18 Apr HASC Drugs Inquiry. An Analysis Of The Written Evidence. Part 3

HASC Drugs Inquiry. An Analysis Of The Written Evidence. Part 1

HASC Drugs Inquiry. An Analysis Of The Written Evidence. Part 2

In the final part of this series I will continue to point to the submissions worth reading, both highlights and lowlights.

You can download the 731 pages of written evidence here.

Paul Sax, at 97, presents an eloquent argument about the failure to control alcohol and tobacco under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Dr Mark Monaghan, at 102, from the University of Leeds, analyses how policymakers pick and choose the evidence that suits their own opinions. He argues that while drugs policy remains within the Home Office, it will always be regarded as an issue of criminal justice.

Steve Rolles, at 127, from Transform, cites himself and his colleagues as evidence more than any independent source but makes some powerful points, particularly at 6.2, where he exposes the dishonest language and “standardised wording” in government responses to calls for reform.

Darryl Bickler, at 130, of the Drug Equality Alliance, herewith, the aforesaid doth present his pleadings in the most arcane language whilst arguing that language is the root of all failings in drugs policy!

Professor Jake Chapman, at 136, presents a fascinating analysis of the way that drug policy is formulated and discussed. He is an expert in “systems thinking” and demonstrates how a rational and ordered approach to policy making would be of enormous benefit.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), at 162, of course favours the status quo which provides employment and power for its members. Its submission focuses mainly on the reduction in police budgets and the issue of legal highs. However, in one of the most revealing statements in all 731 pages of written evidence, ACPO says:

“…the police will continue to focus their energies on serious criminality and take a less robust enforcement approach on matters relating to personal possession. The recently published guidelines from the Sentencing Council tend to endorse this approach.”

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), at 170, walks its usual tightrope between what the evidence says and what its masters at the Home Office want to hear. It makes an excellent case for decriminalisation but then says “that the possession of drugs is a criminal offence and should remain a criminal offence.”

There are many other submissions of interest. 80% are in favour of reform and there is some very eloquent and heartfelt testimony from people who have suffered under the great immoral evil of prohibition. Just 20%, 34 out of 171 submissions support the status quo and many of those are simply out of self interest.

The truth is that we have won the argument. It is just a question of how long it will take our cowardly politicians to take responsibility and do the right thing.