The founders of TDPF Scotland, Jolene Crawford and Katrina Thornton, on why the new the Global Commission on Drug Policy report is personally important for them, and why Scotland should take a lead on drug policy on the global stage.
Just over three years ago we lost a brother / cousin in a drug-related death. We know only too well the pain of losing someone in such a futile manner. We understand the need to apportion blame and the desire to prevent any other family going through a similar nightmare.
But however initially tempting it was to call for all drugs to be banned, we decided to educate ourselves about legal and illegal drugs and the real issues that pertain to these substances. What we discovered surprised us greatly and resulted in the founding of TDPF Scotland (Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland) – a campaign for the control and regulation of all illegal and legal drugs. As busy women juggling careers and children, taking on this challenge was not easy. It’s painful for the family each time we speak out. But when we discovered that current drug policy has no factual basis, and the individuals who create these policies often acknowledge in private that drug prohibition is a disaster (though few will put their heads above the parapet) we felt we had no choice but to speak out.
Most importantly, we found that the government does indeed have the power to make changes to drug policy that would have a transformative effect on the lives of individuals, families and society as a whole.
For this reason, it was extremely heartening to read the findings of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and see the high profile individuals who back its calls. Basically the report represents a watershed moment that puts legal regulation of drugs onto the mainstream political agenda worldwide.
With a majority SNP government in power north of the border, and the question of an independent Scotland a viable proposition, Scotland is in a strong position to take a lead on this issue on the global stage. The referendum question will present an opportunity to have a debate about exactly what kind of future we want for our country.
How we are going to adequately deal with Scotland's significant drug and alcohol abuse issues must play a major role in this discussion. The Portuguese success with decriminalization provides strong evidence of policy which can be effective under current global drug laws, whilst at the same time acting as a step towards full regulation and control.
In Scotland we have already gathered some high profile supporters including our patron Iain Banks, the former High Court Judge Lord McCluskey, Richard Holloway, Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist Fraser Shaw, retired Strathclyde Police Inspector Jim Duffy, as well as former users, drugs workers and other bereaved families. We now call on Scottish and UK party political leaders to call a ceasefire in their political point scoring and, taking inspiration from those individuals who have backed the Global Commission on Drug Policy, unite to explore peaceful and effective alternatives to the war on drugs.
It took losing a loved one to force us to look at the evidence. We believe that our politicians have a moral obligation to do so too.
(This article originally appeared on the newsnetscotland.com website on 8 June.)