Parliamentary Committee Recommends Overhaul of British Drug Laws

Press Release June 21, 2002
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Shayna Samuels at 212- 547-6916 or Dani McClain at 212-548-0611

A groundbreaking report released today by the Home Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons recommends a dramatic shift away from criminalization and an expanded public health approach to drug-related problems. Citing the failure of law enforcement efforts to reduce drug-related harm, the committee is proposing public health alternatives already in use in the Netherlands and Switzerland, including research trials for heroin maintenance treatment; safer injection rooms to reduce risks associated with injection drug use; expanded treatment for cocaine users; and significant ecstasy and marijuana law reform.

The British recommendations for reform stand in stark contrast with drug policy in the United States, where law enforcement officials continue to arrest millions of non-violent Americans who use drugs, including medical marijuana patients.

“As England gets smarter in its approach to drug policy, the United States gets more reactionary,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Europe, Canada, and Australia are all abandoning the punitive approach to drugs, while U.S. drug warriors forge ahead with the same failed tactics.”

David Cameron MP, Conservative member of the Home Affairs Committee, stated in a committee press release:

Drugs policy in this country has been failing for decades. Drug abuse has increased massively, the number of drug-related deaths has risen substantially and drug-related crime accounts for up to half of all acquisitive crime. I hope that our report will encourage fresh thinking and a new approach. We need to get away from entrenched positions and try to reduce the harm that drugs do both to users and society at large.

The main recommendations of the report include:

“The British are increasingly putting public health and safety above fear and prejudice in their drug policy,” said Nadelmann. “U.S. policymakers should follow their lead.”

The full report is available at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmselect/cmhaff/318/31802.htm



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