Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation

with 3 comments

All over the BBC this morning is the story that addicts may have their benefits withdrawn if they refuse treatment.  This, apparently,  is a proposal included in the Home Office’s new Drug Strategy consultation document.

Where is this document?  It’s not on the Home Office website.  That’s a bit strange for something that purports to be about consulting with the public isn’t it?

I had to phone the Home Office press office to get a copy.  I shouldn’t have to be doing this for the government but you can download it here:

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation Document

Theresa May and James Brokenshire, the ministers responsible for this, should remember that they are not in office to preserve the status quo or cook up policies between themselves based on the misinformation that the Home Office currently promotes.  Their first responsiblity after their duty to the Queen is to the public.  Consultation is not something they should pay lip service to, nor is it something they can pick or choose.   It should determine  their actions.

As part of this consultation, the Home Office should take into account the tens of thousands of people who have used the Your Freedom website to call for relaxation in the drug laws and particularly the legalisation of cannabis.

I urge everybody with any interest in the drugs issue to download, complete and return the consultation document.  It’s presented as a Q&A form.  I also suggest that you keep a copy and send a copy to your MP.  Regrettably the Home Office doesn’t have a good record on keeping track of what the public says to it.  It loses a lot of things.

On the face of it, I support the idea that if you’re a heroin, cocaine, alcohol or prescription drug addict and you’re offered treatment but refuse it then you shouldn’t be able to live on benefits.   That seems entirely just.   The danger is that just as current drug laws drive addicts to crime and prostitution so will this.  This is progress though.  There has to be personal responsibility but also some flexibility to ensure this doesn’t become another self-defeating policy.   Most important of all, possession of drugs for personal use and/or social supply must be taken out of the criminal law.

The other headline grabbing proposal is that the government should be able to impose a temporary 12 month ban on “new substances”.  This is designed to tackle the danger of “legal highs” – a danger mainly of the government’s own making because of its policy of prohibition.   There is a real glimmer of hope and intelligence here though because “Possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people”.  I applaud this.  It shows that it is possible to get common sense  from the Home Office.  There is hope yet!

***UPDATE***

As I go to press  (oh, alright, as my finger hovers over the “publish” button), the consultation document has become available on the Home Office website.  A little tardy but better late than never.

You can respond to this consultation until 30th September 2010.  Make sure you do.

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3 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Reynolds, Peter Reynolds. Peter Reynolds said: Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation : http://wp.me/pgXXJ-yp […]

  2. Good work Peter but I would suggest you review your terminology and language. You are inadvertently using prohibitionist language memes like the LCA do – once you understand our legal work you will appreciate that using these terms takes two steps backwards before you even start. Illegal drugs simply do not exist in law or even concept, and legalisation or decriminalisation of drugs is an impossibility given that the law does not control objects.

    Cannabis – how should it be regulated? ‘It’ is not being regulated, ‘it’ is your mind that is being regulated. It is you who are denied it, not it that is denied you. It is you who cannot ‘be’ with it, not it that cannot ‘be’ with you. It is you who cannot ‘be’ without it, not it that cannot be’ without you.

    darryl@drugequality.org

    Darryl Bickler

    August 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    • You are, of course, quite correct Darryl. A very good point! As someone who to tries to be a stickler for good grammar, you have me hoist on my own petard!

      However, although you may be correct, I am not convinced that this does or will do anything to advance our cause. I am already aware of your organisation. I shall find time over the next week or so to review your website in more depth.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Peter Reynolds

      August 24, 2010 at 11:12 am


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