Lib Dem Act

There has been some confusion among some people as to where the Liberal Democrats currently stand on drugs. The below is a reply that a user received to an email querying this very topic. I have highlighted what I feel are some of the most important parts, although everything is important to a certain degree.

There is definite room for improvement in many of these policies, as several things have changed since this was written and several important documents have been published from various organisations (eg. Transform - Blueprint for Regulation) that have the potential to inform this policy.

"Drugs

The Policy in Brief

The punitive approach to drug users that we have followed for decades has not been
successful.
Drug use is higher than ever and our prisons are full to bursting with drug
addicts. It is time to stop criminalising drug users and start focusing on ending their
addiction through medical treatment. The Liberal Democrats will place policy making in
the drugs field on a much firmer evidence-based footing.
This will involve the reform of
excessive and counterproductive criminal penalties and the promotion of a more
effective policy to reduce drug dependency and its adverse consequences.
We will also
break the links between cannabis use and organised crime and release police resources
for higher priority tasks.

Why is it Necessary

The current law is not working. It neither effectively deters people from drug use nor
ensures effective education and treatment.
The UK has one of the most punitive
approaches in Europe, yet according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and
Drug Abuse the UK has one of the highest levels of drug use in Europe.

1 In 2006/07, 10% of adults (age 16-59) in England and Wales had used one or more
illegal drug in the past year, and 5.9% in the last month.

2 In 2006/07, 24.1% of 16-24 year olds said they had used an illegal drug in the last
year. 8.3 % reported ‘frequent use’.

3 In 2007, 17% of 11-15 year olds in England say they have used illegal drugs in the
last year, 10% in the last month.

4 We need to view drug misuse more as a public health issue and focus overstretched
criminal justice resources on the dealers and organised criminals. The law has to be
credible. The current classification system needs to be changed to ensure it is more
credible.

We believe treatment and prevention should be the priority for individuals who use
drugs.
But the full force of the criminal law should be directed at the thugs and pushers
who run the illegal drugs trade. Our overstretched police, courts and prisons should be
focusing their efforts on these organised criminals. That is why we are proposing tough
new measures to combat them, including a new offence of ‘dealing’ to target those
supplying illegal drugs over long periods of time, making it easier to confiscate their
assets, and allowing the selling of drugs near children to be an aggravating factor in
sentencing.

Policy Detail

Place policy making in the drugs field on a much firmer evidence-based footing by:
Re-establishing the existing Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs as a standing
Drugs Commission with a wider range of expertise, greater independence from the
Government,
and a remit to look at social effects and abuse of legal drugs
including alcohol, tobacco and solvents as well as currently illegal drugs.

Giving the Drugs Commission the task of advising the Government on appropriate
scheduling of drugs and policy responses on a continuous basis.
Requiring the Drugs Commission to conduct a major audit of the extent and social
and economic costs of the drugs problem in the UK and the effectiveness of
policies to tackle it.
Seeking to initiate a European level review of the drugs problem and the range of
policy responses with a view to securing renegotiation of UN Conventions on Drug
Trafficking.
(this is very important)

Break the links between cannabis use and organised crime and release police
resources for higher priority tasks by:
Retaining the classification of cannabis as a Class C drug, in line with the
recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which
the Government ignored.
Adopting a policy of not prosecuting possession for own use, social supply to
adults or cultivation of cannabis plants for own use.

Repealing Sections 8 (c) and (d) of the Misuse of Drugs Act so that it is no longer a
crime for the occupier or manager of premises to permit someone to use cannabis
on those premises.

Permitting medical use of cannabis derivatives, subject to appropriate
pharmaceutical controls and the successful conclusion of current clinical trials.
In the longer term, seeking to put the supply of cannabis on a legal, regulated
basis, subject to securing necessary renegotiation of the UN Conventions. The
Global Cannabis Commission report of September 2008, published as part of the
2009 UN drug policy review supports a policy of regulated availability to minimise
the harms associated with cannabis abuse, adding that much of this harm is a
result of prohibition itself.
Reform excessive and counterproductive criminal penalties by:
Ending the use of imprisonment for possession for own use of illegal drugs of any
class.


Re-classifying ecstasy from Class A to Class B, but not re-classifying it further unless
recommended by the Drugs Commission subject to evidence on long-term health
effects. The ACMD is currently undertaking a review of ecstasy’s Class A status.
Amending sections 8 (a) and (b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act as recommended by
Runciman so that occupiers or managers of premises only commit a crime if they
knowingly and wilfully permit the supply or production of illegal drugs on those
premises.

Promote a more effective policy to reduce drug dependency and its adverse
consequences by:
Developing specialist heroin treatment clinics where heroin or heroin substitutes
can be administered under controlled conditions, with other medical treatment
and testing, and counselling and withdrawal programmes available, with the longterm
aim of making such services widely available.

Allowing GPs to prescribe short term or emergency maintenance doses of
addictive drugs, particularly diamorphine hydrochloride (heroin), to remove the
dependence of any new or existing addicts on criminal suppliers.
Repealing section 9A of the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow harm minimisation
programmes to distribute drug paraphernalia such as safe tourniquets, as
recommended by Runciman.
Assessing other alternatives to criminal sanctions such as Drug Treatment and
Testing Orders (DTTOs) and Drug Abstinence Orders (DAOs) and if suitable,
extending their use. DTTOs are used for offenders who have drug misuse issues
that require treatment. It requires compliance by the offender, who receives
supervised treatment and regular testing. DAOs are aimed at low level offenders,
with low level drug use, who are not assessed as being suitable for treatment.
Re-allocating resources towards making treatment and rehabilitation facilities and
programmes more generally available.

Crack down on illegal drug trafficking and drug affected driving by:
Introducing a new offence of ‘dealing’ as recommended by Runciman to allow
more effective action against those proved to be supplying illegal drugs over long
periods of time.
Allowing the selling of drugs near schools, psychiatric facilities and other sensitive
locations to be an aggravating factor in sentencing, as recommended by
Runciman.
Launching a public information campaign on the dangers of drug-affected driving,
and encouraging the police to carry out roadside sobriety testing of suspected
unfit drivers when appropriate.

Costs/Savings:
Sending just 1 in 10 drug users to residential rehab instead of prison
would save £40m a year.

Tags: cannabis, drug, drugs, ectasy, policy

Views: 2086

Replies to This Discussion

The important thing to take away from this is that the Liberal Democrats do not believe in criminalising drug users, they support evidence based drug policy and want to try and take control of the supply of currently illegal drugs.

They also acknowledge that prohibition causes a lot of harm to individuals and society, citing a UN report which showed that much of this harm from cannabis use is a result of prohibition itself.

The emphasis is on harm reduction. They wouldn't put forward all these policies if they didn't think that prohibition causes considerable harm itself.

I know you don't agree with these policies Paul and you're free to disagree but it's important that the overall position of the Liberal Democrats is clarified so that things are clear.
i think its about time that someone changed things for the better and this new law is the way forward ,people should not be made criminals for using cannabis in there own homes ,being forced to buy cannabis from criminal gangs and funding other criminal activities is just not on .what harm are they doing anyway cannabis is a herb ,a plant, the goverments sceintist proved it did less harm than tobacco and alcohol yet it is against the law ,well at least the liberal dems are opening there eyes ,why fill are already crammed prisons with people who have a bit of cannabis hard drug user aswell,sending them to prison doesnt work the need help not prison i bet 90% re offend i think the liberal dems are forward thinking ive never voted for them i admit ,, but i will now ,labour goverment doesnt even listen to its own advisors ,whats the point in having advisors if you dont listen to them its time to update the drug laws well done the libs for actually thinking and not being afraid
I think the lib dems drugs policy is awesome I'm a user of cannabis myself and I ever since I started smoking it my lifes been going a hole lot better. If cannabis did get decrimanlised it would be great. I would'ent have to brake the law and I dont really like braking the law. Cannabis is a great, yes it has its downsides, but it makes meny thing better! It makes sex feel better, it make food taste better, it makes crappy movies better it relaxes you it makes alot of things feel better even watching the MPs debuting in the house of commens hahahaha! The only person your harming is your self no one else just your self it sould be up to you how to live your life and what things you put in your body. I'm not saying that all drugs are good its just that cannabis is just a herb.
So does this mean we could grow cannabis, for recreation, as long as we keep it to ourselves or give it to people, of consented age I assume, for free? With no risk of being arrested or risking a criminal record?
they got my vote just for this. i think if they leaglised cannabis and we had coffee shops throughout the whole of the uk, it would bring us out of recession well and truly, just think of all the jobs it would create, taxes and police savings. IT'S A NO BRAINER you only got to look at holland
So... how long til this is implemented then?
I think this is what we're getting instead:

"We will introduce a system of temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’ while health issues are considered by independent experts. We will not permanently ban a substance without receiving full advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs."
Hi guys,

Right. I think one of the first things we shoudl do is try and push for a change in this policy to something along the lines of this.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/17/mephedrone-clas...

I think we need to remain positive. The fact that the government have said they won't ban a substance permanently until the ACMD have reported back is encouraging. For example if the ACMD advise that a 'legal high' shouldn't be banned as based on the evidence it is not dangerous enough to be classified, what is that going to say for drugs that are already classified and are deemed to be less dangerous like cannabis?

It suggests the ACMD are able to decide whether a drug should or should not be banned but has the ACMD ever had that power? Surely it's just asked where a drug should be classified, not whether it should be prohibited or not, which incidently is the purpose of the act if you read it carefully as the act allows for arrangements to be made for supply of the drug. It's right there at the beginning of the act.
constitute a social problem, and to give to any one or more of the Ministers, where either the Council consider it expedient to do so or they are consulted by the Minister or Ministers in question, advice on measures (whether or not involving alteration of the law) which in the opinion of the Council ought to be taken for preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with social problems connected with their misuse, and in particular on measures which in the opinion of the Council ought to be taken:
(a) for restricting the availability of such drugs or supervising the arrangements for their supply;
(b) for enabling persons affected by the misuse of such drugs to obtain proper advice, and for securing the provision of proper facilities and services for the treatment, rehabilitation and after-care of such persons;
(c) for promoting co-operation between the various professional and community services which in the opinion of the Council have a part to play in dealing with social problems connected with the misuse of such drugs;
(d) for educating the public (and in particular the young) in the dangers of misusing such drugs, and for giving publicity to those dangers; and
(e) for promoting research into, or otherwise obtaining information about, any matter which in the opinion of the Council is of relevance for the purpose of preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with any social problem connected with their misuse.
Adam said:
Hi guys,

Right. I think one of the first things we shoudl do is try and push for a change in this policy to something along the lines of this. ...
It's a start but without a clear commitment to make the ACMD independent of government control then it won't change the situation. We also need a definate commitment to a drugs policy which is based on scientific evidence and not moralistic scare mongering. And a full review of our existing drugs policy wouldn't go amiss.
If, after all that, the ACMD found that our drugs policy was working as it should and providing good value for money... I'd eat my hat.
The government, should adopt Holland’s policy or similar, and do it tomorrow. If the government allowed coffee shops and taxed the profits of all sales from coffee and weed and allowed people to purchase a licence to grow, the money that would be going into the public purse would surely solve some of the problems we are now facing, i just can’t believe that under such tough economic times that the government are not using this as a long term plan to help pay off the deficit. Prostitution is surely another untapped resource for taxes. Just imagine Soho with coffee shops and legal well run brothels, the tourism would surely benefit and all of the jobs created throughout the whole of the UK and all that extra money for the public purse ( 3,000,000, million cannabis users spending on average lets say £10 pounds a week =£30,000,000 x 52 = £1560,000,000 tax it at just 30% brings £468,000,000 and that doesn’t mention taxes on people serving in shops and police savings. If the shops brought problems and needed policing then the shops could pay for it.) but no we will keep wasting taxes on prosecuting users and the dealers they manage to arrest, and solving absolutely nothing. This situation will never change, and we need to benefit from this and not to waste valuable public money fighting a battle they will never win. I lived in Holland for 2 years working and your average government housing estate has so much more for the youth. They have football pitches, tennis courts, swimming pools, gymnasiums, how can they do it yet we can’t.
And not to mention the medical benefits from cannabis that are kept from people that are suffering and dying. it makes me sick, my mum has cancer and all you get from the NHS is poorly administered lethal drugs that kill quicker than cancer. It is time for REAL change, not just shuffling the same pack of cards.

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