Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Drug Strategy Consultation Document

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation – Sham And Deception

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Today I started to prepare my submission to the Home Office in response to its Drug Strategy consultation.  I am sorry to say but it appears to be a complete sham, a deception and merely a sop to public opinion.  The strategy is already decided.  It is not a Drugs Strategy,  it is a Drug Prevention Strategy.  It will create death, misery, suffering and crime.  It is a disaster in the making

At the beginning of the document it says:

Ministers have agreed the new strategic vision and broad themes for the Drug Strategy which will set the framework for the future delivery of drugs policy…The paper sets out the key objectives and themes of the government’s vision for drugs policy…The Home Office will lead the new Drug Strategy to prevent drug taking, disrupt drug supply, strengthen enforcement and promote drug treatment.

That’s right, despite Cameron’s and Clegg’s progressive statements in the past, nothing is to change.  It is an authoritarian, big government, top down approach.  It is the precise opposite of the values which The Big Society is supposed to stand for.  It’s a stitch up and completely undemocratic.  Most important of all, it flies in the face of all the experts, all the experience of the last 30 years and is completely out of step with Europe, America and most of the rest of the world.

In fact the only people who will be supporting this farcical exercise in misinformation will be drug dealers, organised crime drug cartels and countries like China, Singapore and Malaysia that execute people for drug use.

Trying to “prevent drug taking” is like asking King Canute to hold back the tide.  It is a completely hopeless and unachievable goal.  Man has been using mind-altering substances since the dawn of time and no government or strategy is going to change that.  What the new Drugs Strategy should be doing is setting out to regulate drug use in a way that will minimise harms.  All the experts agree on this.

Shame on you Cameron!  Shame on you Clegg!  Only four months in and you’ve hit moral rock bottom already.

Cameron, Clegg and Canute.  Three of a kind

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation

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All over the BBC this morning is the story that addicts may have their benefits withdrawn if they refuse treatment.  This, apparently,  is a proposal included in the Home Office’s new Drug Strategy consultation document.

Where is this document?  It’s not on the Home Office website.  That’s a bit strange for something that purports to be about consulting with the public isn’t it?

I had to phone the Home Office press office to get a copy.  I shouldn’t have to be doing this for the government but you can download it here:

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation Document

Theresa May and James Brokenshire, the ministers responsible for this, should remember that they are not in office to preserve the status quo or cook up policies between themselves based on the misinformation that the Home Office currently promotes.  Their first responsiblity after their duty to the Queen is to the public.  Consultation is not something they should pay lip service to, nor is it something they can pick or choose.   It should determine  their actions.

As part of this consultation, the Home Office should take into account the tens of thousands of people who have used the Your Freedom website to call for relaxation in the drug laws and particularly the legalisation of cannabis.

I urge everybody with any interest in the drugs issue to download, complete and return the consultation document.  It’s presented as a Q&A form.  I also suggest that you keep a copy and send a copy to your MP.  Regrettably the Home Office doesn’t have a good record on keeping track of what the public says to it.  It loses a lot of things.

On the face of it, I support the idea that if you’re a heroin, cocaine, alcohol or prescription drug addict and you’re offered treatment but refuse it then you shouldn’t be able to live on benefits.   That seems entirely just.   The danger is that just as current drug laws drive addicts to crime and prostitution so will this.  This is progress though.  There has to be personal responsibility but also some flexibility to ensure this doesn’t become another self-defeating policy.   Most important of all, possession of drugs for personal use and/or social supply must be taken out of the criminal law.

The other headline grabbing proposal is that the government should be able to impose a temporary 12 month ban on “new substances”.  This is designed to tackle the danger of “legal highs” – a danger mainly of the government’s own making because of its policy of prohibition.   There is a real glimmer of hope and intelligence here though because “Possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people”.  I applaud this.  It shows that it is possible to get common sense  from the Home Office.  There is hope yet!

***UPDATE***

As I go to press  (oh, alright, as my finger hovers over the “publish” button), the consultation document has become available on the Home Office website.  A little tardy but better late than never.

You can respond to this consultation until 30th September 2010.  Make sure you do.