House of Lords Event – Beckley Foundation


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Press Release

  International Drug Policy Conference at House of Lords 17th-18th November 2011

New Beckley Foundation Project launched:  Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform

 17th November 2011

On Thursday 17 November, the Beckley Foundation and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform will be hosting a two day international drug policy conference at the House of Lords. Senior political representatives from around thirty countries will gather to discuss possible reforms to global drug policy, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy will present the findings of their Report.

The Beckley Foundation will be represented by Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss, its Director and Architect of the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform.

Case studies in the liberalisation of drugs policy will be presented to attendees and there will be a debate on the reform of cannabis policy. Importantly, there will be a presentation discussing the first-ever Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Regulated and Taxed Cannabis Market, commissioned by the Beckley Foundation. Other topics to be debated include reforms to cannabis policy in the US, as well as regulation of cannabis supply in Spain.

On the second day of the Meeting, there will be a closed session for country representatives interested in discussing possible UN convention amendments, based around the groundbreaking Report by Prof. Robin Room, Rewriting the UN Drug Conventions. This Report was also commissioned by the Beckley Foundation.

The Meeting will also mark the launch of the Beckley Foundation’s Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform.

The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform promotes health-oriented, cost-effective policies based on scientific evidence and human rights. The Initiative has launched a dedicated educational website,, to provide background information about past and present global and domestic drug policies, as well as about new approaches.  In addition, the Initiative is promoting a public petition addressed to Ban Ki Moon, to request drug policy reform, currently with almost 700,000 signatures.

The Global Commission for Drug Policy, which includes on its board Kofi Annan, George P. Shultz, Sir Richard Branson, and four former Presidents, states in its Recommendations:

–          “Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens”;

–          “Respect the human rights of people who use drugs”;

–          “Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security”.

Commenting, Amanda Feilding, Director of the Beckley Foundation, states: “Improving our drug policy is one of the key policy challenges of our time. Let us break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now.”

She adds: “The current, criminalising approach has failed to achieve its stated aims of reducing drug-use, availability, and related harms. It has also caused devastating collateral damage at the national, community and individual levels. We must demand new approaches that can achieve harm-reduction in more effective, fiscally responsible, and scientifically-based ways”

The fifty-year long War on Drugs has failed. Despite governments spending globally in excess of $100 billion a year on fighting the Drug War, there has been a clear long-term pattern of increasing availability and use.

“The unintended consequences of the current policies include ever-growing health problems and soaring levels of crime, violence and corruption throughout the world. It has also stigmatized and criminalized hundreds of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens world-wide.

“The illicit drug trade is now the third most valuable industry in the world, estimated to be worth $450 billion per year, all in the hands of criminals… it is time to rethink our policies”



Notes to editors:

1)      On Saturday 19 November, the Beckley Foundation is releasing a Public Letter, signed by eminent international politicians, Nobel Prize winners, academics and celebrities.  A separate press release will be sent out on Thursday 17th November.

2)      Please see the attached flyer for the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform.

3)      The Beckley Foundation is the leading drug policy think tank in the UK, and has commissioned over 35 much-cited Drug Policy Reports, Briefing Papers and Proceedings Documents, as well as hosting 8 international Drug Policy Seminars at the House of Lords (see Global Initiative Flyer for more details).

Press enquiries:

The Beckley Foundation: – 01865 351209 / 01865 351019,;


Amanda Feilding, Director of the Beckley Foundation:  – 07860 188250,;


Dave King, Researcher at the Beckley Foundation: – 07515 927680,;

Vivian Kear, Assistant to Amanda Feilding: – 07919 997048,;

Prof. David Nutt, Chair, Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs: – 0207 594 6628 / 07590 250428

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