Call for a fresh approach on drugs policy

Monday, 12 September, 2016

Our Deputy Director Will McMahon co-signed a letter in The Sunday Telegraph, published yesterday, calling for the government to join the growing global policy shift towards a health-led approach in relation to the harms of controlled substance misuse. The call comes as the government prepares to refresh its drug strategy in the coming year.

The letter was organised by the Royal Society for Public Health, and signed by, among others, the Society's Chief Executive, Shirley Cramer, Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, and Martyn Underhill, Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner. 

The letter points out that more than half of British public think drug users should be referred to health treatment rather than criminalised, and just a quarter believe that the current strategy protects health.

Will said:

The Centre has a particular interest in drug policy. Earlier this year we hosted an event exploring Portugal's experience of decriminalising the posession of drugs for personal use at which Joao Castel-Branco, the architect of the Portuguese strategy, spoke.

More broadly, we launched our Justice Matters initiative to champion effective solutions to the social and health problems that too often lead to criminalisation. Drugs misuse is a health problem and should be treated as such.

Bringing someone into the criminal justice system for personal drug misuse simply adds to the problems they face and does nothing to resolve the social harm they are experiencing and may be causing to others.