A Manifesto for Drug Policy Reform
Protecting Families, Reducing Crime
Globally, drug policy reform is happening. More and more countries have stopped criminalising people who use drugs, and are looking to bring drug production and supply under legal government control. From Portugal decriminalising drug possession in 2001, to Canada aiming to become the first G7 country to legalise and regulate the production and supply of cannabis in 2018.
Reform is an inevitable response to the failings of the punitive prohibitionist model of drug control which empowers organised crime, fuels disease, death and violence, endangers young people and families, and shatters communities. In the UK this is most graphically demonstrated by record levels of drug-related deaths three years in a row - now leaving around fifty families bereaved each week.
It is time to re-prioritise health and care over prisons and punishment, to reduce crime and protect the young and vulnerable. We are calling on the next government to:
1 End the criminalisation of people who use drugs
In the UK criminalisation prioritises punishment over health, yet thirty countries have decriminalised possession and use of either cannabis or all drugs. Evidence from these initiatives overwhelmingly shows positive outcomes - not increased use.
2 Fully fund proven, cost-effective prevention, treatment and harm reduction - including drug consumption rooms and heroin assisted treatment
Short term cuts to drug service budgets are a false economy, creating long term cost burdens across the health, social care and criminal justice systems. Beyond existing measures like methadone prescribing, and needle and syringe programmes, supervised drug consumption facilities, and heroin assisted therapy should also be funded as necessary.
3 Legalise and strictly regulate cannabis for over 18s
Regulation puts the government in control of production, supply and availability - meaning organised criminals and unregulated dealers can be pushed out of the market, to help protect young people, our health and our communities.
4 Review the impacts of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA) and UK drug policy
Despite the overwhelming evidence of failure the MDA has never been formally evaluated against health, criminal justice, human rights, security & development, or cost effectiveness indicators. In other countries, where evidence has been brought to bear it has led to effective reform.
5 Reformulate UK drug laws to allow the incremental legal regulation of drugs
Cannabis regulation will be a positive and important first step, but we need to go further and put governments in charge of the production and supply of other drugs that have high levels of demand, to prioritise health and community safety.