Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why it is sometimes better to broadcast than engage

In its recent submission (pdf) to the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) Consultation on Sentencing for Drug Offences, Transform endorsed Release’s submission (pdf) and made a call for the entire Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to be reviewed, using the Impact Assessment framework.

We are well aware that this call falls outside of the SAC’s remit, so you might wonder why we bothered submitting at all. There are two basic reasons for taking this approach:

1. We are keenly aware that organisations like Release have far greater expertise and experience in the law. And we are supportive of their submission.

2. Sometimes it is more important to repeat a campaign position such as, the need to evaluate the outcomes of the Act than to engage with the detail of a consultation.

We find it hard to understand how the Ministry of Justice can contemplate tinkering with the detail of an Act whose operation is so blatantly counterproductive and discriminatory. It is the same approach that we took with regard to an earlier consultation with the Sentencing Advisory Panel (which the SAC replaced).

Now that the European Commission has decided to conduct an Impact Assessment of so-called ‘legal highs’, we hope that our call will begin to have more…impact.


Sunshine Band said...

By complaining about the Act, you let the government off the hook. It's their administration of it that's at fault, not the Act itself!

Anonymous said...

an impact assessment can look at the administration of the act as well.

Anonymous said...

this is a call on the Government to conduct a review of the optimum control mechanism for all drugs.

Don't tell me you have a problem with that.

Sunshine Band said...

Anon #1 - good, this needs to be the focus

Anon #2 - actually I do take issue with the mistake that drugs are controlled in fact, yes there is a category of so-called "controlled drugs", and this is the correct legal term. However it's vital to recognise that drugs and medicines form an 'intimate' relationship between product and user, and of course it is the user who is subjected to law (as are suppliers, growers,producers etc) as opposed to the drugs being legal or illegal in themselves. I don't mind talking about large scale user-remote operations such as manufacturing and distribution of drugs being described as regulation of the respective drugs, but don't lose sight of what is actually happening regarding drug users, it is these PERSONS who are being regulated, criminalised etc. If we are going to impact positively with this we must point out that it's not the arbitrary criminalisation of drugs that is at stake, but the war is truly against the human being and what states of being they can freely experience.

ie one's that concern drugs, food, supplements in terms of regulating the substance; it undermines what's at stake, it's your being that is being regulated. I would refrain also from discussing drugs in terms of their supposed relative harmfulness, I don't agree that we should start a discussion from the perspective of the drug; all drugs are only harmful when misused, and thus until the misuse threshold is crossed, it matters not what drug it is. Further, the focus on health is misconceived, drug user laws are not about health in reality, the acceptable criterion for regulating persons is social harm, ie harm to others. We must accept the knowing taking of risk by adults in society.

Sunshine Band said...

Sorry about the editting above, sometimes I try to work in the little comment box and end up with cut and pastes out of place. perhaps just ignore the beginning of the second paragraph please.