Nigella Lawson Columnist, food writer and TV presenter
“..whatever one feels about alcohol or any other drug, it appears to be the case that the desire for intoxication is innate in humans. Any primitive society investigated by anthropologists depicts peoples who either danced themselves into whirling states of frenzy or who ate berries calculated to induce hallucinations (or both). Both my children, from the age when they were barely stable, used to twirl themselves around until they fell down helplessly dizzy. I agree, just because something is innate doesn't make it good, but whatever, prohibition can never be the answer.”
(Taken from our ‘Hall of Fame’ – browse through quotes from the great and the good who support reform of current drug policy:
Tis the season of colds and chills, but hey there are some signs of Spring in the air…
On the drug policy front, February saw the leaking of the second half of the Number 10 Strategy Unit suppressed report. The phase 1 report was leaked last July and was a detailed description of the failings of prohibition. Phase 2 just goes to show exactly how this analysis was ignored and somehow twisted into the draconian demand side crackdowns of the Drugs Bill 2005 – it’s revealing if depressing reading.
Plus it’s all kicked off in conservative America. A huge annual conference happened to include a talk on drug legalisation, and sent rumblings through the heart of conservative US. More below…
As always – please remember that you can do a lot more than just read this newsletter – discuss the issues on the Transform forum, publicise Transform and the website, make a donation, read the what you can do bit *see bottom of the news letter*, and get active!
-Please keep your comments, ideas, parliamentary/media contact and stories coming. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ,
-Pass this onto your friends; subscribers can join by visiting: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Contact.htm
-All previous newsletters are viewable on our website should you have missed them or only just signed up: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Newsletter.htm
-Make a donation – as ever we need financial support to maintain the organisation…set up a regular donation online here: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/index_online_giving_links.htm
Thanks for reading! Until next month,
----1. UK NEWS-----
---- 2. INTERNATIONAL NEWS ----
----3. WHAT TRANSFORM HAS BEEN UP TO-----
*An email we received
*Prohibition is the problem - Find out who’s part of the solution
*Transform in the news
---- 4. WHAT YOU CAN DO ----
*Become a Trustee!
*Write to your MP if you have one – or visit them!
*Get active online
*Help with our fundraising!
----1. UK NEWS-----
The science and technology select committee is taking a serious look at the scientific basis for the drug classification system:
‘SCIENTIFIC ADVICE, RISK AND EVIDENCE: HOW GOVERNMENT HANDLES THEM'
"The inquiry will focus upon the mechanisms in place for the use of scientific advice (including the social sciences) and the way in which the guidelines governing the use of such advice is being applied in practice across Government. It will test the extent to which policies are “evidence-based”.
The Committee will carry out this inquiry by addressing the questions below in a series of case studies. The first three case studies to be addressed are:
Transforms submission to the inquiry is here (feedback is welcomed):
Transform press release:
Read the full text of the Committee grilling the Professors who head the Advisory Council on the subject of classification, here (it makes very interesting reading – more details next month…):
“The Guardian published a confidential report on drugs from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. The report comprises the second phase of a reporting process that began with a report released in July of last year that showed that the so-called ‘war on drugs’, (particularly supply-side enforcement of the drug laws) was the cause of many of the problems associated with heroin and cocaine.”
For more see Transform news:
The Guardian news article :
Some follow up reporting
The report in full (pdf):
Independent - letters - 08.02.06
Sir: You reported (31 January) on the approach of the international community to eradicate the poppy crops in Afghanistan by massive spraying. The UK is planning to spend £20m a year, using some of the 6,000 troops being sent to the country.
This is a waste of precious military resources and a short-sighted attitude to a deep-rooted problem. The rural economy is struggling to recover from years of abusive rule and conflict. Instead of spending millions of pounds a year destroying crops, why not use the money to buy up the Afghan poppy crop and use it in the production of morphine for medical purposes?
Such a policy would spare scarce peacekeeping forces for the duties they were trained for, provide Afghan farmers with a reasonable and honest living and prevent drug cartels from acquiring the raw materials that fuel the heroin trade.
GRAHAM WATSON MEP
Leader Of The Alliance Of Liberals And Democrats European Parliament, Brussels
::Should you have a letter/article/comment published – let us know and we’ll include it in the newsletter.
“The Armed Forces has secretly lifted its blanket ban on the use of Class A drugs, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal….The new rules come as the Army faces recruitment problems, blamed largely on the unpopularity of the war in Iraq.”
View from Eire:
“It seems now that the various organs of the State are implementing a ‘mammy knows best’ approach to this area of social policy and, in so doing, are driving drug-related problems further underground, wasting Garda time and resources, criminalising drug users, and maintaining an Orwellian interest in the personal habits of citizens.”
To find out how the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs came to their decision (not to reclassify cannabis – again), and what evidence they used, read this critical overview of the report by Russell Newcombe:
And this US article shows how the media can misinform the public, in this case around the emotive issue of the cannabis and mental health:
“ Albert Hofmann, The father of LSD, is 100 years old….. Certainly LSD is no ordinary substance. Its reputation in some circles is positively demonic. In the UK it is a Class A drug, and in the United States there are prisoners locked up for 20 and 30 years for taking it. Yet the city of Basel gave its discoverer a birthday reception, the Swiss President wrote him a letter; and in his home village children sang special birthday songs, and a bench was erected with his name on”.
See Dr Susan Blackmore’s full article here:
http://forum.tdpf.org.uk/forum/ - Discuss the latest news stories on the transform discussion forum
http://www.dailydose.net - excellent daily/weekly round up of news (free subscription), links and a peerless searchable UK drug news archive.
http://www.thehempire.com - Cannabis news (and wider drug issues), quality free monthly news email and great website. The best and most up to date of the cannabis oriented sites.
Release (“Drugs, the law and human rights”) have just started a newsletter. Read their 2 nd here:
It looks lovely too…
‘Special’ BBC focus on Drug production/trafficking & users around the world:
---- 2. INTERNATIONAL NEWS ----
The result is a brilliant, often hilarious critique of the failings of the drug war and a clear call for legalisation and regulation. Heavily US focused and *WARNING* containing lots of swearing (a treat for those who work for respectable charities and aren’t allowed to swear in public) this is well worth half an hour of your time.
You can watch it online here:
Walter Cronkite Urges People to Oppose Failed Drug War; Calls for New Policies Based on Science, Compassion, Health and Human Rights
Walter Cronkite, the man dubbed "the most trusted man in America," sent out a passionate letter to over 100,000 people on February 23rd asking them to help end the war at home- the drug war- by supporting the non-profit organization, the Drug Policy Alliance.
In his appeal, Cronkite recounted his experiences covering the Vietnam War. "I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost-and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along."
Mr. Cronkite also pointed out that in addition to the current war in Iraq, there is a devastating war right here in the United States, the US Drug War.
"Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home," Cronkite wrote. "While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its causalities are the wasted lives of our own citizens. I am speaking of the war on drugs."
Mr. Cronkite explained his reasons for opposing the current drug war policies. "And what is the impact of this policy? It surely hasn't made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people...disproportionately people of color...who have caused little or no harm to others-wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.
Read the full article here: http://drugsense.org/temp/part2875.html
WAR ON DRUGS - IS IT REALLY 'RIGHT'?
CPAC, the massive Conservative Police Action Conference, half pep rally and half conservative family reunion” took place in February. The reason for its importance is that it dealt with “America's 35-year campaign to rid the nation of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs”. Ethan Nadelman from the Drug Policy Alliance attended, as well as the likes of Dick Cheney and Ann Coulter.
And for some journalistic balance here’s some views from the conservative side:
and for an excruciating read, where drug legalisation is allied to a “societal death wish”:
And just so you know how reactionary some of these views are – here’s The Drug Policy Alliance’s response to articles like the two above:
And the DPA’s ‘Right response to the war on drugs’:
Visit the SSDP website:
“Eradication last year was something of a joke, nearly all agree. The police brought in tractors to plow up the poppy fields, but much of it grew back and the farmers still managed to harvest a crop, Mr. Sherzad said. The police can also be bribed to leave part of the crop, said the villagers, out of the hearing of the police.”
Full article here:
*Drug Policy Alliance - http://www.drugpolicy.org/
With Ethan Nadelman as the director, it is this organisation that has caused some of the controversy in the US annual Conservative meeting.
*Drug Sense – http://www.drugsense.org
“Moving the debate on drugs from insanity to humanity” apparently. Part of the Media Awareness Project, MAP, an American organisation collating news and information on drugs. A good one stop shop for all things drug, including the issues, books, forums, blogs, activism ideas, newsletters and more.
* Students for sensible drug policy - http://www.ssdp.org/
“With hundreds of thousands of Americans behind bars for drug offenses, why are drugs purer and more prevalent than ever? With billions of dollars invested in incarceration and interdiction, why are treatment needs continually unmet? Why has the government sacrificed our freedom, safety, and health to the Drug War?
Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.“
**Thought you might like to see an email we received recently:
“Thanks for sending us the monthly bulletins. I work in a large London prison which I would say holds between 80-90% of heroin & crack addicts, who are part of the revolving door process. I believe that the only solution to halve the 80,000 prison population would be to prescribe either for free or very low cost, heroin & crack to addicts. Although this would be a huge bill for the NHS, the money saved from the revolving door process could be diverted to the NHS and treat drug addiction as the health problem that it is.
Some may see the solution as wiping all Coca and Opium plants world-wide however, even if this unrealistic aim was achieved, wouldn't these drugs be created synthetically in a laboratory somewhere?
Keep up the good work.”
**FIND OUT WHO’S PART OF THE SOLUTION:
Transform has launched an archive of quotes – supportive of drug law reform - collected over a number of years from Politicians, Opinion formers, Criminal Justice, Celebrities, the non-governmental sector & religious leaders.
Read the impressive list(s) here:
Any suggested additions? Send them, with references please, to email@example.com
**THE BEST DRUG POLICY BOOKS IN THE WORLD, EVER!
*New Tory book says legalising and regulating drugs is the way ahead:
“ In one of a series of essays in The Blue Book, edited by Murdo Fraser, the Tories' deputy leader, Iain Catto, a lawyer and former Tory councillor, argues that politicians ban drug-taking because they are "fearful of being seen as soft on drugs".
For the full article click here:
*Transform’s must-read book List:
NEW briefings - February 2006
Clause 2 of the Drugs Act - an example of how to make bad policy
Other recent publications:
*Our Publicity Leaflet! Copies are available in print – get in touch if you would like one, or even a whole bunch of them. You can download a pdf version from here: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Parliament_WhatYouCanDo.htm#leaflet
*Our shiny ANNUAL REPORT is here!
And boy, if you like annual reports, you’ll love this one…(WARNING: *Transform showing off content*) A pdf version is available here, and get in touch if you’d like a copy all your own : http://www.tdpf.org.uk/AboutUs_AnnualReport.htm .
*“AFTER THE WAR ON DRUGS - OPTIONS FOR CONTROL” –also available in Spanish and Portuguese!
Transform’s groundbreaking report examines the key themes in the drug policy reform debate, detailing how legal regulation of drug markets will operate and providing a roadmap and time line for reform. The report can be downloaded as a pdf from:
We’re currently in the midst of a third update and re-print, so printed copies will be available mid March. Contact us to reserve a copy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 941 5810
PARLIAMENTARIANS GUIDE TO DRUG POLICY
**Transform is currently seeking funding to produce a ‘Parliamentarians guide to drug policy’ – to inform the debate, empower reformers in Parliament, and provide the basis for future training programmes Transform will be running for policy makers.
As ever we urgently need funding….ideas, contacts and suggestions are always welcome, and please - if you haven’t already - sign up online to make a regular donation to the organisation. It really can make a difference. http://www.tdpf.org.uk/support_Transform.htm
Our secure online donation page administered by the Charities Aid Foundation. Donations can be one off or regular, large or small. Please give generously - we need your support. (Transform relies solely on donations from individuals and charitable trusts to maintain its work)
*TRANSFORM IN THE MEDIA*
We did pretty well in February and were seen in/on :
BBC News 24 talking about Pete Doherty
The Guardian being quoted on the release of the 2 nd half of the strategy unit report:
Drink and Drug News featured Transform not once but twice! One article quoting Danny on the Strategy Unit report (p5) and another written by Danny entitled “How much longer before we tackle prohibition head on?” (p11)
Radio Humberside talking about Cannabis & mental health
The Guardian ran another article on the Strategy Unit, quoting Transform:
The Socialist Worker paper ran an article on the Strategy Unit report:
Radio 5 Live on the reported increasing cocaine use in Britain, and should we legalise it.
Drugs & Alcohol today will be running an article on the SU report, but that may be next month!
OOOOO – and a BIG one for the March newsletter! But you’ll just have to wait and see – or check the Transform website for details.
Transform have recruited a number of trustees, but are still looking for a couple of highly experienced individuals to join our Board of Trustees.
You will need expertise in at least one of the following fields: human resources/personnel, business or voluntary sector management, finance, fundraising or organisational change.
**GET TO WORK ON YOUR MP.
If you haven’t done this yet – Get on with it! You pay their wages to represent your views. Write to them, email them, pay them a visit. Its easy and effective campaigning…..
**FIND OUT HOW YOUR MP VOTES
Every week, a dozen or so times, your MP votes in the UK Parliament. This is their definitive exercise of power. The Public Whip extracts their voting record from the pages of the Parliamentary transcript so that you can see it and hold them to account.
Start off by writing to your MP/councillor and ask them their views on the current drug policy. Ask their opinion on the ‘War on Drugs’, the fact that it isn’t working and what they think should be done. They have a duty to reply, and then you can begin a dialogue. Remember always to be polite however much you may disagree with them!
Book a visit to their surgery - you can meet with them and discuss any issue that you fancy. Its really easy! One of our volunteers visited his MP recently, who just happened to be Charles Clarke – the Home Secretary! The meeting was very positive, and various Transform materials were passed on. Transform provided a detailed briefing and training before the visit. Call us for help.
Do you know who your MP is?! They may have changed since the election. Find out
**Try writing/e-mailing your local paper or a national paper. Look out for drug related stories in newspapers (and other publications) and respond in the letters pages. Here’s evidence to show it works: we promise ‘DJ Welch’ is not a put up job, he wrote to the Observer of his own volition:
Transform representatives regularly visit there MPs, and with our help have had very productive discussions. Its one of the most effective and easiest things you can do. Transform supporters have eeven had meetings with ministers including the Home Secretary.
The internet gives you the opportunity to engage the drug law reform debate as never before. There are literally thousands of online forums, discussion groups, and media feedback opportunities where you can get involved and inject a little common sense into the debate.
A number of MPs now have fairly fancy websites where you can post comments or discuss issues on forums. Check out http://www.shaunwoodward.com/go/Issues/Issue_2.html for example. Transform’s Steve Rolles has posted a few times there. Check whether your MP has a website (and if he doesn’t email them anyway).
The BBC are running a ‘have your say’ show on the drug war and there is an accompanying online discussion. Almost all postings so far are pro reform. Post here!: http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?threadID=1261&start=0&&&edition=1&ttl=20060313111728
*A new discussion forum has popped up on the Government drugs site – no ones really used it yet so maybe it needs some Transform supporters to help liven it up a bit. Have a go – and let us know what response you get…
*Try some other unlikely places…… The Daily Mail for example; a long time bastion of reactionary Drug War thinking has recently begun to open up to more progressive policy ideas. Whether you like the paper or not, the fact remains that it is highly influential in Whitehall and read by millions of floating voters. Many news stories and opinion pieces offer an opportunity to add comments at the end – so if you see a drug story that you think doesn’t tell the whole story – let them know! http://www.dailymail.co.uk
*Guardian Talk – a good place to start – there’s usually a few good drug policy threads and if you cant find any – start one! (you need to register for this site)
*THEY WORK FOR YOU: A brilliant independent website doing what Hansard should be doing – ie providing easy access to parliamentary debate and publications. You can post commentaries next to MPs comments in the house. Searchable by MP or by key words you can add your own comments to any comment made by anyone in the house. There are frequent debates on drug issues (you can set up an email alert on any individual or key word) so do a search, find some incoherent warblings from some misinformed MP - and set them straight! http://theyworkforyou.com/
*For more help with raising awareness through the media see below and the ‘What you can do page’ on the TDPF site here;
For further advice please call the Transform office on 0117 941 5810. Send in your media tips, suggestions for web activism warnings, successes and failures - we’ll include them here.
Please pass this newsletter onto your friends - subscribers can join by visiting:
For other ideas and more details on what you can do see :
For more information and analysis: www.tdpf.org.uk
Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a registered charity no: 1100518
The organisations, agencies, and information linked from www.tdpf.org.uk represent a variety of viewpoints from across the drug policy field. Transform is not responsible for the contents of sites linked on this newsletter, and does not automatically endorse linked information. Any suggested additions or corrections please email email@example.com
If you have received this mail in error, or if would like to unsubscribe from the list, just click reply/e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘unsubscribe me‘ as the subject.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation
To subscribe to Transform's newsletter visit: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Contact.htm
This document accompanying this transmission may contain confidential information, which may be legally privileged. This information is intended for the use of the named individual. You are notified that any disclosure, copying and distribution is prohibited. If you receive this message in error please delete it.