Peter Reynolds

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Breakthrough In The Drugs Debate!

with 32 comments

Bob Ainsworth

Tomorrow, Bob Ainsworth MP, former Home Office drugs minister and Secretary of State for Defence, will call for the legalisation and regulation of drugs. He is to lead a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall, at 2.30pm on Thursday 16th December 2010.

Great credit for this must go to the inestimable Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which has led the fight against prohibition.  This is an extraordinary breakthrough.  The news literally brought tears to my eyes.  We have fought so long for such progress.

Mr Ainsworth said;

“I have just been reading the Coalition Government’s new Drugs Strategy.  It is described by the Home Secretary as fundamentally different to what has gone before; it is not.  To the extent that it is different, it is potentially harmful because it retreats from the principle of harm reduction, which has been one of the main reasons for the reduction in acquisitive crime in recent years.

However, prohibition has failed to protect us. Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit. We spend billions of pounds without preventing the wide availability of drugs. It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children.  We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists.

As drugs minister in the Home Office I saw how prohibition fails to reduce the harm that drugs cause in the UK, fuelling burglaries, gifting the trade to gangsters and increasing HIV infections. My experience as Defence Secretary, with specific responsibilities in Afghanistan, showed to me that the war on drugs creates the very conditions that perpetuate the illegal trade, while undermining international development and security.

My departure from the front benches gives me the freedom to express my long held view that, whilst it was put in place with the best of intentions, the war on drugs has been nothing short of a disaster.

Politicians and the media need to engage in a genuine and grown up debate about alternatives to prohibition, so that we can build a consensus based on delivering the best outcomes for our children and communities. I call on those on all sides of the debate to support an independent, evidence-based review, exploring all policy options, including: further resourcing the war on drugs, decriminalising the possession of drugs, and legally regulating their production and supply.

One way to do this would be an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act in line with the 2002 Home Affairs Select Committee finding – which included David Cameron – for the government to explore alternatives to prohibition, including legal regulation.

The re-legalisation of alcohol in the US after thirteen years of Prohibition was not surrender.  It was a pragmatic move based on the government’s need to retake control of the illegal trade from violent gangsters. After 50 years of global drug prohibition it is time for governments throughout the world to repeat this shift with currently illegal drugs.”

Peter Lilley MP, former Conservative Party Deputy Leader said;

“The current approach to drugs has been an expensive failure, and for the sake of everyone, and the young in particular, it is time for all politicians to stop using the issue as a political football. I have long advocated breaking the link between soft and hard drugs – by legalising cannabis while continuing to prohibit hard drugs.   But I support Bob Ainsworth’s sensible call for a proper, evidence based review, comparing the pros and cons of the current prohibitionist approach with all the alternatives, including wider decriminalisation, and legal regulation.”

Tom Brake MP, Co-Chair, Liberal Democrat Backbench Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities said;

“Liberal Democrats have long called for a science-based approach to our drugs problem. So it is without hesitation that I support Bob Ainsworth’s appeal to end party political point-scoring, and explore sensitively all the options, through an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act.”

Labour’s Paul Flynn MP, Founder Council Member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register said;

“This could be a turning point in the failing UK ‘war on drugs.’ Bob Ainsworth is the persuasive, respected voice of the many whose views have been silenced by the demands of ministerial office. Every open rational debate concludes that the UK’s harsh drugs prohibition has delivered the worst outcomes in Europe – deaths, drug crime and billions of pounds wasted.”

32 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Duncan Stott and Stacey Smith, Peter Reynolds. Peter Reynolds said: Breakthrough In The Drugs Debate!: […]

  2. Excellent news Peter.

    I particularly liked the line…. “gifting the trade to gangsters…”, and assume that he’s already looking to the future when the revenue collection would be in the hands of HMRC.

    Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewani, Dewa…oh, bollocks to it.


    December 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

  3. I do so pray that this passes it would do the whole of the UK a great favour.

    Best news Ive heard in quite a while!!!!!

    John Ellis

    December 16, 2010 at 1:05 am

  4. I like the line that has been highlighted to me:

    “My departure from the front benches gives me the freedom to express my long held view”

    What does this tell you…

    Jason Reed - HomeGrownOutlaw

    December 16, 2010 at 1:05 am

    • Says it all Jason. The truth is out!

      Peter Reynolds

      December 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

  5. I thought this was going to be a carlsberg advert…

    A rational sensible debate on drugs, in parliament, amazing. One of the first things they should cover is the spiteful unnecessary persecution of medicinal cannabis users.

    I hope it doesn’t get the usual sensationalist media slaughtering, I bet Peter Hitchen is preparing his bile as I type.


    December 16, 2010 at 1:31 am

    • You can hear pen-knives being sharpened can’t you Bob. I await his ramble on it all.

      If a true and frank debate, with grown ups, is actually allowed and given credence to – the facts speak for themselves on this.

      Jason Reed - HomeGrownOutlaw

      December 16, 2010 at 1:48 am

  6. Peter, have you been buying second hand calendars again? April 1st isn’t for months mate!


    December 16, 2010 at 2:13 am

  7. they got to see my contry Portugal it works in a way that the generation after mine there are less hard drug user and the most of the user got ofer treatment or jail.
    not saying is perfect but works if you stick to your self dont cause trouble they do no go after you
    by the way i love your blog man keap us informed

    alicio silva

    December 16, 2010 at 5:24 am

  8. Shame theressa may et al are going to shoot him down. drugs are bad mmmmmmkay.

    Nope I’m afraid has far to much invested in big pharma, alcohol and cig’s to let rational thinking influence policy. Sorry but this is a FAIL before it starts.

    I’m getting too fucking old and cynical to believe that we are gonna see change in my lifetime


    December 16, 2010 at 7:54 am

  9. […] More here: Breakthrough In The Drugs Debate! « Peter Reynolds […]

  10. Standard comments in response from the always thoughtful James Brokenshire:
    “Drugs are harmful and ruin lives – legalisation is not the answer.”
    “Decriminalisation is a simplistic solution that fails to recognise the complexity of the problem and ignores the serious harm drug taking poses to the individual.”
    “Legalisation fails to address the reasons people misuse drugs in the first place or the misery, cost and lost opportunities that dependence causes individuals, their families and the wider community.”

    On a more serious note it can’t be long before the various right honourables realise this supposed “Bob Ainsworth” is clearly Prof Nutt in a pair of funny glasses and chuck him out of parliament 🙂


    December 16, 2010 at 10:24 am

  11. Check out the quote in this article from Julian Critchley, Director, Cabinet Office UK Anti-Drug Coordination Unit..

    The truth will out!

    Peter Reynolds

    December 16, 2010 at 10:25 am

  12. An interesting progression. I’ve looked at a number of media sites to try to judge overall reaction this morning. Cant find on either the Daily Mail or Sun. Telegraph, BBC, Guardian all seem pretty straight reporting. Guardian comments overwhelmingly pro legalisation however, there does appear to be an opinion that this will never actually happen due to the timidity of our beloved politicians.
    I want to believe and am holding in elation. This is however tinged with a reluctant fear that Cameron and co aren’t really man enough to bite the bullet.
    Does he have what it takes, I ask myself? Unfortunately, my gut tells me not.
    I bloody hope I’m wrong


    December 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

  13. “The news literally brought tears to my eyes.” You’re not the only one, this is good news.

    “It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children.” – Bob Ainsworth MP
    Common sense demands this, good on him for standing up!
    His previous position would have made it difficult. We saw what happened to Prof. Nutt who was sacked for telling the truth. This article qoutes a coversation he had with Jaqui Smith of expenses scandal fame, “You cannot compare the harms of an illegal activity with a legal one.” This kind of false logic is dangerous. When futher probed she seems to have just repeated this mantra.

    Hitchens argues the law is stopping people from taking drugs and therefore skewing Nutt’s figures. I would say the law isn’t stopping anyone from taking drugs, if anything illegality makes them more attractive and definately more dangerous. Hitchens references the work of Prof. Murray, but Murray says “Fourteen year olds starting daily cannabis use do not agonise over its exact classification; many do not even think it is a drug and few have any knowledge of its hazards.” So let’s suppose in an alternate universe Hitchens is right, where do we go from there? It still leads to the same answer and thats the answer Bob Ainsworth argues for. I’m not into hard drugs but I know they’re out there, so does everyone. I also know the truth about them (I did my own research) and abstain thank you very much! Would Hitchens start taking drugs if they were legal? Very unlikely, he’s probably got no inclination and thats good for him which is fine. Does he drink I wonder?

    Some of Prof. Nutt’s comments seem to have confused the author Decca Aitkenhead a little however. I think what Nutt is saying (in a nut-shell hehe), is that the science has been done and is correct. Rather than moving on to next part of the debate, the part where we take the evidence forward in a positive way, people are pretending the evidence is wrong. This effectively creates a stale-mate position and prevents any further outcome. She does however “basically agree with everything Nutt says”, sounds like people are starting to wake up to this prohibition farse.

    If someone has evidence that refutes the work the ACMD did lets see the actual documents and make a comparison. Put up or shut up!

    The government should re-instate Prof. David Nutt to right the wrongs that have been done! They say they’re different to the last lot of charlatans, well show us!

    @Nick Yes I’ve read the BBC take on the web too… Debra Bell again! I believe MP John Mann was on BBC TV this morning as well, came off quite uninformed I am told. Did anyone catch it?


    December 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  14. I don’t believe it,I actually agree with you lefties on something.This should be done for at least a trial period.Each druggie should have to register,go the chemist and get their daily dose.Crime would plummett and the drug dealing scum in their BMWs would go out of business.We can’t beat the drug trade,it’s far too big.We either legalise 100% or imprison for really long sentences.At the moment we do neither and are stuck somewhere in the middle.


    December 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    • Jaded, I’m a Tory.

      Peter Reynolds

      December 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    • I understand what you are saying and I know that some people who take drugs pay for them threw criminal activity, but why should people who pay for drugs out of there own hard earned cash who are not harming anyone be classed as a criminal and get a long prison sentence, why should the government dictate every single thing that we do in OUR lives?


      February 8, 2011 at 6:15 am

  15. Just avidly watched the news. I fear the issue is being lost as there appears to be a focus on ‘they always say this when they’re not in the job’ and ‘Front benchers are afraid of the subject’.
    The cause could be lost unless these guys stick to there guns and do more to force the issue. I think a lot of people are being overly optimistic at this early stage.
    Don’t count your apples yet.


    December 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  16. God I hate Debra Bell! Everything she writes about is just sensationalist DailyMail-esque drivel.

    If I had a mother like that I would have been driven to some sort of escape, cannabis, alcohol, glue, anything. The fact that her son chose cannabis was nothing more than “pot luck” If you’ll excuse the pun.

    How can she favour prohibition when it didn’t stop her son getting a hold of it anyway?!

    It angers me when people blame their own failings on cannabis. If her child became an alcoholic there would be no question that the failing was in her parenting, why is cannabis squarely to blame in this case?


    December 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    • I think its all too easy to blame parenting skills. I believe that most of the problem relates to our so called civilisation. We all had a ‘place’ in society once. Boys..once were warriors and hunters and paths were clear. The women, gatherers and makers of homes and families.
      Most no not what they are or who they are.
      I used to believe that one day someone would give me the manual to being ‘grow up’ and then all would be clear.
      The only fact I know on this subject is people use ‘whatever’ because they like how it feels.. Anyone have a cat.. during the summer my cats love a particular plant…not weed.. on a sunny day they sit literally in the middle of it and get dribblingly smashed. The same applies to wild monkies.
      We are nature!
      Shit…..I need to get my hair cut….godam hippy!


      December 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

  17. For those that didn’t see the debate its here


    December 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    • Thank you for that Bob.

      Excellent work by Bob Ainsworth , Paul Flynn and Caroline Lucas this afternoon.

      James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire was his unsufferable, preppy, puce-faced best. He has the bureaucrat’s intensely tedious style. He bores you into silence.

      That’s what he’s counting on though, that we’ll all just go away and he can get on having a fun time… spending billions on his war.

      We mustn’t let him get away with it.

      Peter Reynolds

      December 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm

  18. the current government line stating that “legalisation sends the wrong message” is fantasy thinking. no potential drug user gives a toss what the government or police line is, just : how much does it cost, who can I get it from, who else is doing it and will it be fun.

    all the government will do is design a new pamphlet and try to present it as their own distinctive policy, so basically “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” its the same old politics.

    the connection between the choices people make in their personal lives and the will of the establishment are polar opposites. they fiddle away in their ivory castles completely detached from the experiences of the great unwashed.

    the political class in our nation are totally lost, they still revere the era of back to basics under john major and think their mates in big business will fix everything by creating a harsh uber rat race like in America (to get people motivated) but they don’t understand as a nation we have moved on culturally. especially the youth of today who’s views aspirations and values have been totally written of and under-represented by the political social elites. They are so out of touch, out of date and almost completely irrelevant. they could get these young people engaged by listening and they could be a great asset and attribute to our country’s development but they have futilely chosen confrontation instead.

    why cant they stay out of our culture and let the society evolve organically if they truly believe in the goodness of the British people and just make sure that the bins get taken out on a Wednesday, the schools and hospitals stay open, I don’t see what else they could ever achieve. i don’t recognise that any post war government has really sustained any real achievements apart from the formation of the cradle to grave welfare state which this government seems to want to demolish brick by brick.

    I’m British but in America at the moment and i fear for our country aspiring to this kind of society, it is such a harsh place, you see so many irreparably damaged people here, it is such a class divide and so many people are stuck and seriously desperate. if Cameron keeps pushing those of the lowest social rung towards this state of being its going to be anarchy on our little island. its time to take the lid off of the pressure cooker for all our sakes.

    Sam Goldring

    December 17, 2010 at 2:30 am

    • Thanks for your comment Sam. Your words are inspiring.

      Peter Reynolds

      December 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

  19. I suspect the issue here is a change to administrative law – and one from vice to prevention of rackets. Sadly, if right on this one, Ainsworth is still ‘Bullshit Bob’ and may not help.


    December 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

  20. soon, before 2012, there will be elections again

    (this is not joke – you read this will happen, anticipated elections – we know coalitions don’t work in Britain)

    is our responsibility to educate everybody we know about voting green. then, and only then, will be done

    if we do it it’ll happened -it’s entirely up to us now. this is just showing to the large public the true face of our politicians (they are *not* the change), creating a political conscious gap that we must fill up with green


    December 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

  21. To be honest I think he should concentrate on soft drugs first before involving hard drugs. He should have mentioned the beneficial medicinal qualities of cannabis, an illegal drug which according to the government is harmful.

    And every person who lives a life of misery with cannabis being their main alleviator of pain are criminals and deserve to be locked up with other criminals who rape, kill etc. It sickens me the fact they STILL say ‘cannabis has no recognisable medicinal values’ . . . So those people who choose cannabis over the much more harmful prescription drugs are wrong and should do themselves and the community much better and take the nice legal poison instead.

    This world f*cking sickens me.


    December 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

  22. The politicions that think keeping drugs illegal is making the UK safer must be living in a dream world.
    1) The main problem with drugs isnt the actual drug itself, it’s the things that is mixed with it.
    2) The only person/s that is gaining from selling drugs is the dealers/gangsters
    3) When something is illegal it makes it much more attractive (is everyone who is 18+ addicted to alcohol, definatly not)
    4) If drugs are legal to buy in chemists/special shops, who are you hurting by taking the drug? No-one other than yourself, who is the government to say how you run your life.
    5) Softer drugs i.e. Cannabis is not a gateway drug (if people have the mindset to take drugs it doesnt matter what drugs they start with)
    6) When I was younger I could get a hold of illegal drugs easier than someone going in the shop for alcohol, hence if drugs were made illegal children would probably find it harder to obtain drugs (bring in much higher fines for people supplying drugs to children, cutting down the supply).
    7) Around 600 people died within 10 years due to ecstasy, how many people died due to smoking/alcohol/road accidents/plane crashes etc. Should all them other dangers be made illegal aswel?

    We are living in medievil drug laws where the evidence massively outweighs the ridiculous drug laws within our country. If drugs where legalised, there wouldnt be millions £’s going to gangs/drug lords, people would know what they were taking, there would be proper health warnings and instructions on how to prepare and have a safer experience with drugs and our prisons woulodnt be wasting taxpayers money and time having people arrested because of something that isnt causing any harm to others


    February 8, 2011 at 6:05 am

  23. I am a father and if in the future my son decides to take drugs I would much rather him be able to go to a chemist and get 100% pure stuff and get safety tips/information on how to stay safe rather than buying off some dealer who could have mixed his drugs with anything.


    February 8, 2011 at 6:19 am

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