Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

My MP, Richard Drax, To Write To David Cameron On Drugs Policy

with 21 comments

The Honourable Member For Dorset South

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.

******

Dear Richard,

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.

References here:

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/killer-cop-harwood-must-be-charged/

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/keir-starmer-the-next-lord-widgery/

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:

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/?s=drugs

I would also refer you to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation which has highly detailed and almost universally acclaimed proposals for drug regulation:

http://www.tdpf.org.uk

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.

Kind regards,

Peter Reynolds

About these ads

21 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Damn fine Email Peter.

    Id write to my MP but shes useless and completely agree with the governments decisions on drugs hence why i know live one corner away from a alcohol and drug infested street that is totally out of control…

    John Ellis

    September 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    • Write to her and tell her exactly what you think!

      You should do! Of course you should moderate your language and be polite but you can still be direct. You are very eloquent and your passion comes through in your words.

      Tell me who she is. Do you have a website for her?

      Peter Reynolds

      September 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      • Dear Peter
        I hope you dont mind if I use your email as a template to my MP.

        I have emailed them previously telling them I would like to discuss the medical cannabis issue with them, but I did not want to give them my address in case Law Enforcement got involved. They have promised not to send my details to the police so wish me luck !

        yours Rory

        Rory

        January 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      • Please go ahead Rory and let me know what happens!

        Peter Reynolds

        January 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  2. here she is.
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/angela_eagle/wallasey

    Angela Eagle.

    I asked her to sign the early day motion on science for drug policey. Nice letter back saying how she felt the move to class B would not create street crime.. 3 months later 300 yards from our home my son was mugged at knifepoint. the first of 8 such offences all to provide money for cannabis…..

    John Ellis

    September 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  3. WHAT??

    She’s “Britain’s only out and proud lesbian MP” and you’re telling me she’s got a closed mind on the drugs issue?

    If it doesn’t sound vaguely obscene, she’s a door waiting to be pushed open. Give me a couple of days…

    Peter Reynolds

    September 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm

  4. K will do Peter the fact that she is open about her sexuality was what really peeved me about her closed minded attitude to drugs and the harm they are causing in communities within her constituency.

    But then you look at how she has voted on other issues and you wonder if she has her own mind or if she is a career politician who keeps her place through towing the party line.

    John Ellis

    September 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

  5. Just to correct you on one point Peter, just I feel accuracy is pretty important when it comes to these things.

    The poll showing 70% in favour for the regulation of cannabis was Commissioned by Lib Dems for Drug Policy Reform, not the lib dems themself.

    Also it wasn’t 70% of people in favour of legalisation. There wasnt an option for legalisation.

    33% were in favour of light regulation(the same way in which alcohol is currently regulated) and 37% for Strict state control and regulation(licensed pharmacy sales, no advertising allowed).

    They combined these percentages to total 70% in favour of regulating cannabis.

    Apart from that its a brilliant letter, I really do hope you get a decent reply, although it would probably be a first.

    Jake Adams

    September 1, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    • I confess I knew what I was doing in phrasing it as I did. I was aware of the precise terms as you correctly describe them. Do you think I went too far? I thought I was within the bounds of reasonable reporting and summary.

      Peter Reynolds

      September 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm

  6. I just personally think closed minded people tend to fear the word ‘legalisation’ much more than ‘regulation’. They see it as being a free for all, conjuring up images of children purchasing drugs being sold next to the fruit and veg in supermarkets.

    In fact this is one of the reasons the poll was so successful as it wasnt simply a black and white, prohibition/legalisation poll like ones before it.

    I cant see it doing any harm using this term here, especially if this MP if pretty openminded when it comes to the drugs issue. If he wasnt however it might have been a problem.

    I just thought id mention it incase it wasn’t deliberate.

    It might be a good idea to use the correct term in the future though, depending upon your audience.

    Jake Adams

    September 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm

  7. WoW Jake you have just described the street around the corner… so much for fear of what will happen under legal supply. I think the problem lies there in. Trying to sell Chaos to the public :)
    News can never ever feature people like me who have smoked the herb for many years (medicaly inplace of AD’s) but also run successful communities (well apart from the MODA problems).

    The CSO’s at tonights community meeting almost fell of their chairs when I announced that the was no cannabis in the area just heroin cocaine pill powders of dubious legality. but no weed, “and how do I know this….Im a drug user!”

    funny old world aint it :)

    John Ellis

    September 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm

  8. I agree with you entirely. In fact, I said exactly the same thing to my MP today, that regulation is a better, more accurate and less frightening word than legalisation. I confess, when I used it in the email to him I was prbably going too far!

    Peter Reynolds

    September 1, 2010 at 11:32 pm

  9. [...] My MP, Richard Drax, To Write To David Cameron On Drugs Policy « Peter Reynolds [...]

  10. I have expressed some of my own views re Gary McKinnon here -

    http://tinyurl.com/37sx475

    P.S. I see David Blunkett, who signed the controversial Extradition Act into being, is now having second thoughts about the ‘fairness’ of its terms !

    duncanr

    September 3, 2010 at 5:15 am

  11. Excellent letter Peter.

    You said: “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.”

    I was convicted and sentenced in exactly those circumstances.

    Ordinary pharmaceuticals do not work well for my condition, which makes absorption very poor. So I was promised Sativex by my medical team, but denied funding. To gain relief, I had no choice but to grow my own cannabis. Due to a fire at a neighbour’s property, the police evacuated the block and found my plants.

    I plead ‘not guilty’ all the way: how dare the government presume that alcohol and tobacco users are exempt from the law. How dare they pretend the Misuse of Drugs Act is a mandate for prohibition. How dare successive governments refuse to understand and abide by its own statutes. The result of this official ignorance is an abuse of power, and an arbitrary drugs regime. An illegal war on some people who use some drugs.

    This cannot continue. Prisons and death rows around the world are populated with people who are there fore identical activities carried out routinely by their jailers – but with the wrong *political choice* of drug. (The World Health Organisation questions whether this can even be lawful.) ‘Separate’ administrations for people using equally harmful drugs? What is this but a form of apartheid?

    Therefore, I demand the same freedoms granted to alcohol and tobacco users, and I shall not rest until we achieve equal rights, equal freedoms and equal protections for ALL drug users.

    http://www.drugequality.org

    Edwin Stratton

    September 6, 2010 at 12:43 am

  12. Okay can you please explain to me the ‘dangerous’ term you refer to in regarding heroin?

    All the evidence suggets that heroin is completely beingn to the physical body than even say sugar or paracetomol…

    The facts arethat heroin is yes addictive but if a user has a constant supply then there are no damaging side effects apart from constipation…

    Yes you could say that addiction is damaging but how more so when someone wakes up and has there first hit of caffiene of the day… addicitive yes but not necessary incompatible with a full and productive life.

    If we are tralking about ‘fact based evidence’ then surely heroin should be regarded accordingly or are we to just fall to stereotypes which have been at the centre of heroins demonization for the last 50 years?

    But anyway I do agree that prohibition can be very damaging and short sited in many regards especially with chronic users..

    Dan

    Dan

    October 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    • Thanks for your comment Dan. I fully understand your point and that “maintenance” is a viable option – under a properly regulated, reliable system.

      Heroin is dangerous because you can kill yourself with it if you make a mistake, misunderstand, underestimate or maybe even just get depressed. Even under a properly regulated, reliable system, Heroin must be more tightly regulated than, for instance, caffeine, cannabis and MDMA, exactly because it is more dangerous.

      Peter Reynolds

      October 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  13. It depends what you mean by regulated? personally i see the switzeralnd and the riott based trials in London as a bit of a halfway house.. Sure its great that heroin addicts are taken away from the hands of a dealer but many opiate addicts want to have a normal ambitous life and travelling to a clinic twice a day is too interuptive to live a succesfull and prosperous life…

    On the topic of overdose clearly thats a risk however most OD’s happen when people buy off the street and have no idea what amount of heroin their ‘wrap’ contains combining this with a lack of resources which means poeple are constantly upping and lowering their tolernace almost daily. Heroin isnt actually that dangerous in terms of overdose in fact evidence suggets that users can take over five times their usual amount and still be okay obviously combining this with a Benzodiazepam or alchol is a different story.

    I do agree that regualtion would be needed of some sort and that anyone of an opiate naive state should be clearly told how much they should take and what would induce an overdose which is never ever going to happen on the street..

    Anyway this is just dreaming really but i just wanted to add that although I dont take cannabis in any form I’m certainly pro decriminaztaion of it partly just for the factor that this would erradicate this ‘super Scunk’ that is on the avaiable in this country…At school high grade scunk was available at every turn and pretty much every kid who wanted to buy some would have absoutely no problem aquiring this drug within a maximum of a day or so…

    For this super strength strain of MJ to be availabe at such a young age is a real issue I beleive and it demonstrates how dangerous it can be to deny people something that if they belive thats what they want then it will be made avialble but at a worst cost by crinimals.

    Dan

    October 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  14. Oh By the way Thanks for the reply – have a nice night,

    Dan

    Dan

    October 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 104 other followers

%d bloggers like this: