The Conservative Drugs Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), chaired by Crispin Blunt MP and supported by a number of Conservative MPs, launches today (June 27) as a unique policy forum promoting fully informed, evidence-based debate around drug policy reform.
Under CEO Rob Wilson, a former Conservative MP and Minister for Civil Society from 2014 -2017, CDPRG is committed to examining the evidence for change after half a century of prohibition which has failed either to deliver better outcomes for society or to improve life chances.
CDPRG is not committed to and will not advocate any specific outcome of the debate it promotes. However, in exploring the evidence from the UK and worldwide, it will challenge the basis for the current UK policies, asking its advocates to justify the outcomes against current medical and scientific knowledge and in terms of health and law enforcement.
Its immediate aims will be to:-
Achieve the earliest possible safe access to the benefits of medicine derived from cannabis for British patients.
Explore the evidence on overall benefits of international models of a licensed and regulated adult use cannabis market set against the current British experience
Seek a Royal Commission on wider UK drug policy and the evaluation of the costs and benefits of prohibition of narcotic drugs and the alternatives
Crispin Blunt, who is also co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Reform, said: “It is clear from a mounting body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed globally and in the UK.
“In 2017 ten people died every day from drugs misuse in the UK. Home Office research indicates that the annual cost to the taxpayer of failure of current drug policies amounts to £10.7 billion in policing, healthcare and crime.
“The time has come to analyse and assess objectively and transparently all the available evidence. In facilitating this debate, CDPRG will provide the basis for a rational and educated approach to future policies. Key to these policies must be the reduction of harm to society done by drugs and much of this is caused by drugs policy.”
Rob Wilson said: “There are widespread concerns about the poor outcomes of current drug policy in the U.K. Prohibition policies are widely perceived to have been unsuccessful. This needs to be tested and requires us to better understand all available evidence from around the world so that changes, ultimately made by Government, will improve the lives of families and communities.
“CDPRG will follow the evidence and engage as many people as possible in an informed debate. In doing so, we will assess the unfolding evidence both from the UK and globally, particularly as it emerges from territories where change is already established or underway.
“One of the consequences of global prohibition since 1961 is that we are half a century of research behind in exploring the benefits of medicine from cannabis. The Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has said that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that medicine derived from cannabis can play a role in treating a limited number of medical conditions. The longer we delay in accessing these benefits for British patients, the greater harm we inflict on untreated or inappropriately treated patients.
“There is now a clear appetite for a comprehensive and transparent review of drugs policy. We seek such a review to enable the public and policy makers to reach informed, evidence-based decisions on its future direction.”
CDRPG is a company limited by guarantee, operating as a not for profit entity. Parliamentarians associated with the Group and its supervision receive no remuneration for their roles within CDPRG.
Below the Board, CDPRG has a Policy Advisory Council including MPs, members of the House of Lords and representatives of devolved administrations and local authorities.
The Policy Advisory Council also draws on the eminent expertise of leading figures from the medical, health, ethics, economics and law enforcement sectors - as well as leaders and opinion formers from supporting think tanks and charities.
The Group also maintains close links with a wide range of charities, umbrella and campaigning organisations as well as with Government, Conservative Party and Civil Service.
It is supported by companies and organisations interested in drug policy reform including Botanica, Cannex, Supreme and Wayland.
Hannah Slater, Senior Communications Manager
Mob: +44 7572 23995