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Britain to Study Other Countries' Drug Reforms

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #775)

British Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a "what works" study of drug reforms in other countries, but has rejected a call from the House of Commons for a quick-acting royal commission on reform. The Commons home affairs select committee had called for a royal commission to report by 2015 on how to change the country's 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act.

While not going as far as MPs might have liked, the move suggests that the Tory government of Prime Minister David Cameron feels the ground shifting beneath it on drug policy, in part because its junior partners in the governing coalition, the Liberal Democrats, advocate for a much more radical approach.

"The government does not believe there is a case for fundamentally re-thinking the UK's approach to drugs -- a royal commission is simply not necessary," said May's official response to the select committee. "Nonetheless, we must continue to listen and learn from emerging trends, new evidence and international comparators. In particular we will build on the commitment in the drug strategy to 'review new evidence of what works in other countries and what we can learn from it' and conduct a study on international comparators to learn more from the approach in other countries," she conceded.

But May's response also signaled that the government has already made up its mind on at least one topic, and that had the drug reform groups Release and Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) calling foul.

"The coalition government has no intention of decriminalizing drugs," May said, but added that any discussion of alternatives should be based on evidence and analysis.

"Is Theresa May calling for a review whilst promising to not act on the information gathered?" Release asked in Thursday tweet.

TDPF echoed that sentiment in its own tweet: "Why does HASC response say 'no intention of decriminalizing drugs' in same para as announcement of evidence-based inquiry into same?"

The review will be led by Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Jeremy Brown. It will include a trip to Portugal to study that county's experience under decriminalization, as well as a look at the effects of the marijuana legalization votes in Colorado and Washington, medical marijuana in US states, and the international response to new synthetic drugs or "legal highs."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Tony Aroma (not verified)

I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are doing more harm than good in certain places.

That's what Obama said in response to a request to review drug policy at the America's summit in 2012.  He followed that up by saying that the US has no intention of changing its drug policy.

Seems to me telling someone you're willing to discuss an issue, but have already made up your mind and have no intention of changing it is pretty insulting, not to mention condescending.  I'd say the British Home Secretary has dissed the House of Commons pretty good.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 8:34pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

You just can`t make this stuff up . Theresa May has obviously no knowledge of British history in the Drug Trade . I`ve never been to Europe and even I know about it . The British Monarchy/Government , has been up to its chin in the " Drug Trade " since the beginning . As well as alcohol during prohibition . This notion that they are " going to study what works in other Nations " , is beyond the pale . Imagine Tom Brady showing up at your house one day and asking you for advice on how to throw a football .?  Or Brittany Spears coming over for lip-synch advice .? How much $$$ will this study of currently known facts and statistics cost the Brit`s ? Sounds like a government jobs program for a just a few people to me . Funded by ... guess who ?. ...... Simply amazing .

Sat, 03/09/2013 - 1:18am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Their guilt over forcing China to take their opium for tea for over 100 years lasted about ten.Then they ended their heroin program and went to methadone,which is harmful and not even close to what the addict wants.Now Vancouver has a program with heroin and cocaine.How do you get in?Don't ask me.I've been addicted for over 40 years and failed on methadone at least 20 times and I can't get on.As for the brits?They are just confirming what they already know.Even though what they know is very little.It's also misguided and comes with a great deal of American arm twisting.

Sat, 03/09/2013 - 7:14pm Permalink

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