“ Inner-city communities are devastated not by drug use but by the same turf-war street violence that accompanied alcohol prohibition and that dramatically decreased once that drug was legalized and regulated. ”
Jack Cole - LEAP
Take action to end prohibition - Make the Government count the cost
Help Transform achieve our 2020 Vision
Lords debate cannabis reclassification
The missing Regulatory Impact Assessment
Recession halts changes to alcohol and tobacco policy
Swiss approve heroin prescriptions
Dutch to debate Government cannabis plantations
Bolivia –DEA expelled
Thanks to those of you who have sent in your MPs’ replies. Some are supportive, some neutral, some opposed. But if any MPs really believe prohibition stands up to scrutiny, they should also support a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to prove it. In any case, they are obliged to pass on your request for one to the Government so let’s get writing!
Please email the below to your friends and colleagues.
Save lives: Help end the Drugs War
UK drug policy criminalises millions, leads addicts to create over half of all crime, maximises damage to health and communities, and destabilises whole countries.
Clearly all-reasonable people want evidence-based drug policies. Yet because the facts might get in the way of “tough on drugs” political posturing, no government anywhere has properly counted the social, economic and health costs of its drug policies, and compared them with alternatives. It is time they did, starting with the UK.
Please pass this email on to your friends and colleagues.
Help Transform Achieve Our 2020 Vision
Transform’s mission is that by 2020 all currently illicit drugs will be controlled and regulated; however, to achieve this goal we need your help. Transform are currently trying to raise funds for a number of projects, including After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for a Regulated Market, which is the final book in our trilogy (after After the War on Drugs: Options for Control and After the War on Drugs: Tools for the Debate) which we are currently writing and planning to widely disseminate. Blueprint will for the first time, provide a detailed vision of how regulated and controlled drug markets will function in a post prohibition world and will demonstrate to policy makers how they can dramatically reduce the harms caused by drugs and failed drug policies. Please help with this by setting up a monthly standing order for £20.20, or of course - as much as you can afford, to help us to accomplish our 2020 vision.
Click here to donate now
Alternatively please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a form with further details about how to make a donation.
If you’ve got some time to spare, and want to help us with our work please sign up to our on-line volunteer community. Here, you can contribute to a number of projects that we’ve posted, or you can share your thoughts on our forum. You can sign up for an account here.
Transform is now on Facebook, please sign up to become our friend or join our cause and we can message you with ways to take action, and news about what we’ve been up to. You can view our page here.
Danny spoke at a film screening of the Channel 4 programme 'Mum, heroin and Me' in Brighton. The programme focuses on Kate McKenzie a mother from Brighton who talks about her 20-year old daughter’s heroin addiction and how it has affected their family. The programme can be downloaded in six parts from YouTube. The first part can be viewed here.
We were invited to attend the screening of the new FRANK Cocaine Campaign in London, which can be viewed here. The video is described by Alan Travis in the Guardian (4 th December) as follows:
"A £1m TV and online anti-cocaine advertising campaign featuring "Pablo the drug mule dog" is to be launched by the government today.
The campaign advertisements, voiced by comedian David Mitchell, are targeted at 15- to 18-year-olds to make them more aware of the risks and harms of cocaine use.
Pablo, a dead dog, wakes up to find he's been used as a drug mule to smuggle cocaine into the country. In an attempt to find out what led to his demise Pablo interviews key players from the world of the drug - the dealer, the user, a bag of cocaine, a heart, a nostril and a bank note.
They highlight the addiction, heart attacks, personality changes, fear and violence involved in the process."
We’ve deconstructed the video in our blog which can be read here. The blog demonstrates how this Frank campaign has once again, confused many of the harms caused by prohibition with those caused by cocaine.
“Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.” Ethan Nadleman, DPA
This month marked the 75 th anniversary of the repeal of the prohibition of alcohol in America. Ethan Nadleman, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance wrote an excellent piece in which he discusses the similarities between the prohibition of alcohol and the current system where drugs are prohibited. The article is well worth a read and can be found here.
Lords Debate Cannabis Reclassification
‘Some 10 years ago I was invited on to the programme ‘Have I Got News For You.’ Not long before I had said in public that I was pro the legalisation of drugs. The man chairing the programme, Mr Deayton, who I think later had to resign when he was caught using cocaine, said in a perky way, “Of course, Lord Onslow, you are pro drugs, aren’t you? I answered by saying, “I am going to respond to the question seriously because the issue is too important for flippancy. Drugs are by far the greatest social problem in the country and they result in the greatest amount of crime.” The policy we have in place at the moment obviously does not work… If we go on with our present drug policies, the prisons will be full and we will produce markets for the ungodly to get rich, and thus continue to cause serious social damage. Incidentally, the whole audience clapped loudly and clearly at my answer. To think that the public take the view of the Prime Minister is not very well informed.” The Earl of Onslow
The government have scored another victory in its battle with the evil weed this month. Jacqui Smith’s decision to reclassify cannabis from class C to B despite the explicit advice of its own experts, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to keep it at C - was supported in the Lord's, the final potential hurdle before the reclassification takes effect in January.
In a last-ditch attempt to postpone the change, Baroness Molly Meacher called a debate in the Lords arguing that not only is the move ill-advised, as use has in fact fallen since the drug was downgraded in 2004 and therefore ironically the shift could lead to increased use, but also this change in the law will lead to more young people being criminalised unnecessarily.
Meacher’s arguments are supported by a group of scientists in a widely reported letter to the Guardian. They urged Peers to maintain the trend of evidence-based policy-making by supporting Meacher's amendment. She argues that cannabis should remain class C and that the evidence should be further reviewed by the ACMD in two years time.
In the end, the House of Lords voted by a majority of 52 against the amendment, which, whilst a disappointment for fans of evidence-based policy (at least in the context of a hopelessly malfunctioning classification system) does at least mean that the endlessly tedious cannabis classification debate won’t drag on for another two years and we can get back to talking about more important things, not least the wider failings of the UK's drug enforcement strategy.
The Missing Regulatory Impact Assessment
In the light of the depressing results from the Lords Debate over cannabis reclassification, it turns out that the government carried out its very own ‘impact assessment’ on reclassification and published it, in almost total secrecy. It can be read here. The document reveals that the Home Office anticipate that cannabis reclassification (back to B) would have significant negative consequences including hundreds of extra incarcerations, a disproportionate impact on the black population, and tens of millions in extra Criminal Justice expenditure. Interesting that the Home Office are none the less pressing ahead with reclassification. More on the story can be read on our blog here or on the UKCIA blog here.
Recession halts changes to alcohol and tobacco policy
Following on from the recent tobacco and alcohol consultations, it seemed like the government were finally starting to take an interest in public health and stricter regulation of these drugs. However, an article in the Times this month, has highlighted that many of the proposed plans to help reduce use have been put on hold, as the government fear that they will alienate voters during the recession. Examples of such plans include proposals to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at discounted prices, and all plain cigarette packaging mandatory (moves that Transform support). It is likely that the Government succumbed to pressure from backbenchers and trade groups who wrongly claim that there is no evidence to suggest that these measures would improve public health and panicked that the moves wouldn’t be popular amongst swing voters.
Swiss Approve Heroin Prescriptions
This month, the world’s most comprehensive legalised heroin programme became permanent following a national referendum in Switzerland where 68% of voters spoke out in support of allowing the regulated legal production and supply of heroin to addicts. The winning argument was that the programme, which was first set up in 1994, and currently benefits about 1300 addicts, has significantly reduced drug-related crime, deaths and HIV rates. You can read more on Paul Flynn MP’s Blog http://paulflynnmp.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/11/swiss-sense.html
Dutch to debate Government Cannabis Plantations
An article in The Independent this month, reported that there are proposals to set up a legal cannabis plantation to supply cannabis to coffee shops throughout The Netherlands. This is an attempt to solve the ’back door’ problem (it is legal to buy up to 5g of cannabis, but the cultivation and supply of cannabis to the coffee shop remains illegal), which has resulted in an illicit industry worth around 2billion Euros.
Rob de Gijzel the Mayor of Eindhoven commented: “It's time that we experimented with a system of regulated plantations so we can have strict guidelines and controls on the quality and price… Authorities must get a grip on the supply of drugs to coffee shops”
How this will work in practice with regards to international law remains to be seen, and the plantation plan will now go to the Dutch cabinet, and undoubtedly faces bureaucratic and political hurdles.
Bolivia –DEA expelled
"We have decided to continue dignifying Bolivia by rejecting any condition on trade"
Evo Morales – President Bolivia
This month, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was given three months to leave Bolivia, accused of espionage and financing the political opposition. Evo Morales claimed that it will now wage its own anti-drug war without US support. In retaliation Bush has announced that America is suspending a key trade pact with Bolivia, which could jeopardise many manufacturing jobs and affect trade between the countries. More on the story can be read here, hereand here.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
'Inner-city communities are devastated not by drug use but by the same turf-war street violence that accompanied alcohol prohibition and that dramatically decreased once that drug was legalized and regulated. Almost one in seven African-Americans are denied voting rights largely because of drug arrests, and countless minorities are denied intact families, college loans, driver's licenses, and jobs because of selective enforcement of a prohibition that, even fairly enforced, prevents no one from using drugs' – Jack Cole Director LEAP
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international not for profit organisation comprised of former and current police officers, government agents and other law enforcement agents who oppose the current War on Drugs. Since being founded in 2002 it now has a membership of over 10,000 in 86 countries.
Rather like Transform, LEAP believes that a system of regulation rather than prohibition would be less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy towards drugs.
LEAP’s goals are:
To educate the public, the media, and policy makers, about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug abuse and the crimes related to drug prohibition and
To restore the public's respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition.
LEAP’s main focus is recruiting knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors to travel and speak to diverse audiences ranging from church groups to law enforcement conferences describing the negative impacts of current drug policies.
This month marked the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the United States and LEAP are using this anniversary as a call to action for those who want an end to drug prohibition. In particular they emphasise a number of key areas where drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition before it, has had a negative effect on society:
1) More people use drugs today than at the beginning of the 'war on drugs'
2) Drugs are more concentrated and potent
3) The murder rate has skyrocketed
4) Organized crime as well as terrorist groups have profited greatly from prohibition
5) People who are addicted to drugs are forced to commit crime in order to fund their habits
6) Public health has suffered
7) Drug money corrupts officials of the state
8) Governments spend huge amounts of their budgets on locking people up
As a first step to ending this disastrous policy, LEAP support what Transform, RAND Corp and the EMCDDA have been calling for - a cost-benefit analysis of the current drugs laws. Please do complete the MP letter described above to help call the government to account.
Transform have written several blogs about the work of LEAP over the past couple of years some of the best can be read here,hereand here.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this newsletter we’d really appreciate it if you could pass it onto your friends. Many thanks.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Easton Business Centre, Felix Rd, Bristol, BS5 0HE, Telephone: +44 (0) 117 941 5810
Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a registered Charity no. 1100518 and Limited Company no. 4862177