Thursday, June 09, 2011

A personal story of why the Global Commission's report matters

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.
Transform is developing a new project with and for family members like Jolene and Katrina who have been affected by bereavement, criminalisation of a loved one, or any other negative side effect of the war on drugs. If you are interested in knowing more, or participating, please contact

(This article originally appeared on the website on 8 June.)


Sunshine Band said...

I'm very interested in this comment:"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." What did you find out? I would say from your post that there were key aspects concerning the legal system with respect to drug users which you have not discovered yet.

Steve Rolles said...


@DamonHRI said...

yeah, what?

Sunshine Band said...

Well you are saying government does have the power to make changes, but what do you mean? I presume you mean parliament, but how would this happen? I think the Act could achieve this without need for new primary legislation.

Steve Rolles said...

that would still come under 'changes to drug policy'. You're just being overly pedantic.

Sunshine Band said...

It's unfortunate that these well meaning folk are compromised by lack of expert guidance. Why when confronted with irrefutable errors in their work do Transform refuse to acknowledge them, and then adopt the stance that the 'errors' are merely semantic and unimportant? The law is what you are working with and the law is nothing but words, you simply cannot be too pedantic or semantic when dealing with legal issues - it's called accuracy as opposed to waffle.

Face saving is not nearly as important as getting it right, there is always tomorrow and this will go on and on until the reform movement work out what it is they are up against. My view is that there is much to learn, things are not the way you believe them to be because the opposition are clever enough to obscure reality from ordinary view.

There are many errors in this short piece, I can hardly bear to read it - 'legal drugs' is a nonsense as well, and this is the very basis for excluding the vast amjority of persons from the operation of a neutral law intended to protect us all against the harm caused by drug abusing persons. 'Illegal drugs' is as you know a construction that has no basis in law and is used mischievously to deny the possibility of a regulatory system used within the law.

I guess that either you won't publish my criticism or you will just get shirty with your 'yeah what' supporter here, anthing rather than developing the project and understanding. Yes, I know you dismiss it all as irrelvant, but that will never wash with me or the people who call the shots because the currency of control is words, and you can't just use them in a lay fashion and expect it to bite.

I simply made the point that asks you to look at the mechanism for what you seek, ie government can only do what you say they have the power to do after having firstly consulted with the acmd and secondly promulgated orders in council for the consideration of both houses of parliament. You said you had researched this and found that govt have the power to make changes - well they don't, so what's wrong with learning how to do this? The process is very complicated and it is painfully obvious that you have no actual legal expertise in Transform. Why not embrace what I offer rather than live in denial of this shortcomming?

You are wanting to carry the banner for drug users, and that necessitates accepting weaknesses. The actual mechanism for regulating drug persons is a complete piece of work I could give you, but is too long for this blog.