Drugs prohibition is a “policy of mass destruction” and the consultation document is a “dodgy dossier”
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 941 5810