How COSPA & Transform Can Help Win the War...On the War on Drugs

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How COSPA & Transform Can Help Win the War...On the War on Drugs by Mind Map: How COSPA & Transform Can Help Win the War...On the War on Drugs

1. 1. The UK's War On Drugs - A Summary

1.1. Like the US - it's simply not working....

1.2. Crime

1.2.1. "...drug users are responsible for 56% of all crimes, including "85% of shoplifting, 70-80% of burglaries, [and] 54% of robberies." Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Drugs Report, 2003

1.2.2. The UK Home Office estimated that 80-95% of street sex work is drug motivated

1.3. Drug Popularity

1.3.1. "Over the past 10-15 years, despite interventions at every point in the supply chain, cocaine and heroin consumption have been rising, prices falling and drugs have continued to reach users. Government interventions against the drug business are a cost of doing business, rather than a substantive threat to the industry's viability" Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Drugs Report, 2003 The 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), shows an estimated 1 in 3 adults (around 12m people) have tried an illegal drug in their lifetime. Cannabis remains the most popular drug with 2.3m users taking it in the past year. Powder cocaine and ecstasy were second and third most prevalent drug with 0.7m and 0.5m users respectively Amongst school age population, the type of drug use is changing and cannnibis use is waning The European Schools Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) survey provides data for students aged 15–16 every four years. In England, based on the school survey, lifetime prevalence of any drug among 11–15-year olds was 22.1% in 2007 ESPAD data showed that lifetime use of cannabis decreased from 41% in 1995 to 35% in 1999, rose again to 38% in 2003 and decreased to 29% in 2007 Last year prevalence of cannabis use was reported by 22% of students in 2007, compared to 31% in 2003 and 35% in 1995. The same trend was followed, regarding the last month prevalence of cannabis, reported by 11% in 2007, when figures were higher during the previous years: 20% in 2003 and 24% in 1995 In England and Wales, the 2009/10 BCS, conducted among people aged 16–59, showed that 36.4% of respondents had tried any illegal drug at least once in their lives (lifetime prevalence rates) – so 1 in 3 people in the England and Wales have at some point tried an illegal drug. Lifetime prevalence of cannabis was 30.6%; amphetamines, 11.7%; cocaine, 8.8 %; ecstasy, 8.3%; and LSD, 5.3%

1.4. Health Impacts

1.4.1. Of course drug use is risky, but drug use is also a reality – we need to find approaches that minimise the harms associated with it and it’s clear from the last 50 years that a punitive war on drugs approach doesn’t work and actually makes things worse

1.4.2. Around half of those in the UK who inject drugs have been infected with hepatitis C and one-sixth with hepatitis B

1.5. Punishment

1.5.1. The UK has a relatively punitive approach to drug sentencing compared to European neighbours. Over 100,000 were found guilty of a drug offence, Almost 10,000 people were imprisoned for drug offences in 2011. 40% of prosecutions are for possession – and over 1000 were imprisoned for possession

1.5.2. Of the 43,406 convicted of possession, 12,076 were under the age of 21 - nearly 30% of all convictions for possession

1.5.3. The UK is not decriminalising cannabis – caution and conviction rates are the same now as in 2003. Almost 80,000 received a caution or conviction which results in a criminal record . The extra 80,000 cannabis warnings and 15,000 PNDs (Penalty Notice for Disorder) a year are just that - extra, they have not diverted any numbers away from the Criminal Justice System

1.5.4. Enforcing the drug laws across the criminal justice system costs 3-4 billion a year – a huge expense for poor outcomes – especially at a time of national austerity

1.5.5. It's not unreasonable to deduce that levels of enforcement are pretty irrelevant to levels of use (but can dramatically impact on harm associated with use)

1.5.6. Since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act was passed, the nature of drug use in the UK has changed radically. The Act was not designed to deal with such high levels of use nor the rapid development of new drugs

2. 2. The Tide is Turning

2.1. The world is beginning to look for alternatives to prohibition...

2.2. Public Opinion

2.2.1. In June 2011, a YouGov survey asked: "In your opinion, how effective, if at all, is the current government's approach to illegal drugs?" Only 11% thought that it was very or fairly effective, with 53% stating it to be ineffective

2.3. Progress is happening in other countries... and it's working

2.3.1. Portugal By 1998 approximately 60% of arrests for drug offences in Portugal were for possession and use. They consequently had overcrowded jails - which was one of the major drivers for decriminalisation. They also had a large number of addicts who weren't seeking medical treatment Possession decriminalised on July 1st 2001 No consequences for purchase, possession and personal use of drugs within a 10 day supply Decriminalisation was part of broader re-orientation towards a public health approach Trends in use since 2001 have been in line with European neighbours – no suggestion of a surge in use There have been drops in drug usage amongst key groups – school age and problematic users Additionally – a decreased burden on the criminal justice system, decreased HIV transmission amongst injectors, increased access to treatment. Concern was that EU citizens would flock to Portugal to take drugs - it didn't happen. 95% of those cited for drug misdemeanors since 2001 have been Portuguese Deaths have fallen from nearly 400 related fatalities in 1999 to 290 in 2006 HIV infection rates are down overall and notably drug users count for only 20% of Portugal's HIV cases as opposed to 56% in 2001 Since the early 90's "problematic" drug users in the country have been reduced by 50% In 1999 6040 people were in drug treatment, by 2003 14,877 were - this equates to a 147% increase

2.3.2. Uruguay Uruguay are soon to launch a state run monopoly in the cultivation and sale of Cannabis

2.3.3. Spain Spanish cannabis clubs - now more than 700 in existence, these take advantage of the two-plant allowance for personal use granted under Spain's decriminalisation policy. The pooled allowances of club members are collectively grown by the club organisers and then used to supply the club venues which sell the cannabis to members at around half the price charged by the criminal market. The clubs operate on a not-for-profit basis.

2.4. Public figures are speaking out

2.4.1. Barack Obama, President of the USA "I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the [drug] laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places" Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, April 2012

2.4.2. Richard Branson, Entrepreneur "The war on drugs has failed to cut drug usage, but has filled our jails, cost millions in tax payer dollars, fuelled organized crime and caused thousands of deaths. We need a new approach, one that takes the power out of the hands of organized crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals" Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom

2.4.3. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia "I don't object to discussing any alternatives. But if we are going to discuss alternatives, let's discuss every alternative...let's discuss what alternatives do we have - what is the cost, what is the benefit of each?" Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, December 2010

2.4.4. Antonio Maria Costa, Economist and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008 "The first unintended consequence [of the drug control system] is a huge criminal black market that now thrives in order to get prohibited substances from producers to consumers. Whether driven by a 'supply push' or a 'demand pull', the financial incentives to enter this [illicit drug] market are enormous. There is no shortage of criminals competing to claw out a share of a market in which hundred fold increases in price from production to retail are not uncommon" Antonio Maria Costa, Economist and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008

2.4.5. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 34th President of Brazil "The 'war on drugs' strategy did not have a significant impact on its goals to increase the street price of drugs and to reduce consumption. Instead...prohibition created economic incentives for traffickers to emerge and prosper..." Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 34th President of Brazil, 2010

2.4.6. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur "The current international system of drug control has focused on creating a drug free world, almost exclusively through use of law enforcement policies and criminal sanctions. Mounting evidence, however, suggests this approach has failed...While drugs may have a pernicious effect on individual lives and society, this excessively punitive regime has not achieved its stated public health goals, and has resulted in countless human rights violations" Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur

3. 3. Where Should COSPA Sit?

3.1. Should COSPA Take a Position on What to Push For?

3.2. The dangers around conflating arguments

3.2.1. Decriminalisation is not the same as legalisation It's important to be clear what is meant by decriminalisation: it is specifically the removal of criminal sanctions, rather than making the act lawful - as widely understood and implemented civil/administrative sanctions such as fines (or if appropraite a treatment referal) can remain. Crucially though users no longer receive a criminal record Decriminlisation of this kind has pretty widespread suport, not only from governments that have gone down this road already, but with a range of authoritative bodies in the UN, the Red Cross, and many others, as well as domestically the goverment's own Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), and many of the leading drug agencies and service providers. This reform can be implemented within the current international legal framework (unlike legalisation/regulation options) It's worth noting that decriminalisation has no impact on the supply side harms of prohibition Decriminalisation is already a policy of the UK Liberal Party

3.2.2. Public opinion on changing the law varies hugely according to the drug

3.3. What is radical vs moderate? (double click image)

3.3.1. The reform position is based on the proposition that both of these options are associated with unacceptably high social and health costs. But between these poles exists a range of options for legally regulating different aspects of the market. Regulation can legitimately claim to be the pragmatic centre ground position – it is absolutely the norm for almost all other forms of social and health policy. Prohibition is the radical policy, not regulation Decriminalisation is an even smaller baby step away from Prohibition

3.4. There is clearly a need to galvanise opinion and present a unified rational voice as well as strategically put pressure on policy makers - this is where COSPA can really make an impact

3.5. COSPA should ultimately respond to the needs of it's members -but should make the case that political reform on this issue often comes in small steps, rarely in giant leaps and that we should look to help build on the work of others and generate momentum through large scale civic engagement. Decriminalise first then push for more radical reforms later

4. 4. Where COSPA Can Help

4.1. Do What it Does Best - Mobilise a Community For a Distinct Challenge...

4.2. Grow a community in conjunction with Transform to take further action

4.2.1. Pull in existing users from our existing communities including the 600,000 who signed the petition for the Global Commission on Drugs

4.2.2. Build on existing communities Currently there are number of organisations with active web communities. We need to be sensitive though about pulling traffic away from these sites

4.2.3. Pull in new members Build a great new web-community Simple call to action Great sharing facilities Viral content Build a true community Direct outreach to the blogosphere Use tools like to find mavens

4.3. Help the drugs reform lobby decisively win the first battle in war

4.3.1. The decriminalisation of the possession of narcotics - get this enshrined in law Use the community to get the first of many legal wins Take a private members bill through to law Can build on the upcoming BMA and the Home Affairs Select committee reports, both of which are likely to make positive noises about decriminalisation Isn't this too small a goal? It's true Avaaz itself and others have gone further as have the recent US elections. However we need to galvanise an electorate and a community. There's no better way to build momentum than and win - and lets not forget, it would be a historic win. One that could hopefully pave the way for other bigger steps such as a legal cannabis market regulation model.

5. 5. The Five Steps To Changing Policy

5.1. Making A Decriminalisation Bill Into a Decriminalisation Law...

5.2. This is always going to be a controversial issue. So lets look back to and echo how other controversial legislation was passed. In particular the Sexual Offences Act and the Abortion bill - both passed in 1967 via the backdoor (a private Members Bill) thus in many ways keeping the government's hands clean. There are experts in doing just this who we can employ

5.3. We need to take baby steps, lets get a win under our belt to galvanise the community - nothing does this like success.

5.3.1. Step 1: Demonstrate public opinion Build a new online community Start collecting members around the cause. Start the discussion Don't petition just yet

5.3.2. Step 2: Identify key public sector lobbying targets Home Office This will be the difficult one. However there is a report coming out from their select committee which should help us. The key will be getting to the senior cvil servants and ensuring we're not going to get any major blockages Little point in lobbying ministers till the last minute as there will probably be a reshuffle between now and then Dept of Health Treasury More useful by proxy. Osbourne is not well liked amongst his fellow cabinet but they do need his support and respect. He's pro reform here so we may be able to get him personally to weigh in on particularly difficult ministers/civil servants in other departments Number 10 Cameron is much less likely to throw his weight around on this one, but may be persuaded to speak openly and positively about a new bill...maybe

5.3.3. Step 3: Enlist an MP to sponsor the bill When the Private Members Bill Ballot is carried out late next year we should aim to secure a sympathetic and well connected MP who's ranked 1-7 in time order to ensure we have the time to take it through. If possible we'd like a Tory We'd then work with them and other partner orgs to pull together the bill. We'd also try and make as much of it open to the community as possible so they can have their input

5.3.4. Step 4: Bring the media into line The main problem is the Daily Mail. The Red Tops are coming into line on this as it refelcts their readerships' views We'll keep the Mail in check in two ways...

5.3.5. Step 5: Lobby the relevant MPs To get this though we'll need broad support or at least precious few objections. The All Party Parliamentary Group will list those interested in this space and some members will list it as an interest, but crucially we need to know who might cause problems and where their vulnerabilities lie - how marginal is their seat, if we mobilised the vote visibly enough in their constituency, could we unseat them over a single issue? What else do they want from the Whips? Can we use this? We should use our community in a targeted way - petition a select number of key MPs and overwhelm their inboxes. There's many a devious way to ensure laws like this pass - the master of it is a chap called Ron Bailey who has passed more Private Members Bills than anyone else in history. He should be our first call

6. 6. Partners

6.1. Work with the existing community, COSPA doesn't have all the answers...

6.2. Organisations

6.2.1. Transform Drug Policy Foundation- Release - UKDPC (UK drug policy commission) - Al Party group on drug policy refrom - Intenational Drug Policy Consortium - Global Commission on Drugs -

6.3. Initial Funding Ideas

6.3.1. GMTs Open Society Foundations - Esmee Fairbairn Foundation - The Allen Lane Foundation - The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust - The Linnet Trust - Also look at

6.3.2. Corporates The Virgin Group Would need to conduct research into other companies' previous giving and directors' interests

6.3.3. Major Gifts Pull together a list of top tech based philanthropists. This can be obtained via the DSC or through personal contacts

6.3.4. EU/Gov V. unlikely to get UK gov money for this

7. Bibliography & Thanks

7.1. Bibliography and Thanks A huge thank you to all those that dropped what they were doing, with zero notice, to pull this report together and to answer stupid questions from me. In particular Alex, Ryan, Verity and Steve – thanks guys! 'The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003' 'United States War On Drugs: Addicted to a Political Strategy of No End' 'The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States' UNODC ARC data Independent Drug Monitoring Unit Drug Sense UK Drug Policy Commission Release International Drug Policy Consortium Global Commission on Drugs Drugscope 'The recent evolution of UK drug strategies: from maintenance to behaviour change?' Monaghan, M. (Leeds 2012) 'Heroin addicts cost society £850,000 each, police warn,' The Telegraph (02 Nov 2011) 'The Alternative World Drug Report: counting the costs of the war on drugs,' Count the Costs (26 June 2012) 'The Costs of Drug Laws: £16 billion' 'Charity says illegal drug users cost taxpayers £16bn last year...' The Daily Mail 'A Fresh Approach To Drugs,' UKDPC (Oct. 2012) 'After the War on Drugs: Tools for the Debate' 'After the War on Drugs: Options for Control,' Transform, (12 Oct. 2004) 'After the War On Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation,' Transform, (Nov. 2009) 'Britain's drug policies could be wasting billions,' Runicman, R., (15 Oct 2012)