In today’s Prime Minister’s Questions Lembit Opik MP requested a meeting with the PM to propose a full impact assessment of current drug policy.
His full question was:
“A new European Commission report on drugs shows that despite prohibition the illegal drugs trade has thrived, creating what the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, describes as a “staggering” criminal market, destabilising health policies and entire countries.
“As such, will the Leader of the House please convey my request to meet the Prime Minister to propose a comprehensive impact assessment of current drugs policy, to help us tackle this crisis in an evidence-based way?”
In response, Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House, answering on behalf of the Prime Minister who is this week attending the G20 conference, said:
“I will pass on his request to the Prime Minister who I’m sure will agree that we need to make sure that every bit of support is available to those who are addicted to drugs and we need to crack down hard on dealers.”
UK drug enforcement policy is unique in terms of delivering the exact opposite of its intended outcomes, consistently, for decades - massive levels of drug misuse, health damage, and crime. This huge expenditure is also unique in the lack of scrutiny it has been subject to with regards to cost effectiveness or attempts to quantify these unintended negative consequences. Such scrutiny is long overdue and we welcome this initiative from Mr Opik
A full impact assessment laying out and counting the costs of current drugs policy in a structured and detailed way for the first time, would be a significant step towards making future policy evidence-based – and therefore more effective, just and humane.
Transform has long been calling for a full Cost Benefit of Analysis (CBA), which an impact assessment would be part of, comparing current UK drug policy with alternatives. We would like the UN to orchestrate a similar initiative at the global level. At a recent All Party Parliamentary Group on the Mis-use of Drugs meeting Transform laid down a challenge to all: support this approach, or don’t pretend you are interested in having evidence-based drugs policy.We will be publishing our own UK oriented CBA soon, laying out the best evidence available, and the gaps in research that should be filled, so watch this space.