Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Drugs prohibition is a 'policy of mass destruction' and the consultation document is a 'dodgy dossier'


Drugs prohibition is a “policy of mass destruction” and the consultation document is a “dodgy dossier”

News release
No Embargo

Date: Monday 22 October 2007

The Government's consultation on the last ten years of its drug strategy and its future, finished last week (Friday 19 October). As part of its submission Transform uses correspondence from officials, previously not in the public domain, to illustrate the Government's knowledge that its support for drugs prohibition creates significant harms. The submission can be read here (pdf)

The submission demonstrates how the Government:

  • manipulated the entire consultation to close down genuine debate on drug policy
  • set the framework in such a way as to have determined the outcome before the consultation had even finished
  • ignored ten years of constant criticism of its drug policy
  • hid internal reports critical of prohibition
  • treats criticism of drug policy with disdain and contempt
  • refuses to evaluate prohibition
  • is a hostage to US inspired geopolitical forces
  • uses drug policy for electioneering

This is despite the fact that the Government admits that prohibition itself is a significant cause of harm. In a letter to Transform's Director Danny Kushlick in Oct 2005, Foreign Office Minister of State the Rt Dr Hon Kim Howells MP wrote:

“Prohibition of course gives rise to illicit trafficking and use and a range of problems associated with those.”

And in a letter to Dr John Marks from the Home Office Direct Communications Unit in September 2007, they admitted that:

“…it is likely that there would be a reduction in acquisitive crime, if drugs were legalised…”

The implication of which is that the Government admits that prohibition creates acquisitive crime. Home Office estimates suggest that crime costs associated with prohibited drugs are about £15 billion a year.

The letter to Dr Marks goes on to say:

“The Government is aware of the arguments for legalising controlled drugs in a regulated way and has concluded that the disadvantages would outweigh the benefits.”

These deliberations on cost benefit analysis have never been made public and, suggest that “arguments” have taken precedence over evidence.

Transform's submission concludes that political parties will not engage in genuine debate and that it is up to individuals from every walk of life to challenge drug policy spin and debate the issue in their workplaces, professional bodies and social circles to avoid another ten years of self inflicted disaster.

Danny Kushlick, Transform Director, said:

“The consultation should have been a thoroughgoing review of the policy making process and the impact that policy has in the everyday world. In the event, it turned out to be a sham. The consultation document is another dodgy dossier. It contained no proposals, breaking one of the fundamental rules for consultations. The document was the most blatant propaganda we have yet seen to support ten more years of prohibition. During the process Gordon Brown announced that cannabis law would be changed and that drugs will never be decriminalised. Lastly, the Government targets were announced, predetermining that the entire framework for future policy development would be unchanged.

“We have an enormous amount of evidence now to show that the Government is in full possession of the facts that the policy of prohibition of currently illegal drugs is the significant driver for harms associated with their production, supply and use. Prohibition is a policy of mass destruction, from Afghanistan and Colombia to London and Liverpool. Transform's submission contains extracts from previously unreleased correspondence from the Foreign Office and the Home Office demonstrating that both departments admit that prohibition causes great harms but that neither are willing to contemplate change. This intransigence is despicable, given the level of chaos and misery associated with the illegal drug market. The correspondence quoted above demonstrates that Government drug policy is explicitly based upon claims to have won an “argument”, rather than evidence. Whilst Government uses primary school debating society rhetoric to decide its drug policy, huge swathes of the global population die or live in misery and degradation as a result.

“In the absence of political parties' willingness to enter into genuine debate, it falls to institutions and individuals outside of government to throw down the gauntlet. Significantly the press has played an enormously valuable role in raising a debate where Westminster has obstinately refused. We believe that this will remain the case for the foreseeable future, until the counterproductive forces of prohibition bring the criminal justice system to its knees and the general public is in possession of the facts and analysis to see through the propaganda that the Government uses to support the status quo.”


Notes for Editors

Transform's submission to the consultation

The letter from the Rt Hon Kim Howells MP can be seen here

The letter to Dr John Marks can be seen here

Transform launches our latest publication ‘After the war on drugs – Tools for the debate' at Portcullis House on Wednesday 24 October. For an invite please email jane@tdpf.org.uk or call 0117 941 5810

‘Drug Policy Unspun: Overwhelming failure' is a briefing produced by Transform to counter the propaganda in the Government's consultation document. It can be seen here

1 comment:

Owen said...

All very depressing yet so very predictable. TDPF have won all the arguments time after time by beavering away and replying to Government consultations. As I said before this ain't enough.

I believe the last count for recreational drug users in the UK was 4.5 million....

That's 4.5 million "criminals" regularly breaking the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which still contains prison penalties for simple possession. Be under no doubt that the courts would use those penalties if they could. But they can't due to sheer weight of numbers.

With 4.5 million potential recruits for funding Transform, one would think they would be one of the richest charities around.

However the "Trustees" don't think it is a good idea to pro-actively market to, and fundraise from, those 4.5 million potential donors; at least 5% of which are likely to be millionaires.

Apparently they think Transform should maintain a low profile and struggle on with a diet of peanuts and goodwill. Meanwhile it's business as usual for the prohibitionists with no sign of any real change.

Maybe the "Trustees" should read a book on marketing or brand development or generally any business book on how to grow a corporation with a potential customer base of 4.5 million.

Or maybe Transform need some new Trustees who actually live in the real world and want to see the aims of Transform actually become a reality one day.

FUNDRAISE, roll out mass market ad campaigns, full page ads in national press on a weekly basis, lobbying for change, lobbying the public and the elites for money to do more lobbying, become a multi-million pound operation.

The alternative is to continue with same strategy, living on peanuts, scribbling off responses to pointless consultations and spend the next 10 years have the same impact as the last 10 years....