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Powerful Backing To End Drug Prohibition

Comment 20th July 2010

On a day that news headlines turned to the failure of the war on legal highs, we can now see powerful endorsements that the illegal drug war has failed and that regulation of drugs would  have "substantial public benefits". 

The British Medical Journal and the chair of the Bar Council have supported new methods on drugs:$21381761.htm



Experts turn against war on drugs

By Ian DuntMonday, 19, Jul 2010 03:38

Advocates of drug law reform had reason to celebrate today after public statements by senior figures in the medical and legal community suggested the argument was turning in their favour.

The chair of the Bar Council argued in his most recent report that decriminalising drug use would have substantial public benefits, while the editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the UK's most well-respected medical publication, came out publicly in support of drug law reform.

The twin developments come at an exciting time for those calling for a more liberal drug policy. Both deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and prime minister David Cameron are on record questioning the effectiveness of Britain's drug laws. Activists hope reform might be in the pipeline.

In his most recent report the chair of the Bar Council, Nicholas Green QC, argued that decriminalising drugs did not lead to greater use and would have the effect of cutting crime.

"A growing body of comparative evidence suggests that decriminalising personal use can have positive consequences; it can free up huge amounts of police resources, reduce crime and recidivism and improve public health," he said.

"All this can be achieved without any overall increase in drug usage. If this is so, then it would be rational to follow suit. And this will save money and mean that there is less pressure on the justice system.

"A rational approach is not usually the response of large parts of the media when it comes to issues relating to criminal justice," he continued.

"This is something the Bar Council can address. We are apolitical; we act for the prosecution and the defence and most of the judiciary are former members. We can speak out in favour of an approach which urges policies which work and not those which simply play to the gallery."

The comments came at the same time as a special edition of the BMJ in which the editor, Fiona Godlee, endorses an article by Steve Rolles of Transform, a group which lobbies for reform of the UK's drugs laws.

"In a beautifully argued essay Stephen Rolles calls on us to envisage an alternative to the hopelessly failed war on drugs," she writes.

"He says, and I agree, that we must regulate drug use, not criminalise it."

Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform, said: "The war on drugs is in deep crisis. These comments show that support for drug policy reform is becoming more and more mainstream, and fundamental change is now inevitable.

"With a prime minster and deputy prime minister both longstanding supporters of alternatives to the war on drugs, at the very least the government must initiate an impact assessment comparing prohibition with decriminalisation and strict legal regulation."

In 2007, Mr Clegg – then Lib Dem home affairs spokesman – said the "so-called war on drugs is failing" following a critical RSA report into drug prohibition.

David Cameron voted in favour of recommendation 24 in the home affairs committee's inquiry into drug misuse in 2002, which read: "We recommend that the government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways-including the possibility of legalisation and regulation-to tackle the global drugs dilemma."

Activists may be disappointed if they expect a sea-change in policy on the back of the coalition government's legislative agenda, however.

While Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron have previously expressed a sympathetic view of the arguments calling for drug law reform, neither will be keen to trigger the media attack which would result from a move to liberalise drug laws.

Recent comments from home secretary Theresa May to the home affairs committee suggest the government is moving in precisely the opposite direction, and is ready to pass legislation allowing for temporary bans to be imposed on legal highs while the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) establishes their legal status.

Why does this matter?

This endorsement needs to be seen by the general populace to show that drug law repeal is not exclusive to the stereotyped myths that inevitably come with such a subject matter.  Regulating drugs does not spiral a nation into debauchery. 

The repeal of current drug law is for the greater good of community, this is the point often overlooked when the perplexing "pro" and "anti" argument wage a war.  The drug laws have failed.  The British Medical Journal and the Bar council have much respect and standing, their advice should be heeded.

More research from the British Medical Journal can be found here:


The evidence for drug reform is overwhelming.  The House Of Lords recently debated whether the current laws are working:


£19 Billion is spent per year on this futile war, the drug war is counter-productive and actually adds to societies issues tenfold.

A regulatory system is not a leap into the unknown, it is experiment gone right.  Many European countries have adopted this approach, and it works!  Most notably; the Portugal Project.  However, prohibition is the experiment gone wrong, the system was a radical way of thinking of its day with no evidence to support it.  We now have collated evidence after 90 years, and it is conclusive.  Prohibition, as in 1920's America, has failed catastrophically.

I respectfully ask the media to NOT push self agenda and manipulate facts, the British public need true information and not attention grabbing headlines designed to initiate a grumble.  As our police force whittle down in numbers and gangs and cartels grow stronger due to their relentless grip on society, we are heading for a communal implosion.  We've buried our heads in the sand for too many years for political point scoring, we now need end partisan bias and sort this mess out.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, (L.E.A.P) are a group of senior police officers from both sides of the Atlantic who also campaign for change, can all of these voices be ignored?

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