drug policy

Let’s end the harms of cannabis prohibition

Let’s end the harms of cannabis prohibition

Viewpoint by Andrew Boff AM

At heart, I’m a libertarian - I believe that people should be free to make their own choices. But drugs reform is more than this. It’s about safety and protecting people from harm - a harm of government making.

Cannabis is out there and people are using it - to say that criminalisation is working is borderline delusional. The government’s own data shows that 30 per cent of 16 to 59-year olds in England and Wales have smoked cannabis. This is slightly higher for 16 to 24-year olds, at 30.7 per cent, which suggests usage is rising. Much of this will be provided by the black market - drug dealers don’t have age restrictions or product standards.

"It's a myth that we can arrest our way out of drug problems" - Mike Barton speech at CDPRG launch

Former Chief Constable Durham Police Mike Barton

I joined Lancashire police in 1980 and this month I retired as Chief Constable of Durham. Throughout those 39 years the drug laws have essentially remained unchanged.

In 2000 the Police Federation’s review of drugs and the law, supported by the Home Office, found no evidence that severe custodial penalties or their enforcement, however vigorous, was having any impact on supply. They said the law should be based on seven principles. I will deal with just the first three.

Firstly it should be used as a means of reducing demand and support the broader agenda of health, prevention and education. Well, since 2000 the police have advocated a health-based approach and yet it is still primarily seen as a criminal justice issue.

"Our drug laws need fundamental review" - Dr Clare Gerada's speech at CDPRG launch

Dr Clare Gerada, 27th June 2019

I have been a GP for nearly three decades and before that a psychiatrist. All of this time I have worked with patients with substance misuse problems. First with the large number of heroin addicts we had in the 1980’s and 1990’s – which then moved to crack cocaine, other stimulants and more recently drugs such as mephedrone, ecstasy and its derivates and a whole host of drugs euphuistically called ‘club drugs’.

Introducing the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group

Drug policy is a fast changing and increasingly vital aspect of public policy. When our Chair, Crispin Blunt MP, asked me to undertake the CEO role at the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), we agreed two things: 

  • first that CDPRG would be completely independent in its thinking and 

  • second, that thinking would be exclusively based on where the evidence takes us. I do not come at this with any agenda, I have an open mind and a wish to reflect the evidence and reduce harm.