Thursday, 14 January 2010

paraphrasing Gordon Brown "Evidence. Pah! We will never follow evidence!"

So the second of the open goals for the Liberal Democrats provided yesterday was contained within a letter Gordon Brown wrote to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation (reproduced in full here: http://transform-drugs.blogspot.com/2010/01/gordon-brown-responds-to-transforms.html )

The key paragraph is this:

"We do not intend to undertake an impact assessment comparing the costs and benefits of different legislative options for domestic drug policy. We see no merit in embarking upon such an undertaking in view of our longstanding position that we do not accept that legalisation and regulation are now, or will be in the future, an acceptable response to the presence of drugs."

Meanwhile, the people of Scotland are dying drug-related deaths at twice the rate of a decade ago and the people of Switzerland and Portugal are dying drug-related deaths at around half the rate they were before the countries addressed their drug problems and enacted progressive reforms in response.

Along with 10 other elected reps, I submitted a policy motion yesterday calling for government to control and regulate psychoactive drugs. While I would love the conference committee to accept the motion for debate, this is not necessary for the lib dems to establish clear water between themselves and Labour on the issue. All we need to do is state a commitment to evidence-based drugs policy. The voters were rightly enthusiastic about our response to the sacking of David Nutt. We should now stand up and announce that we will examine all options for drug policy. Rather than commit ourselves to everlasting head-in-the-sand dogmatism, we should say that drugs are a massive problem in our nation's communities. Current policies have failed to address these problems. The Lib Dems want to explore how we can keep drugs out of the hands of children and vulnerable young people, how to reduce the crime committed by drug addicts, how to turn around the lives of street prostitutes and how to tackle the vicious organised criminals that run this nation's drugs trade. If the evidence points to tougher policing, that is the path we should take. If the evidence suggests international conventions are the source of much of the suffering associated with drugs, then we should challenge them.

Drugs policy, like all policy, should follow the evidence. This is not so much to ask.

4 comments:

Rob said...

"the people of Scotland are dying drug-related deaths at twice the rate of a decade ago and the people of Switzerland and Portugal are dying drug-related deaths at around half the rate they were before the countries addressed their drug problems and enacted progressive reforms in response." Can you point to evidence for those statements? I'm not questioning them - I want to follow them up.

Ewan Hoyle said...

Scotland:
http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files2/stats/drug-related-deaths/drug-related-deaths-in-scotland-in-2008.pdf graph on page 15.

Portugal: http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf It doesn't say reduced by half explicitly but analysis of the information on pages 17-18 suggest that would be a conservative estimate.

Switzerland:
http://www.iatdmct.org/images/File/INJECTABLE_HEROIN_PRESCRIPTION_version_Feb5.pdf page 3

Ewan Hoyle said...

http://bit.ly/6UGU6U
http://bit.ly/Zu9m
http://bit.ly/5zqaff

If you have problems using the links provided previously, these are the Swiss, Portuguese and Scottish references in more manageable link form.

Rob said...

That's brilliant, thanks.