10 Dec HASC Drugs Inquiry Report, ‘Breaking The Cycle’ – A CLEAR Analysis

Download the report here.

Can any such report ever meet expectations?

Probably not but that is no reason to excuse its failings and the failings are far more obvious than the achievements in the report on this year-long inquiry.

It lacks any clear vision, It is obsessed and diverted with detail.

It is fixed in the useless, irrational position of treating all drugs the same except the two most harmful, alcohol and tobacco. It recognises the hypocrisy and danger in this but has no courage to address the issue. In consequence, it makes excuses for the death and misery caused by booze and fags and treats heroin and cannabis as if they are the same.

This is the report’s greatest failing. It is trapped in the hopeless paradigm of drugs policy that has not changed since the 1960s. It is defined by its absence of courage or insight.

As CLEAR has repeatedly cautioned, directly to each individual member of the committee, the inquiry has made two grave omissions which, in themselves, destroy its credibility:

1. No consideration for the 99% of all drug users who are non-problematic

2. A cruel and irresponsible failure to consider the medicinal use of cannabis, which issue was the most often advanced in written evidence but which the committee has entirely ignored.

The key passages for those concerned with CLEAR’s policies are:

“…young people seeking treatment for problem cannabis use has risen by around a third, from 3,328 in 2005-06 to 4,741 in 2011-12.”

“We recommend that the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health should be given joint overall responsibility for coordinating drug policy. By giving joint lead responsibility to the Home Office and Department for Health, the Government would acknowledge that the misuse of drugs is a public health problem at least as much as a criminal justice issue.”

“We remain, however, of the view expressed in our predecessor’s report, namely that cannabis be reclassified from class B to C, and therefore regret the decision taken by the Government in 2008.”

“…we believe that there is now, more than ever, a case for a fundamental review of all UK drugs policy in the international context, to establish a package of measures that will be effective in combating the harm caused by drugs, both at home and abroad. We recommend the establishment of a Royal Commission to consider the best ways of reducing the harm caused by drugs in an increasingly globalised world. In order to avoid an overly long, overly expensive review process, we recommend that such a commission be set up immediately and be required to report in 2015.”

“Following the legalisation of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado and the proposed state monopoly of cannabis production and sale in Uruguay, we recommend that the Government fund a detailed research project to monitor the effects of each legalisation system to measure the effectiveness of each and the overall costs and benefits of cannabis legalisation.”

Over the last year, CLEAR and its members have sought to work with the committee and engage with its process. That has been difficult to maintain in the face of the diffidence and arrogance of those who seek to make policy over us and their failure to look at all the evidence. Nevertheless, we have given parliamentary process its chance and it has failed entirely to move or even look beyond the status quo.

All those who care enough to want a safer, more intelligent and effective drugs policy must now consider their way forward. These past 12 months have achieved very little.

The British people are owed far, far better than this by their policymakers.