Paul Flynn MP has agreed to host a meeting in the House of Commons on Drug Policy Reform in the UK.
Almost 2,000 young people die in the UK each year from taking illegal drugs of uncertain potency, that they can only get hold of on the illegal market.
Leading police, doctors, and politicians agree prohibition has completely failed
to curb addiction and instead is costing the UK £3 billion a year. It is clear something must be done and reform is urgently needed.
Traditional drugs are often in the hands of criminal gangs and often if a young person goes to a dealer asking for a low risk variety of cannabis, the dealer will try and persuade them to buy something "much more exciting". Criminal suppliers also have every incentive to adulterate the drugs in order to enhance the profits – cutting agents are at times seriously dangerous. Speaking at this meeting are,
Paul Flynn was educated at St. Illtyd's College, Cardiff, and at the University College, Cardiff. He has worked as a chemist in the steel industry, as a broadcaster on Gwent Community Radio. He was elected as MP for Newport West in 1987. He has been shadow spokesperson for Health and Social Security is a member of the Public Administration Select Committee. His political interests include health and medicinal and illegal drugs. He is Vice Chair of the All Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform
Andria E-Mordaunt is an activist, and Mum to six year old Millie. She has been working on drugs issues since 1986, first as counsellor, peer support worker and from 1993 as campaigner: local, national and international. Her life was turned upside down as of 1980 by the deaths of many of her loved ones: lives lost to HIV, ODs and other outcomes of the so-called war on drugs, so she helped found several NGOs for people living with HIV and/or addiction issues. She is the founder of the John Mordaunt Trust, set up to honour the memory of her life-partner & fellow AIDS activist, killed by HIV. Andria wrote herMSc dissertation"Junkies in the House of the Lord: a look at the impact of drugs user groups on drug policy" at LSE..
June 1998, Andria arranged for Marsha B , RIP, an Injection drugs User living with AIDS - to address the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) about the failure of the so-called war on drugs: Andria wrote the speech, edited by Cannabis campaigner, Martin Barriuso. She is committed to helping to end the so-called war on drugs.
Niamh Eastwood is Executive Director of Release. Having worked in drug policy for the last ten years Niamh is passionate about drug policy reform and believes that the most vulnerable in society are disproportionately impacted upon by the current drug laws.
Niamh has co-authored Release's two most recent policy papers 'The Numbers in Black And White: Ethnic Disparities In The Policing And Prosecution Of Drug Offences In England And Wales' and ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe’. Niamh is also responsible for drafting many of Release's briefings for parliamentarians and policy makers. She has presented at international and national conferences and is regularly invited to comment in the media.
Niamh is also an Associate of The London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy Project, a member of the Expert Steering Group for the Global Drug Survey and is on the steering group for the UK Harm Reduction Association.
Dr Michael Shiner
is an Associate Professor in the Social Policy Department at the London School of Economics and has particular interests in drug policy and policing. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in the drug field and has written widely on a variety of issues including drugs and the law, the delivery of drug services to black and minority ethnic groups and community responses to drug issues. Michael is the author of several books including Drug Use and Social Change and was co-author of"The Number in Black and White: Ethnic Disparities in the Policing and Prosecution of Drug Offences in England and Wales "
(with Niamh Eastwood and Daniel Bear)
The all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform recommend three significant reforms on drug policy
First, to introduce a Class D for the least harmful drugs (legal highs initially) which would be controlled through regulation. The suppliers of these Class D drugs would be responsible for showing that their produce causes only limited harms to the user (they would be much safer than alcohol or tobacco, for example). The supply would be regulated and tough conditions on age limits, packaging and labelling applied. Such a policy is being introduced inNew Zealand and should, in our view be a priority for Britain where we have twice the use of "legal highs" as the rest of Europe.
Second, decriminalisation of the possession and use of small quantities of any drug is overdue in this country. Portugal introduced such a policy more than a decade ago. Instead of spending large sums on imprisoning young people, taxpayers' money has been spent on treatment. The result has been that fewer young people use or abuse drugs in Portugal than in neighbouring countries. More are in treatment and less in prison.
Finally, we need an evidence-based classification of drugs. This can only be achieved if the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs becomes an independent decision-making body. Politicians should retain responsibility for overall drugs policy but scientific assessments and decisions relating to individual drugs should be made by the scientists. The level of risk should be the only criteria determining the class of a drug.
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