in 2009 called After the War on Drugs: The Blueprint for Regulation, in which they comprehensively discussed how drugs could be controlled and regulated, including production, supply, consumption, advertising, using a phased introduction. This document is specific to Britain and thorough in its analysis.

28. Alternatively, the government could take its current policies to their logical conclusion and press enforcement even harder. This has been the approach of Russia, which has successfully all but shut down the heroin trade in its territory. Instead of reducing drug use, however, drug users are now creating their own opiates from household chemicals and iodine. This drug is known as “Krokadil”, because injecting it causes the skin to rot and develop gangrene around the injecting site, giving a reptilian appearance.


29. It is clear that the current system is ineffective at reducing drug use, use-related harms, or providing good value to money. As outlined above, our alternatives are to move to a controlled and regulated system, or to press ever more harshly on enforcement. Re:Vision Drug Policy Network considers control and regulation to be the obvious and compelling model for drug policy-makers.Full document.

Re:Vision September Newsletter

Hi everyone,welcome to the first Re:Vision national newsletter. We”d like to give you an overview of what we”ve been doing over the last six months so you don”t think we”re neglecting you!

Since we got started, the trustees have been doing a lot of paperwork. We”re now a registered company with a bank account and non-profit status on the way. We”ve been making contacts with other drug law reform organisations, letting them know what we”re planning and getting their advice on what we should be doing to make the best impact.We have now formally launched working groups responsible for coordinating media, our web strategy, our campaign, policy development and membership. We”re writing up blurbs for them now and we will be seeking new volunteers to join our existing volunteers very soon, so stay tuned.

Our local groups training day was last week and went very well, so there will shortly be four local groups dotted around the country with the possibility of more on the way. Details of these will be on our website.In October, we will be launching our new website with much more content about our work, the need for drug law reform and a innovative new surprise that we hope will get us some interest. We will also be launching our new campaign, which will be relatively low-key while we continue to develop our national infrastructure and recruit new people to our organisation, but which we hope will be a good contribution to the field.It”s an extremely exciting time to be involved in drug law reform.

On the 18th September, the Liberal Democrat autumn conference officially passed policy to set up a new advisory panel to consider the decriminalisation of all drugs. For a political party actually in government to call for such a policy is an action of historic proportions, even as drug services for young people are being cut across the country by the senior partner in the coalition. The same weekend a broad range of drug policy organisations also came together in London to talk about exactly how a post-prohibition world would look. For us to be even having such a conversation is a long way from the atmosphere of the 1970s when the Misuse of Drugs Act was first passed.It”s therefore very important that young people take a stand where we can to add our voice to this growing roar of dissent.

We will be emailing you over the next few weeks to explain exactly how you can join us in creating a powerful national movement of young people committed to speaking out against the drug war. We hope that you will choose to help us, either with your money, time or knowledge, as we get on with the business of forming a national voice of young people for drug law reform.

Thanks for reading,

Re:Vision activists