Thursday, March 03, 2011

Upcoming event: 'A ceasefire in the war on drugs'

Transform's senior policy analyst, Steve Rolles, will be amongst the speakers at the second event in the 'Ceasefire in the war on drugs?' debate series organised by the University of Bedfordshire, joining former chief constable Tom lloyd, and the UK's Colombian Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez Munera. Titled 'How the world's view of the drugs 'war' is changing', the event is at Kings College London at 6pm on the 6th of April. The event is are free and open to all (but space is limited).

For more details, including speakers at both events, please see the flyer below (click to see full size). 


Anonymous said...

Typical of these events for professionals, no comments, no interest.

Sunshine Band said...

It is good that 'professionals' are talking, and I have become withdrawn from saying my piece because it would only piss them off! Well, just to fill in the empty spaces - When will they at least bother to stop calling it a 'war on drugs'? The very expression is an insult and stupid. On top of that they manage to talk about legalising drugs - please please remember it is a war on people. 'De-criminalising drugs' is the one that really winds me up, drugs being criminals. I've only been saying this for three years, you'd think someone would take notice only to shut me up. Sadly too many people have dismissed this point, but yet they haven't grasped that the whole drugs administration vests on this false notion of 'illegality' - the artificial divide exists purely because apparently the misuse of alcohol and tobacco is done by people who are exempt from the law becasue of their interest is in 'legal drugs'. We will never progress whilst the reform industry continues to inadvertently perpetuate these lies.

Steve Rolles said...

Ive copmpletely grasped it - I just think its obvious and not important or useful. I think the other work you do is very important and dont think you should continue to labour this point.

gart said...

@ Steve,

I apologise for being out of topic, but has just read your comment on the Home Office Drug Strategy blog. As David Oliver has made it clear the opportunities to participate with comments in that blog is rather "limited" I would appreciate it you let me know whether you share the following comment I made regarding David Oliver's reply to your comment:

@ David Oliver,

I would appreciate it if you could let us know whether your «evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness and value for money of the Drug Strategy» will be as thorough and comprehensive as the Impact Assessment made on this very 2010 Drug Strategy?

If you do, would you put it forward (the point about the Impact Assessment, that is)?

Gart Valenc

David said...

I know this is completely off-topic, but I've just tried to post a comment on the Home Office Drug Strategy blog, only to have it automatically rejected on the grounds of it containing offensive language - and the automatic rejection message did not give any indication of what exactly the offensive language was. I also couldn't find any address to email to ask where the offence lay. Does anyone here know who that person might be?

(for the record, my comment, in response to Trevor's 'well done for not legalising cannabis...' was as follows:

"This gets some fairly fundamental principles of justice backwards. The fact is that the case for criminalising the use of cannabis has never been made. What research was done when the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was formulated? What efforts were made to scientifically determine whether the risks of cannabis use were so severe as to justify subjecting those who use it to criminal penalties? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the answer is none.

In any society that aspires to justice, the default position must be that no one should be subject to criminal penalties unless there is compelling reason to believe that their behaviour deserves punishment. I have never heard a compelling case for why informed adult users of cannabis deserve punishment. Maybe you can explain it to me, but you must remember that 'cannabis causes X health risks' is not on its own enough to show why people who choose to run such health risks deserve to be punished - you must show how you get from the uncontroversial premise that cannabis poses health risks to the radically utopian conclusion that outlawing those who use it is a humane and proportionate response.

Can you imagine what we would now say of our legislators in 1967, to pick another imaginary crime, if they had said 'the case for legalising homosexuality has not been made'? We would certainly condemn them for failing to realise that the criminalisation of homosexuals had been a centuries-long injustice. The criminalisation of users of certain drugs is so far only a decades-long injustice, but it is widely recognised as a comparable one."

If that comment is considered unsuitable for the Home Office to read, then I submit that we have reached a very sorry impasse.)

Steve Rolles said...

They have at least made it clear that they wont be including any more law reform posts having included a selection. I think this is extremely poor form - stifling of debates they dont wish to hear, and censorship of legitimate debate which is clearly and very specifically about the drug strategy. I will be posting again and will copy it here and maybe blog about it - if, as i expect, they refuse to post it.

Anonymous said...

We need to get the debate right into the heart of our communities.

Setting up events around the country and showing that there is an alternative to current policy would be a start!


gart said...

According to David Oliver response to your comment on the Home Office Drug Strategy blog:

«The Government is currently developing an evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness and value for money of the Drug Strategy»

I'm wondering what is your opinion on the Home Office previous "evaluation" attempts, in particular the Impact Assessment they made on this very 2010 Drug Strategy.

Gart Valenc

Peter Reynolds said...

The Drug Strategy blog is just tokenism. It allows the HO to claim that it is engaging with its publics and being responsive and open.

It's hogwash. Nothing but political spin. Britain now has one of the most regressive, authoritarian and oppressive drug policies anywhere in the world. Only in places where they execute people for drug possession such as Malaysia or China are there more backwards, unjust and outdated ideas being implemented.

gart said...

I apologise for being rather off-topic again, but I think the debate last night in the House of Lords on a Royal Commission on drugs policy illustrates very well how dismissive the government is when it comes to debating its drug policy.

There is one thing, and one thing only, this “debate” clearly demonstrates, and that is how appalling the whole UK drug policy is. How much more dishonest, patronising and blatantly cynical can it get? Forget about how uncomfortable or unconvinced she may have been, Baroness Neville-Jones’ response just shows where the problem in tackling drug policy in this country lies: the government will not give up!

But it is not just “stubbornness” what makes the whole saga so disheartening. It is the fact that people with public responsibilities are allowed to say whatever they want, irrespective of whether that is backed by facts and evidence, and still there is no way of forcing that individual to deal with the evidence and pay the consequences for being disingenuous, economical with the truth or just simply being a liar. And that’s what the Baroness in question, and many others before her, both in this government as well as previous ones, have been doing day in and day out. It is not just petty officials, it goes to the top of the tree: ministers, secretaries and the Prime Minister himself.

The question is: how we can make our voice count, how can we make those officials accountable, how can we FORCE the government to listen and act accordingly?

Gart Valenc

Gart Valenc
March 10, 2011 at 12:25

gart said...

@David Oliver,

What confidence can one have that the Home Office and the UK government are going to take any evidence into account regarding the current drug policy when:

1. It rejects science (sacks Dr. David Nutt) and appoints superstitious advisers (Hans Christian Raabe and Sarah Graham),

2. It has implicitly stated that drug policy does not need to be based on science by removing the requirement on the home secretary to appoint at least six scientists to the ACMD committee,

3. It has effectively rejected the need for an independent review of current drug policy (see Baroness Neville-Jones’ intervention last Wednesday in the House of Lords debate),

4. The Home Office have made a mockery of what an Impact Assessment is meant to be by purporting that what it did regarding the 2010 Drug Strategy amounted to one, and

5. As you have explicitly stated in this blog all that matters is the implementation of the drug strategy, for «This Government does not believe that liberalisation and legalisation are the answer»

Gart Valenc

Anonymous said...

All you need to see if the post by 'Tom', who responded to "A further update by David Oliver", I copy the post in it's entirety :


"The means by which alcohol is regulated is embedded in historical tradition and the tolerance of responsible consumption".

I must take issue with you here, I thought you were using evidenced based policy, not historical precedent?

Are you saying you are using historical and cultural precedent over evidence?

Looks like it to me.