Thursday, July 30, 2009

UKDPC calls for Tactical Strikes in the War on Drugs

In its report "Refocusing Drug-Related Law Enforcement to Address Harms" released today, the UKDPC suggests that we need to get smarter in focusing law enforcement to reduce the harms associated with illegal drugs and illegal drug markets.

In a report supported by both SOCA and ACPO, the main conclusions are:
  • Enforcement has contained illegal drug supply, but more arrests and drug seizures do not always lead to lower availability or fewer problems.
  • However, some innovative approaches have addressed the most harmful characteristics of entrenched drug markets e.g. violence/intimidation.
  • New measures of impact are needed so operations are judged on real benefits to communities, not simply arrests and seizures.
The report suggests very clearly that there are ‘unintended consequences’ of enforcing the drug laws and quotes UNODC chief Antonia Maria Costa from his 2008 paper ‘Fit for Purpose’.

Transform welcomes the report for its clarity in showing that enforcement creates harm and for clearly calling for impact assessments of enforcement activity. As we explained in our recent meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to be meaningful such an assessment must explore all the options.

However, it is Transform’s view that the UK’s domestic strategy on drugs is part of a global ‘war on drugs’, (despite the US Drug Czar and Roger Howard’s claims to the contrary). On the BBC news this morning Roger was at pains to explain that there is no ‘war on drugs’.

Here's the Drug Czar's quote:

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war on them," he said; "We're not at war with people in this country."

Here's Roger's (BBC News): "You can't have a war against your own people and against your own citizens."

The fact is that states can (and do) indeed engage in drug wars against their own and other nations’ citizens. And therein lies the problem with the UKDPC report. Like the conclusion of the report from Costa, it effectively calls for ‘tactical strikes’ in the war on drugs, not an end to the war.

The ‘harms’ in the global drug war are the deaths and degradation of millions of the most marginalised people on earth, and it smacks of propaganda to even use the term ‘harms’. Tactical strikes to reduce damage to civilian bystanders is a nonsense when it is the drug control system itself and the enforcement of supply side laws that creates most of the trouble in the first place.

If we are to truly remove the ‘harms’ caused by the drug control system we do not need smarter weapons, we must end the war on drugs altogether, and replace it with a normative regime based upon human development, human security and human rights – the three pillars of the UN.

See also: on the UKDPC Report - with Transform quote

UKDPC Briefing Paper - Moving towards Real Impact Drug Enforcement


chris said...

"Enforcement has contained illegal drug supply".

Only in fantasyworld.

Antinomian said...

Debaters debate the two wars as if Nixon’s civil war on Woodstock Nation didn’t yet run amok. One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under banner of the war on drugs. If we are all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance credibility.

The witch-hunt doctor’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. As God witnesses (Gen.1:12), its all good. The administration claims it wants to reduce demand for cartel product, but extraditing Marc Emery increases demand. His seeds enable American farmers to steal cartel customers with better product at lower price.

The constitutionality of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) is derived from an interstate commerce clause. This clause is invoked to authorize funding outlaws, endangering homeland security, avoiding tax revenue, and throwing good money after bad. Official policy is to eradicate, not tax, the number-one cash crop in the land. America rejected prohibition, but its back. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

Nixon promised the Schafer Commission would support the criminalization of his enemies, but it didn’t. No matter, the witch-hunt was on. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA halted all research. Marijuana has no medical use, period.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. A specific church membership should not be prerequisite for Americans to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. Denial of entheogen sacrament to any American, for mediation of communion with his or her maker, precludes the free exercise of religious liberty.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Puritans came here to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law must hold that adults own their bodies. Socrates said to know your self. Statutes should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate self-exploration for seekers. Americans’ right to the pursuit of happiness is supposed to be inalienable.

Simple majorities in each house could put repeal of the CSA on the president’s desk. The books have ample law on them without the CSA. The usual caveats remain in effect. You are liable for damages when you screw up. Strong medicine requires prescription. Employees can be fired for poor job performance. No harm, no foul; and no excuse, either. Replace the war on drugs with a frugal, constitutional, science-based drugs policy.

the prof speaks sh*te said...

I am less than impressed with the UKDPC's report. They are trumpeting it as if the idea that enforcement can be deployed within a harm reduction framework is a new idea. But people like Dorn, Murji and South were writing about this in the late 80s and early 90s (none of which is referenced in the UKDPC's report). In fact, even the ACMD produced a report in 1994 which pushed this line (they called it 'community damage limitation' rather than HR but the concept was the same).

I think the UKDPC are just repackaging old ideas and claiming them as their own. There is a word for this, as I regularly remind my students: plagiarism.