The Times, Monday March 21, 2011
A new All Party Parliamentary Group has been launched to promote the urgent need for drug policy reform.
The launch coincides with the 50thanniversay of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Although the rhetoric of the ‘War on Drugs’ was to come later the Convention marked the starting point for an international approach based on the assumption that illicit drug supply and demand could be suppressed by enforcement.
After 50 years it is obvious that the War on Drugs has failed. Despite governments pouring vast resources into the fight to control drug markets and drug-use, (the UK spends £18billion per year on drug related crime) there has been a clear long-term pattern of increasing availability and use, particularly of those drugs that cause the most harm. This has created ever growing health problems and soaring levels of crime, violence and corruption throughout the world. Criminals and paramilitaries benefited from drug crime to the tune of $320 billion in 2009.
The objectives of the Parliamentary Group are to promote health-oriented policies based upon scientific evidence and the reform of United Nations Drug Conventions. With the Beckley Foundation, we have agreed a joint programme which includes: the drafting of a new UN Convention, to enable countries to introduce evidence-based policies; research into regulation and taxation of cannabis; and an international commission to promote the best drugs policies, implemented by countries including Portugal.
Fifty years on, it is time for change.
Baroness Molly Meacher (Chairman),
Dr. Julian Huppert, MP (Vice-Chairman),
Lord Lawson of Blaby,
Peter Bottolmley, MP
Tom Brake, MP,
Caroline Lucas, MP
Plus 39 other signatories, whose names can be seen at thetimes.co.uk/letters