Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lords debate alternatives to drug prohibition

update: debate transcript below

Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Media release 20/01/09

No embargo

Lords to debate alternatives to drug prohibition

The House of Lords will be debating ‘the United Nations Declaration on countering the world drug problem’, in the Main Chamber, January 21st at 11am. The debate is led by Baroness Meacher (cross bench) who will call on the Government to follow the recommendation of the 2002 Home Affairs Select Committee to debate alternatives to prohibition at UN level (see notes to editors below) at this year’s upcoming 10 year review of UN drug policy in Vienna.

Baroness Meacher said:

“Criminalising drug users has clearly not reduced the problems we face, and has only served to exacerbate the harm caused by drugs. It is time for policy makers at all levels, including the UN drug agencies, to move away from the failings of drug war ideology and embrace a new approach guided by sound evidence and public health principles. There is now an urgent need for and mature and balanced exploration of policy alternatives, including the potential legal regulation of some or all currently illegal drugs”.


Notes to editors:

Home Affairs Select Committee Report: “The Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working?”

Recommendation 24:

"That the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways - including the possibility of legalisation and regulation - to tackle the global drugs dilemma."


Read the debate transcript here

Media coverage:

Guardian news in brief


Anonymous said...

Please keep us up-to-date. This is exciting news.

HR2 said...

A serious problem with this is that the UN review is not upcoming - it's been ongoing for months.

As usual, even harm reduction remains a battle ground.

Anonymous said...

You have to admire some of these speeches which really nail the paradox of unintented consequences of prohibition - this deabte however seemingly starts from the premise that we are subordinate to the UN, and that the meeting in March is when our junior minister ought to make protestations - we don't need to wait for the UN. The Lords also missed the point about the Misuse of Drugs Act being a suitable instrument to progress most reform as opposed to the view expressed by some that it was a relic rooted in US led prohibtionism - if the govt administered the law properly (as in scientifically) the drug problem would be significantly reduced.

Danny K said...

Mmnn, HR2. I'm not sure that the problem is the fact the meeting in Vienna is done and dusted...which it clearly is.
In my humble opinion, a significant problem has been the failure, over the last ten years of many organisations and individuals to speak out openly against global prohibition, including leading harm reduction organisations.
Anonymous, I agree that we are not subordinate to the UN. However, our domestic prohibtion is held in place by geopolitical pressures that emanate predominantly from the US and are effectively frozen within the bureaucratic structures of the UN, manipulated to its own ends by the US.
Secondly, the UK's support for the UN system combined with the inadequacy of the MDA 1971 does not enable the Government to apply much science to our policy

Sven said...

Frankly, I'm massively disappointed that there has been so little media coverage of the issue.

Anonymous said...

When are you going to report on the debate? I was quite amazed by the transcript, but U.K. govt. is a mystery to me. Is this just something that happens every year and nothing comes of it?

julio said...

I agree that there is a level of state control or government agency that controls the drug issue in all its aspects.