Centre at forefront of calls for drugs policy reform

Monday, 9 May 2016

Our forthcoming event, 'Responding to drug harms: Can the UK learn from Portugal?', featured in an article in The Observer yesterday about a bill proposing radical reform of UK drug laws. 

The bill proposes the introduction of a legal cannabis market in the UK.  According to opinion polls the majority of the public back a regulated cannabis market.

Our event on 16 May will discuss the implications of Portugal's approach to drug harms for UK drugs policy. Portugal's approach involves health, rather than criminal justice, responses to drug harms, and possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use is decriminalised.

One of architects of this system, João Castel-Branco Goulão, will speak at the event. He will be joined by: Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Police; Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release; Kenny MacAskill MSP, former Scottish Justice Secretary; and , Baroness Meacher, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform.

Our Director Richard Garside says in the Observer article:

'More and more people recognise that the UK’s drug control regime has been a public health disaster that has unnecessarily criminalised countless people'

'Portugal’s health-based approach to drug regulation and regulated cannabis markets in several US states offer examples of how drugs might be regulated differently. Regardless of the fortunes of the cannabis bill, there is a growing sense that drug-taking needs to be treated as a health and education, not criminal justice, challenge.'