Friday, 16 September 2011

Liberal Youth members on Drug Policy

Liberal Youth members Cath Smith, Chris Ward and Sarah Harding explain why Liberal Democrat members should vote in favour of evidence based drug policy at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference this weekend.

When you’ve been on a diet for 40 years and haven’t lost any weight you change your diet.

The same is true of drugs policy in this country. The Global Report on Drugs Policy which included former UN Secretary Kofi Annan, concluded that the decades-old worldwide "war on drugs has failed”

On Sunday evening, Liberal Democrat conference have a golden opportunity to take the first step to righting this wrong, and introducing a fair, evidence based drugs policy. The motion proposed to conference calls for a scientific approach to drugs, drawing inspiration from best practise in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal, as well as the findings of the 2010 drugs strategy consultation.

Drugs policy has long been a taboo in the political world. Our leaders don’t talk about treatment, for fear of looking soft. They don’t talk about the negative impact of criminalisation in case they are branded too liberal. They don’t even talk about the science, because the science points out such obvious inconsistency.

Each year worldwide drug use increases, criminality linked to drugs increases and the bill for the war on drugs increases vastly. The most important part of the motion is not what it says in the text, it’s the fact that a party of government is standing up and talking about it. If this passes it opens up the debate, it asks our politicians to look again and start talking about alternatives to the failed zero tolerance policy.

Young drug users must not be punished, when often they are victims of crime and poverty. The motion calls for the priority of these people to change from punishment, to rehabilitation and education. Often young people fall into drug use, are punished and are stuck in a vicous circle, with future prospects becoming closed of to them.

Drugs policy should never be based on outdated stigma's and stereotypes. The motion calls for a new approach to drugs policy in the United Kingdom, based on science. It calls for drug users to be treated as victims, not as criminals and puts more emphasis on education and rehabilitation.

Liberal Youth is one of the movers of the motion, and has a proud record of campaigning for a sensible attitude on drugs. We are proud to be supporters of this motion.

To coincide with the motion at conference, Liberal Youth is also running campaigns on an evidence based approach to drugs policy. Literature will be going out in our Freshers packs, and up and down the country we’ll be promoting how we should be talking sense on drugs. Please click here to order this material.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Drug Policy in Portugal: The benefits of decriminalising drug use

A new report has been published by the Open Society Foundation covering the benefits of decriminalising drug use.

The report explores the last decade of drug policy reform in Portugal, where since 2001 the responsibility of reducing demand has been with the Ministry of Health, rather than with the Ministry of Justice. Defying convention, drug-dependent persons have been viewed as patients rather than criminals.

The report by award-winning journalist Artur Domoslawski, is available for download from the Open Society.

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