Supporters of reform
Find out who supports drug policy reform...
Collected on these pages are supportive quotes on drug law reform from a range of public figures and institutions. These have been divided up onto separate pages as follows:
Celebrities / Public Figures
NGOs and statutory sector
Quotes have been collected from various library, internet, media and political archives and from Transform's library, records and correspondence. Suggested additions are welcome and should be sent (with references, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any queries or corrections should also be sent to this address.
All quotes are referenced, and where possible links are provided to primary sources or the full text from which they are taken.
Inclusion on these pages does not imply support for, or association with Transform Drug Policy Foundation (unless specified) and Transform does not automatically endorse all views expressed here.
Signatories to collective statements
A number of individuals have been included without a specific quote as they are signatories to one or more petition or public letter. These are:
2011 All-Party Parliamentary Group Letter in The Times
"After 50 years it is obvious that the War on Drugs has failed. Despite governments pouring vast resources into the fight to control drug markets and drug-use, (the UK spends £18billion per year on drug related crime) there has been a clear long-term pattern of increasing availability and use, particularly of those drugs that cause the most harm. This has created ever growing health problems and soaring levels of crime, violence and corruption throughout the world. Criminals and paramilitaries benefited from drug crime to the tune of $320 billion in 2009. ... Fifty years on, it is time for change."
The Angel Declaration
"We affirm our view that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and consequential legislation should be repealed and replaced by a system of licensed retail outlets, supplied by a chain of licensed producers, importers and distributors, incorporating all necessary quality-control provisions. Reform legislation should also prescribe new arrangements for educational, therapeutic and harm-reduction measures to address problematic drug use wherever it occurs."
The 1998 Kofi Annan Letter
Appearing in the New York Times in 1998, this letter was signed by over 500 prominent academics, scientists and political leaders. It stated that:
"Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and suffering. Too often those who call for open debate, rigorous analysis of current policies, and serious consideration of alternatives are accused of "surrendering." But the true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to shut off debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all alternatives to current policies. Mr. Secretary General, we appeal to you to initiate a truly open and honest dialogue regarding the future of global drug control policies - one in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibitions yield to common sense, science, public health and human rights".
Appeal for an Anti-prohibitionist Reform of Drug Laws
"Maintain that the drug prohibition policy stemming from the UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 is the actual cause of the increasing damage which the production, trafficking, sale and consumption of illegal substances inflict on entire sections of society, the economy as well as public institutions, thus undermining health, freedom and individuals' lives and in view of the UNGA Special Session that will be held in 2008:
Discussion and comment
This collection aims to illustrate the breadth of support for reform of drug policy and legislation. There is an unusual consensus on the issue between individuals and organisations from a broad spectrum of intellectual and political opinion, many of whom might struggle to find agreement on much else.
Many high-profile figures have spoken out this contentious issue without undue consequences. However, many others, fearful of wandering into a political minefield, keep their views to themselves. Some individuals, whose informed views would add much to the debate – including police, judges, and others in the criminal justice field – do not speak out as they feel it would be inappropriate given their role in enforcing the law. Similarly, some academics are wary of compromising their independence. Others wait until they have retired (eg Mo Mowlam), or until they are just about to retire (eg Sir David Ramsbotham).
We hope that this list will reassure others in the public sphere that there needn't be anything to fear from calling for progressive reforms to the dangerous failings of current drug policy, and will embolden them to go public with long-held private views. Transform can help – please contact us for information and assistance.
The list of people calling for reform in the opposite direction, ie harsher enforcement, increasing penalties etc is relatively small, consisting mostly of opposition politicians accusing the Government of 'going soft' on drugs, and a comparatively small number of police, opinion writers and drug prevention organisations.
Support for reform to cannabis laws has been growing since the sixties and now represents an extensive body of popular opinion. This archive only includes a selection of notable supporters of cannabis reforms. There are fuller lists available on other web sites, and lists of MPs who have signed relevant Early Day Motions on cannabis issues can be found here.
Cannabis quote links: http://www.themarijuanamission.com/cannabisquotes.htm
In a similar way heroin prescribing to long-term addicts is a policy option that enjoys widespread support and has a long history in the UK and mainland Europe. It already exists in the UK to a limited extent and the Home Secretary has announced a significant expansion of the programme. Although heroin prescribing is, by definition, a legal regulatory model (albeit a highly restricted one) for the production supply and use of a dangerous recreational drug, the fact that it is classified under 'medical necessity' or 'harm reduction' has meant it is generally seen as separate from the current law reform debate. Whether this is a sensible distinction is moot, however, as heroin prescribing is already Government policy we have generally not included quotes on it in this archive (with a few particularly interesting exceptions).
A special thanks to Norman Marshall for suggesting the online archive