Drug Decriminalisation: a Good Idea, but not Enough

The big story today is the UK Drug Policy Commission report calling for the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis and, later, other drugs. The full report, which you can read here, talks about “supporting responsible behaviour”, and “promoting recovery from drug dependence”, and working with local communities and drug users to “take a problem solving approach”.

Which is great. That is definitely so, so much better an idea than the £3 billion we spend every year on prosecuting the drug war. But the number of organisations saying nice things like this is growing by the day. Simply decriminalising users  will not have much effect on the £13 billion lost through drug-related crime each year. And look at the harms table they list!

How many of these harms will be done away with simply by fining drug users instead of jailing them? If we agree that criminalising drug users is a bad idea, why should we civilise (?) them instead?

Nonetheless, I think this report really adds something to the debate. It’s definitely one of the first I’ve seen that says we need to face up to the face that many people use drugs for sane, rational reasons:

[W]e have to recognise that, for many users, drugs bring something to their lives that they value, be it pleasure, relief from pain, enhanced perceptions or performance. This perspective challenges the prevailing wisdom that all drugs are inherently ‘bad’ if used for non-medically authorised purposes.

If the government were to simply admit that actually, nice people take drugs, I imagine a tsunami in drug policy would ensue.

To my mind, though, arguing for decriminalisation in today’s hurrah-for-Uruguay climate is liking arguing for civil unions for gay people. It made sense when we were first talking about gay rights. But with so many nations with full same-sex marriage, and many who originally brought in civil unions “upgrading”, many LGBT activists views them as so 2008. Civil unions are now just a sop. So it is with decriminalisation.

The UKDPC admit that the case for regulation is already being made by others, but states that the evidence is lacking for its efficacy:

We appreciate that some will argue that the risks of the commercialisation of controlled drugs could be contained with careful regulation and that our position does nothing to deal with the negative consequences of the current system in places such as South or Central America, Central and South-East Asia or increasingly parts of Africa. It also would not address existing problems with drug contamination and unpredictable dosage levels. But our assessment is that such a change could lead to some hugely negative unintended consequences, and
should be treated with caution.


It is mildly disappointing that a commission which makes such points as

…there can be no serious challenge to the fact that we have inconsistent control and regulatory frameworks governing the availability of different psychoactive substances. The separation between these drugs and the illicit ones is entirely artificial and historical. In a world where policy could be made without reference to current behaviour and past decisions, that separation would probably not exist.

can then go on to deny that leaving that framework in place poses a major obstacle to effective regulation of drugs, “soft” or otherwise.

But it is true that we don’t yet know concretely what effect the legalisation of drugs would really have on states. It is this which makes the fact that Washington, Colorado and Oregon are holding referenda on the outright legalisation of cannabis after successful experiments with medical marijuana, which stand a reasonable chance of winning, so exciting. Because maybe if one area, somewhere, will just take that step, and prove that the world won’t end, we can stop discussing “minimal civil penalties” and “drug treatment referral panels”, and start talking serious drug law reform.

Why is Regulation of Drugs Important?

When you woke up today, it was probably on a bed that didn’t collapse in the night because the manufacturers had made it from poor quality materials. When you went last went food shopping, none of the food you bought made you sick because the supermarket had thrown away all the out of date stock. If you’ve taken a public taxi, then you probably ended up where you wanted to go and didn’t get ripped off because all licenced taxis have to have visible meters fitted. All of these measures designed to keep you safe, healthy, and able to make your own financial decisions, are the result of government regulations. There’s a lot of talk about how “bureaucratic red tape” slows down business and gets in the way of the consumer, but do you really want to go back to the good old days of “mad cow disease“, when farmers were feeding infected dead cows to live cows and managed to kill 166 people in the process? This is why control and regulation of drugs are important for users, not just communities. Not because the government should be able to use the system to stop people taking drugs, but because drug users shouldn’t be risking their health, or possibly lives, because unscrupulous dealers have a direct financial interest in compromising the quality of their products.

Bureaucratic red tape ultimately stops everything falling apart.

Some cannabis activists have vehemently objected to any suggestion that the law should have any say in who sells what to whom. Some people believe that cannabis should just be decriminalised, because cannabis doesn’t kill anyone, and therefore no regulation is needed. But all drugs are psychoactive substances, it’s not really about whether they kill people or not, they all alter your consciousness. And even if something is harmless, the circumstances in which it is produced can be terrible. Trousers aren’t going to kill you, but the children making them in sweatshops in Indonesia might be happier if they didn’t have to work twelve hours a day to make them for us. So we should recognise that much of the time regulation is a good thing. When you get down to it, it seems the issue for many people is that the current laws regarding alcohol and tobacco are inconsistent and they object to the idea that cannabis will be subject to the same inconsistent regulation. In many places, you can smoke in the open air, but not drink, and you can drink indoors but not smoke! To argue that alcohol and tobacco should be regulated the same as cannabis really means that as reformers we should be supportive of a change in the alcohol and tobacco laws as well.

When it comes to the age of consent, it’s important to remember that the age of consent is not related to any form of scientific research into harms but the age at which you are deemed legally able to make your own decisions for yourself. So this public argument about when  various drugs do and do not damage your developing brain seems to be irrelevant. It therefore seems fair to say that, within reason, certain (probably the “soft” ones) drugs like cannabis should be commercially available to over 18 year olds without restriction but from licenced production facilities which are subject to regular inspection in the same way that the sale of food is regulated and inspected, and that what you produce in your own home and give to your friends is your own business. I don’t mind taking the risk of eating a cake that a friend has made me, but I don’t want the kebab shop down the road to be doing whatever they want in their kitchen. In the same way, I’m sure that most canabis users are happy to consume whatever their friend grew in their garden but are dissatisfied with street dealers selling them herbs with ground glass in – a tactic they often get away with because of the lack of regulation. Harder” drugs are a trickier issue, but well covered in Transform Drug Policy Foundation’s publication, Blueprint for Regulation

The Blueprint for Regulation

But what about the children?! Well, what children do below the age of 18 not in the public eye is also generally considered at the discretion of parents and medical professionals – parents are allowed to give their children alcohol in the home under supervision, and medical professionals can prescribe whatever they want to anyone of any age, they can make those decisions in their own judgement. Doctors have the power to give Prozac to five year olds, yet they don’t! Such laws seem to be a good way of ensuring a balance between the rights of adults to alter their own consciousness and to raise their children as they see fit, the responsibility the government has to public health, and the desire that I hope we all have to not have nine year olds wandering around drunk or high.

The challenge is to set the bar so that it is low enough to keep people safe but not high enough that people will turn to a black market – we can see that with alcohol, which doesn’t have a black market, and the government’s efforts to stop people from smoking, which is prompting a significant black market of people importing knock-off tobacco from abroad and selling it under the counter. That’s what should be the challenge. Where to set the bar. That we’re arguing over whether there should be a bar at all and seeing people being killed or ruined in the process is a travesty. Whether you’re a Tory or an anarchist, nearly everything in your life, from your clothes to your spice rack, are subject to safety regulations that you, the consumer, benefit from. It is unfair to non-problematic drug users that they cannot be protected under the same legislation.

Global drug survey highlights dangers of prohibition.

The results of “the largest assessment of current drug use ever conducted…” by The Guardian/Mixmag global drugs survey of 15,500 people have recently been made available. The findings of the survey, which we encourage you to read if you have the time, make interesting reading.However, with the mean age of UK respondents being 28 could the findings of this survey reveal changing attitudes towards drugs and how drugs are used?

There were some findings which should definitely send out alarm bells to anybody, no matter their views on current drug policy. Aside from the rise in oxycodone deaths, 15% of respondents said they had taken an unknown white powder over the past 12 months. A third of this group then admitted the powder was supplied by someone they didn’t trust. Younger drug users were the most risk seeking. A fifth of 18-25 respondents said they had taken a mystery powder.

Re:Vision believes these findings highlight several worrying problems about prohibition. Young drug users are often cautious when it comes to speaking about drug use and, more importantly, sensible drug use. With prohibition comes the stigma attached to the label of ‘drug user’ and for many, this encourages covert drug use, with little chance of probing for parental or medical advice. Though it may seem like common sense to you and I to avoid an unknown powder, many young people, who may just be realising that drug use as a whole isn’t the evil it was painted to be, may not know where to draw the line.

Would you take a powder if you weren't sure what it was?

A controlled and regulated market of drugs will minimise not only the problem of the ease of access to advice on drugs, but also the problems of the unknown powder and the untrusted individual. A controlled and regulated marked will ensure that all substances are obtainable by legitimate means at a trusted place of purchase, where any ‘powder’ will be identifiable by the label on the packet and so will its purity. By limiting the possibility of an unknown substance being the only drug at hand, and also heightening the availability and security for those seeking advice, health problems related to drugs would inevitably drop.

Back to the survey, the most popular drug used by UK respondents over the last 12 months was, unsurprisingly, alcohol (95.2%). This was followed by cannabis (68.2%) and tobacco (64.5%). Additionally a third of UK respondents who revealed their usage of prohibited drugs also took sleeping pills and 22.4% had taken the stronger option of benzodiazepines such as temazepan in the last year. Concerns were raised because for example benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers are highly addictive if taken regularly for any length of time. Respondents revealed that zopiclone wasn’t having the effect to help with sleep and so upped the dosage.  

This echoes concerns raised by the Family Doctor Association in a 2011 survey where eight out of ten GPs were aware of prescribing legal drugs to people they thought were addicted to them. Nonetheless GPs expressed concerns that they are required to believe the patient is being honest and is not an addict. More research and support is needed to assist GPs who find themselves in this situation and help contain addiction problems, problems which prohibition only exacerbates.

The survey reveals much about drug consumption and potential concerns, but more information is needed about the wider public’s attitudes towards drug usage and current drug policy. Since The Guardian was responsible for “the largest assessment of drug use ever conducted” it seemed good practice to examine the public’s comments posted on the Guardian website.  It just takes a look at the comments on Barabara Ellen’s article It’s older people’s attitude to drugs that worries me to see the breadth of opinion still out there.

Despite different attitudes to drug use, outlook on life and so on, the comments, for the majority at least, champion freewill and the ability to make informed choices. Some people will make better decisions than others and this is unlikely to completely change regardless of whether substances are legalised or not. What can change however, is the environment in which these decisions are made. Re:Vision believes that a controlled and regulated market would give young drug users the advice and support they needed to make sensible decisions, whilst at the same time minimising risks. If the survey shows us anything, it’s that nothing can work less than current policy.

Please don’t send your stoner teenager to military school!

We were contacted recently by Major Momma, who runs a blog describing how she placed her sixteen year old son in military school last September because, as far as has been implied in her posts, she caught him smoking weed and being a grumpy teenager on his summer break. I have replied to her privately, but it also seemed somewhat important to comment publicly for the benefit of parents who may be considering similar measures.

This post is 'for her own good.'

Re:Vision Drug Policy Network  neither condemn nor condone the use of drugs – we recognise that some people do use drugs, and we seek to mitigate the harmful consequences that drugs and the laws which regulate them can have. We fundamentally disagree that imprisoning your children in a military academy is in any way an appropriate solution to any concerns you may have over their drug use.

The No. 1 thing that teenagers want – that they report, again and again, to researchers – is to have more control over their own lives. They’ve grown up with you deciding what they wear, who they talk to, and where they go. Now they have the ability to leave the house without telling you, they’re going to try that. Now they can stay up late and eat unhealthy food, they’ll probably give that a go. The most important thing that you can do as a parent is to accept that this is part of your child becoming an adult, and your duty is to act like an adult by not going berserk and assuming that you have lost your baby because they’ve stopped telling you every little detail of their lives.

So when it comes to drugs, and I can say this as someone considerably closer to my teen years than most of you reading this, if they’re available, many teenagers (30% of teenagers in the UK, actually) will do them out of curiosity. Health concerns are irrelevant when you think you are immortal. Legal niceties don’t matter when you’re bored. But if your teenager is using drugs, it is not the end of the world. Most teenagers will try a drug or two – alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, whatever –  and stop there. Maybe some will continue, but the fact that you found a lighter in their jeans pocket is certainly not the time to start freaking out about your child becoming a crack addict on the streets turning tricks to get by.

If you do discover your child has been using drugs, and you are against drug use, you have two choices: you can be angry, or you can be relaxed. If you decide anger is the best policy, you can spy on your child, and spy on their friends, looking for ‘signs’ of teen drug use (by the way, getting up late, shuffling non-verbally around the house and angsting about their self-identity is what many non-drug-using teens do most of the time anyway).  You could denounce their actions to your neighbours, and cart them off to military schools away from “bad” influences, and you could also totally destroy your entire relationship with them. We all make mistakes in our youth, but if you go down this road, the manner in which you have chosen to deal with your child’s problems is almost certain to obliterate any honest and open relationship you might have had in the future.

Surely gun use does more damage than drug use.

If your child is lying to you about their drug use, then they are going to continue to lie to you because you have made it clear what happens when they are honest – you go mad, you try to ruin their relationships with their friends, and then you tell all your neighbours about what a terrible person you think they’ve been! If your child feels that they cannot be open with you about their feelings, their activities and their drug use, then they’re not going to stop feeling, acting, or using – they’re just going to stop talking to you about them. Which means that if they’re one of the minority of teenagers who develop serious drug problems, you’re going to end up being the last person to know. And that would be awful.

Alternatively, you could try being relaxed about it. And ‘relaxed’ isn’t synonymous with letting your child do drugs. Drugs, legal and illegal, can mess people up. It’s ok to not want your kids to do anything harder than a McFlurry and it’s ok to let your kids know this. Teenagers are filled with hormones and a heady mixture of arrogance and low self-esteem. They love you, but they don’t want to need you. They want their own life but they want to know what you think of it. Giving your child the space to make their own choices is far more likely to result in them doing what you want them to than if you go all Momma Godzilla on them every time they come home stinking like an ashtray.

If you overreact, so will your child

The first page of the Google search for how to talk to your kids about drugs is filled with some of the dumbest advice I’ve ever heard. “If your child comes home smelling of alcohol, you should tell them in a quiet, unemotional voice that this is an extremely serious matter.” No. It isn’t. What they have done might well have been illegal (although 17 nations have no legal drinking age), but unless they rolled home unable to talk, using alcohol as a teenager is truly unremarkable. I did it, you almost certainly did it, there are teenagers probably doing it right now. Sketching out on your child now means you never see that side of them again, even if they’re struggling with substance abuse. I would be so much more worried if they were coming home every night drunk. Save your words for the twentieth time, not the first.

Or, “Watch a film which portrays drug use with your child, and then ask them if they know any people like those in the film.” Sure, organise some dedicated parent-child bonding time and then make it really awkward by blatantly prying into the lives of their friendship circle. But hey, it’s better than sending your child to military school! Seriously. If you find yourself engaging in elaborate plots to manipulate your child’s actions, please just put down the blueprints for a second and go and hang out with your teenager like a normal human being. They’ll like that, and maybe you’ll understand them a bit better.


Here’s some more realistic advice about how to talk to your kids about drugs, cherry-picked from the National Health Service:

4. Let them know your values and boundaries
It’s important for your children to know where you stand on drug taking. Be clear about your opinions on drugs so that they know your boundaries.

8. Let them know you’re always there for them
That way they can be honest with you about what they’re up to and they won’t just tell you what they think you want to hear.

9. Listen as well as talk
Talking to teenagers can be hard. When you’re discussing drugs, don’t preach or give a speech and don’t make assumptions about what they know or do. Let your child tell you about his or her experiences.

12. Be realistic
It’s common for teenagers to experiment with drugs. Remember that only a small proportion of those who experiment will develop a drug problem.

I am not writing this as a professional, but as someone who only comparatively recently stopped being a teenager and who still has an awesome mother whose response to all of my many faux pas was to hug me and say  “Well, I trust you won’t do anything too stupid.”  And she was right, and I think I probably have a much better relationship with my mum than your child will with you if you don’t respect them. Your responsibility as a good parent is to hold their hand (when not in public) and help them when they stumble, not stunt their growth trying to stuff them into the mould of who you would like them to be. So please recognise your children as a human being equally as worthy of respect as yourself, and likely to make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes will involve drugs, and that is ok.

Commission on Narcotic Drugs celebrates failure

Currently taking place in Vienna, is the 55th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). This commission, which was established at the very first meeting of the League of Nations in 1920, is the central arena for discussion on drug policy and, more importantly, where many decisions about international drug policy are unofficially made. Whilst this may appear to be a genuine chance to promote, and potentially see, real change in international drug policy, it is not the case. The CND, in actuality, is more of a chance for those attending – summarised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as “Ministers and top counter-narcotics officials from the 53 Member States of the Commission” – to cement old opinions and minimally tweak pre-existing policies to appear harder or softer on specific drugs, as has been the case for many years. Though members may be aware of the nearby Drug Peace Festival, it will likely be ignored with a hard-line attitude pushed throughout proceedings.

A chance for change? We doubt it.

One of the scheduled events, which has already taken place, shows precisely how unmoving the CND’s stance on policy is likely to be. Last Tuesday, the members were treated to the most undeserved, self-appreciative pat on the back as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the International Opium Convention, which many see as a precursor to 1961’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Both of these can be fairly argued to be the start point of the failing War on Drugs; An unjust war which, more than any of the drugs it tries to eradicate, has cost lives, damaged the environment and wasted money. Whilst the beginning of this war is being touted as a cause for celebration, the CND cannot be said to be an objective or rational forum to discuss the matter of drug policy.

If you would like to see a drug policy which is more concerned with reducing harm than spreading paranoia, check out our website at revisiondrugs.org and join our Facebook.

International Women’s Day: How the drug war affects women.

The drug war is wrong for many reasons, but as today is International Woman’s Day we have decided to dedicate this post to the drug war and the consequences it creates for women.  International Woman’s Day is about addressing the inequalities that women have to face around the world.  Though much has been done to transform women’s lives, the struggle to free women from patriarchy is far from over; as such, it is important that we do not forget that this issue is still unresolved to this day.

Re:Vision supports International Women’s Day

I’d like to talk first about the discrimination women face from the male dominated, often violent (and therefore paranoid) world of the black market drug trade from a personal perspective.  I have found that women are often turned away or simply have no way to safely introduce themselves to the black market traders. I grew up in South London and went to a comprehensive school  awash with cannabis.  During my time there I was introduced to the drug and decided that I quite liked it.  The only problem was that the only way to get hold of it was through hanging out with the ‘bad boys’ of the school.  I managed to gain their trust through a close male friend who would act as mediator between me and them; it was impossible for me to get hold of things without his presence as I simply wouldn’t have known who to ask and would have been treated with far less respect.  On one occasion, I was told by my male smoking friend that one of the guys I had met, though not spoken a word to, had wanted me to perform oral sex on him and had asked my friend if I would. I feel grateful that I had that male friend there as a mediator as I believe the ‘bad boys’ might not have been so discreet about their desires had he not been there to chaperone.  Nothing about the described situation is good.  Why was I smoking while at school age?  Why were only boys attracted to selling and smoking the herb?  Why was it so easy for them to get hold of it in the first place?  Cannabis is available all over the UK. Many of my male friends who do not smoke often claim it is incredibly easy for them to get hold of a dealer, for me and my female friends it was a different story.  This is just one personal and relatively minor reason the drug war is sexist.

There are many women who have faced far worse problems as a result of this unjust war.  In America women are being put in jail for what is termed “depraved-heart murder”.  Several women have been given life after their babies died before or shortly after birth, the reason?  The mothers are accused of taking drugs, such as cocaine, during pregnancy and had therefore perceived to have murdered their own child.  This is a disgraceful attack on women’s rights and bodies which has no foundation in science.   Women should always be viewed as sovereign over their own bodies.  This means that her own personal autonomy should not be subordinate to the perceived needs of any fetus inside of her.  If the state deems her a ‘bad mother’ then she should be given state support to help her become a better one, however, she does not exist to be a ‘womb-on-legs’ who’s worth to society is measured by the fitness of her offspring.  Furthermore, by being criminalised, pregnant drug users will become alienated and unable to seek help for their addictions; Many women would fear that if they sought support, should their baby die they would be held responsible and find themselves in prison for life.

A human being or a womb on legs?

Another way in which the drug war drastically affect women is in the case of drug mules.  A high percentage of foreign women in UK jails are drug mules – that is people used to transport drugs between borders illegally.  They often come from poor countries and areas involved with the production side of drugs, such as South Africa, Jamaica and Brazil.  Many of these women are coerced into their roles or have dependants who they are struggling to provide for.  It is hard for women in third world countries, who are less likely to have access to a good eduction and more likely to face constant sexism in the job market, to earn enough to provide for their family; especially if they don’t have a male to support them.  These exploited women often face worse charges than those convicted of grievous bodily harm, with the average charge being 30 months longer than GBH sentences according to the report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).  The long stretch of, on average, 84 months leads to alienation from their families who are left behind to struggle without them.  It could be said that this is due to the international nature of the drug war, which seeks to make drug sentencing laws consistent across the world.  Whatever the reason, it is hard to understand why these women are being treated worse than rapists who tend to get on average 79.7 months according to this report.

Recently the United Kingdom’s sentencing council has published new guidelines regarding drug mules, which take into account mitigating circumstances such as coercion and addiction. On deeper inspection of the new guidelines, we can see that the circumstances of the women involved in this black market are consistently ignored in favour of assessing the class, purity and quantity of the drug, as well as how much of a role they have to play in the trade, as a way of estimating sentences.  As ever she is a very bad girl if she moves heroin or a not so bad girl if she moves cannabis; May God help her if she seems to have any involvement in the business other than being a reluctant or unwitting drug mule.  It is a sad fact that the drug war has opened up yet another avenue through which women are being exploited by violent and powerful men.  If we end the drug war and put sensible rational policy in place to close this black market they are profiting from, then women will stop getting caught in this trap we have made for them.

Is imprisoning victims a harm reduction measure?

The darkest side of the drug war, however, has to be its links with the human trafficking industry, which mainly targets women and children who are sold into labour or sexual slavery.  Drug cartels and human traffickers are usually the same people.  The drug cartels take advantage of an impoverished production country – Mexico is a good example – and ship the money and people to richer nations where they can sell them for high profits.  The drug war helps to keep these third world countries in poverty by denying them the chance to create a legal drug industry and creating a black market which empowers men to exploit women and children through lack of regulation.  A regulated industry would supply people with jobs and help the economy through tax revenue, allowing these production countries to regain their dignity.  Impoverished struggling women are given hope that they might find good jobs abroad, only to find themselves at the feet of paying customers whose leaders apparently started this drug war to help them and everyone else.  What is really going on here?  Where is the dignity in this situation?  Human trafficking is a big operation motivated by incredible profit margins and I won’t pretend that ending the drug war will end human trafficking, however, I will say that the drug war has led to this industry’s phenomenal success and continues to supplement it.  Lets stop it now.

At Re:Vision we see any discrimination as a vile act.  All the above are just a few examples of the discrimination women face in this unsuccessful, unjust drug war.  By no means is it only women who are affected by the drug war, but we bear the consequences of many of its failings.  You do not need to be a supporter of drug use to see the discrimination of the drug war and support the push for drug law reform. If you agree with us, or even if you’re still utterly unconvinced, check out our website at revisiondrugs.org/

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!

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