We should be able to argue for the decriminalisation of drugs on the basis of the evidence (which is overwhelming) that criminalisation doesn't deter use, but does exacerbate a range of serious health and social harms.
But politicians are often not terribly interested in evidence, especially if it undermines their pre-existing policy positions. Presenting evidence on drug policy reform to the UK government for example, is invariably met with a standardised response to the effect that drugs are bad for you therefore they have no intention of reviewing current legislation, let alone actually changing it.
Given this institutional obstinance, it can be useful to cite the many authoritative voices calling for an end to the criminalisation of drug users. Most notably, various agencies and senior figures from within the United Nations, and high-profile organisations and individuals from the fields of science and medicine. Below is a collection of referenced quotes from these sources.
These are not the usual suspects. They cannot be brushed aside as being drug users after an easy life, or part of the “liberal metropolitan elite”.
We urge you to use these quotes to hold politicians account. If you hear or read that they’re disputing the evidence on decriminalisation, or arguing that it’s a fringe position, ask them what secret knowledge they're privy to that these experts are apparently not. Ask them for the reasons. Ask them for the evidence. Write to them, tweet them, and ask them in person (and let us know what they say). Many may not be aware of just how widespread and high-level support for reform is, so even if you don’t get the reply you want, you may still have helped to educate them.
For more background on decriminalisation, see:
- The submission from Release, IDPC, Harm Reduction International, and Transform to the upcoming Irish government inquiry on the subject
- Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice: A Global Summary by Steve Rolles (Transform) and Niamh Eastwood (Release)
United Nations / international
Science and medicine