My MP, Richard Drax, To Write To David Cameron On Drugs Policy
Today I met with my MP, Richard Drax. He was just as sickeningly handsome and charming as I expected him to be! So I showed him no mercy and bombarded him with my opinions for a good half an hour.
I realised afterwards that my favourite maxim “less is more” would have been a better strategy. Nevertheless, he did offer to write to David Cameron on my behalf on drugs policy and seemed genuinely sympathetic to some of the points I made.
I have just sent him a lengthy email in confirmation which I reproduce below. If anyone wishes to use this as a template for a letter or email to their own MP, please feel free to do so.
Thank you so much for your time today. I very much enjoyed meeting you. As I said, I came with opinions not problems. I am grateful to you for listening to me.
I realise that I made the classic mistake of bombarding you with far too much information and not giving you time to absorb any. I hope I may correct that error by summarising here what we talked about.
1. Gary McKinnon. Thank heavens that progress seems to have been made on this. The idea of an “extradition” treaty that provides for someone to be sent to the USA for trial on an alleged crime committed here is iniquitous. It’s particularly unfair in McKinnon’s case as he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. You pointed out to me that similar dangers exist with the new European arrest warrant.
I would urge you to do everything possible to ensure that if Gary McKinnon is to be tried, it should take place in the UK.
2. Ian Tomlinson. In my view the failure to prosecute the policeman who assaulted him is an outrage and Keir Starmer’s reasons entirely inadequate. Now that the credibility of the pathologist in the case has been destroyed by a GMC panel, Starmer should at least reconsider and hopefully reverse his decision.
I would urge you to press for a re-consideration of the decision not to bring charges. If no criminal charges are brought, at the very least the disciplinary hearing should be held in public as the rules allow. The Tomlinson family are entitled to justice.
3. Drugs policy. You very kindly agreed to write to David Cameron on my behalf. I am very concerned at the conduct of the Home Office at present and particularly James Brokenshire, the Minister for Crime Prevention who is causing great damage to both the coalition governemnt and the Tory party by promoting ideas and policies that contradict virtually all expert opinion, including the government’s own scientific advisers. He also seems to be completely at odds with the calls for drug law reform which both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have made consistently over the last 10 years.
This is not a peripheral or secondary issue. According to Baroness Meacher in the House of Lords on 15th June 2010, “There is no more obvious waste than the £19 billion annual cost of the UK’s war on drugs”.
There is a huge amount of reference material on this subject on my blog:
I would also refer you to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation which has highly detailed and almost universally acclaimed proposals for drug regulation:
Virtually all experts agree that the “war on drugs” has failed. In exactly the same way as alcohol prohibition in the US led to a massive increase in crime and violence, so drug prohibition has created an illegal market said to be worth £350 billion per year. It has also financed civil war in Latin America for 25 years and is the principal source of finance for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are dying every day because of the illegal trade in opiates. Why don’t we just buy up the whole crop for the next 10 years? It would be much cheaper in both cash and lives than the Afghan war.
Virtually all experts agree that regulation would be a better solution. I have distilled the following five point plan from everything that I have read and learned over more than 30 years:
1. An end to oppression of drug users (at least 10 million UK citizens)
2. Removal from the criminal law of any offence for possession and/or social supply
3. Fact and evidence-based policy, information and regulation
4. Re-direction of law enforcement resources against real criminals
5. Treat problematic drug use as a health issue
Five years ago, while campaigning for the Tory party leadership, David Cameron called for “fresh thinking and a new approach” towards drugs policy and said that it would be “disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at”. Nick Clegg has promised to repeal “illiberal, intrusive and unnecessary” laws and to stop “making ordinary people criminals”. There can be no better example of this than the laws against personal use and cultivation of cannabis, particularly for medicinal reasons. The coalition government’s new Your Freedom website has been inundated with proposals to legalise cannabis and to end the futile war on drugs. In July a poll carried out for the LibDems showed 70% of people in favour of legalising cannabis.
The Home Office and James Brokenshire are completely out of touch with expert and public opinion as well as the declared views of both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.
In my view, regulation means tighter control on the most dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol and lighter regulation on relatively harmless substances like cannabis and ecstasy.
There is also the very important question of medicinal cannabis. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in 1998 has led to an ever-escalating volume of evidence of the medicinal value of cannabis. In June the MHRA approved Sativex as an MS medicine in the UK. It is a whole plant extract yet presently, the Home Office refuses to consider a regulated system of the plant itself for medicinal purposes. This is completely irrational and absurd. The House Of Lords scientific committee recommended such a system should be introduced 12 years ago. Medicinal cannabis is available and regulated throughout almost all of Europe, Israel and 14 states in the USA (with 12 more in the planning stage). The UK stands almost alone in its obstinate refusal even to consider such a system.
Already this is leading to quite obscene injustices where patients have been prescribed Sativex by their doctor but their health authority has refused to fund it and patients are then facing criminal prosecution for cultivating their own plants. There is a case of exactly this going on in the Dorchester Crown Court at present and the CPS insists it is in the public interest to prosecute!
Thank you once again for listening to me Richard. I hope these notes are useful in composing your letter to David Cameron and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Written by Peter Reynolds
September 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm
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