Thursday, November 12, 2009

Landmark book shows how to legalise and regulate drugs

UK Parliamentary launch of 'Blueprint for Regulation'
Grannd Committee room, House of Commons

Blueprint launch press release

Transform Drug Policy Foundation today launched the internationally groundbreaking new book 'After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation', at 11.15am GMT, 12th November 2009, in the Grand Committee Room, House of Commons. It will also be launched in the US (see below for details), mainland Europe, Central and South Americas, Australasia and Asia.

For the first time anywhere, ‘Blueprint’ provides a detailed roadmap showing how to legally regulate all currently prohibited drugs by proposing specific models of regulation for each type, coupled with the principles and rationale for doing so. These include doctors’ prescriptions, pharmacy sales, licensed premises and off-license sales.

Speakers at the House of Commons include: Ms. Robin Gorna, (Executive Director, International AIDS Society), Professor Rod Morgan (former Chair, Youth Justice Board) and Dr Ben Goldacre (Guardian ‘Bad Science’ Columnist).

There is growing recognition globally that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been fear of the unknown – what could a post-prohibition regime look like? In answering that question, Blueprint demonstrates that legally regulating drugs is not a step into the unknown, but a tried and tested approach to control drug production, supply and use.

Transform Head of Research and the book’s author, Steve Rolles said:

“Like it or not, drugs are here to stay, so we have a choice - either criminals control them, or governments do. By the cautious implementation of a legally regulated regime, we can control products, prices, vendors, outlets, availability, and using environments through a range of regulatory models, depending on the nature of the drug, and evidence of what works. Under prohibition we have no control whatsoever, the consequences of which have been disastrous.”

“Governments that ignore the evidence and maintain the failing status quo are being negligent, reckless and irresponsible. With the regulatory systems proposed in this book now available, national and international policy makers must conduct comprehensive Impact Assessments to count the costs and benefits of prohibition, and compare them with legally regulated control. At the least, this will enable government and taxpayers to assess how well scarce resources are being spent. At best, it will trigger a genuine debate on alternatives to the futile war on drugs, leading to the replacement of prohibition with an effective, just and humane system of legal regulation.”

Craig McClure, former Executive Director of the International AIDS Society and author of the book’s foreword said:

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to show that criminalising drugs has led to a dramatic increase in drug-related harms, and that controlling and regulating their production and distribution would go a long way towards reducing those harms. A range of Latin American governments have already moved, or are moving, towards decriminalisation of drug possession and are shifting to a public health model to prevent and treat misuse of drugs. They are no longer able to tolerate the damage done to their societies by the War on Drugs.

“This is not a radical book. In fact, it is the prohibitionist model that is radical, being based exclusively on a moral judgment against drug use and drug users, and not on an evidence-based approach to reducing drug-related harms. Underscoring a century of prohibitionist policy is a deep-seated fear that moving from prohibition to a regulatory approach will lead to a ‘free-for-all’ situation. ‘Blueprint’ outlines clearly that this fear is irrational, and that reform of any kind will be vastly superior to the status quo.”

“‘Blueprint’ envisages a world in which non-medical drug supply and use is addressed through the right blend of compassion, pragmatism, and evidence-based interventions focused on improving public health. These have been missing from the debate for too long. The time for change in global drug policy is long overdue. Nothing less than the future health of individuals, families, communities and societies is at stake.”

Professor Rod Morgan former Chair of the Youth Justice Board said:

"Much of what we call the drug problem is caused by the fact that prohibition gifts the market to criminals. Government regulation and control would help stabilise transit and producer countries, significantly reduce property crime and the prison population, improve the wellbeing of drug users and their families, protect young people and vulnerable communities and save billions of pounds that could be spent on dealing with the root causes of problematic drug use."


Notes for Editors:

US Launch: US press conference with panel and Q&A at the Drug Policy Alliance Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 12 November 2009, 11:00 hours MST. Audio line for journalists available. call UK 0117941 5810 for deatils

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