Monday, August 16, 2010

"Consider Drug Regulation" says ex-president of Royal College of Physicians

The following press release was issued by Transform at 00:00 Tues 16th of August 2010

This post will be updated with media coverage (see below)

"Consider Drug Regulation" says ex-president of Royal College of Physicians

In his final Bulletin, the outgoing President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore wrote:

"I feel like finishing my presidency on a controversial note. I personally back the chairman of the UK Bar Council, Nicholas Green QC, when he calls for drug laws to be reconsidered with a view to decriminalising illicit drugs use. This could drastically reduce crime and improve health. Drugs should still be regulated, and the argument for decriminalising them is clearly made by Stephen Rolles in the latest edition of the BMJ."

His comments come in the wake of a flurry of calls for reform from health professionals, in the lead up to the publication of the Vienna Declaration, an international manifesto for reform, which calls for drugs to be decriminalised in order to promote individual and public health.

Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs at Transform Drug Policy Foundation said:
"Sir Ian's statement is yet another nail in the coffin of the war on drugs. The Hippocratic Oath says 'First do no harm'. Physicians are duty bound to speak out if the outcomes show that prohibition causes more harm than it reduces. Sir Ian is justly fulfilling his role by calling for consideration of the evidence for legal control and regulation."

Kushlick concluded:
"With a Prime Minster and Deputy Prime Minister both longstanding supporters of alternatives to the war on drugs, at the very least the Government must initiate an impact assessment comparing prohibition with decriminalisation and strict legal regulation."


Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs, 07970 174747

Notes for Editors:

  • David Cameron calls for debate  legalisation:

As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into drug misuse in 2002 - Cameron voted in favour of recommendation 24:
"We recommend that the Government initiates a discussion within the [UN] Commission on Narcotic Drugs  of alternative ways-including the possibility of legalisation and regulation-to tackle the global drugs dilemma (paragraph 267)."


Anonymous said...

Nice work in the media on this Mr Rolles - good distinctions made on what is being mooted to be decriminalised, and the terminology gets the 'DEA' performing seal of approval.


Unknown said...

Good work, I saw this as a headline on BBC Worldwide.

It coincides nicely with the end of Channel 4's three part series on the drugs war.

Personally, I think this is a pivotal time in the debate of the drugs war. I can't wait for the voting on California's prop 19 in November. I think it's gonna pass and the snowball will start rolling.

Exciting times!

Anonymous said...

I know Steve & Danny are sticklers for accuracy so they will want to record that Cameron has changed his tune somewhat on Cannabis:


1148 hours Boulton introduces e-mail questions from viewers:

AB This is a question now from David Raynes who says: Does Mr Cameron personally now support re classifying cannabis back to Class B.

DC Yes…I think we should. We had a discussion about this in our Shadow Cabinet some time ago and made very clear that was our policy. I think the main reason is because the sort of cannabis now being smoked is so strong and there is such a link to mental health issues that it should be Class B.

AB The point that David Raynes makes is that you were in the Home Affairs Select Committee which actually recommended going in the other direction.

DC I think there was a lot in that committee’s report that was very good particularly on treatment. Actually we were saying that education and treatment were the absolute keys but I think on reclassification we got it wrong on reflection, because I don’t think we spent enough time looking at the strength of the cannabis, the skunk and the super-skunk and the stuff that is now being, being err, now being smoked is so powerful and I think that the Ian Duncan-Smith report that I commissioned on social breakdown, I think that the work that did actually and looking at drug strength and the connection with mental health I think is very serious.

AB You see in this you’re backing Gordon Brown (Labour Prime Minister) and he as far as we can tell is ignoring the advice of his own drugs experts.

DC Well in the end politicians have got to decide and my point to Gordon Brown would be, look get on and make a decision, you know you’ve had the reviews, you’ve had the expert opinion, in the end it is a judgement that you as a politician have got to make. Our judgement is clear, re classify to B. I think he should get on and make a decision.


Steve Rolles said...

this really isnt about the trivia of pre-election point scoring cannabis classification debates, which have little to do with decrim and certainly nothing to do with regulation debates.

Cameron called for a debate on alternatives to prohibition including legalisation/regulation. (its well worth reading the whole HASC report).

Thats different from calling for the policy itself but still significant. He may have moved away from the position as he neared power and it became a potential political concern - but I have no doubt that he fully understands both the critique of the drug war and the case for more far reaching policy and law reform. His concerns are political not intellectual.

Thumb said...

It does indeed coincide nicely with our drugs war, which was a brilliant series. As brilliant as it was sobering. When will governments wake up?! hallucinogenic plants

Anonymous said...

I was volunteering on a homeless soup run last night when I got talking to young women who was a long term heronin user - suffering from severe health problems exclusively as a consequence of the illegal nature of the drug.
After speaking about her very challenging and painful past (which re-enforced my feeling that this women, like countless others are exactly the people society should be supporting and caring for rather than making into criminals) we moved onto speaking about drugs policy.

I was amazed to learn that she had read Steve Rolles' After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation. Of course she hopes for a day that society and the government can understand the sense of this book...

Great work in the media this past week Mr Rolles.

Peter Reynolds said...

What we the people are now DEMANDING from our government is:

1. An end to oppression of drug users (at least 10 million citizens)
2. Removal from the criminal law of any offence for possession and/or social supply
3. Fact and evidence-based policy, information and regulation

The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have both criticised the government for basing drugs policy on opinion rather than facts and evidence.

Our cowardly politicians, who have refused to grasp this nettle for years, are directly responsible for the death, misery, degradation, and crime caused by drug laws. This is an international scandal of monstrous proportions.

As Baroness McNally said in the House of Lords on 15th June 2010: "There is no more obvious waste than the £19 billion cost of the UK's war on drugs."