Austerity, foreign policy, membership of the European Union and immigration. These are all hot topics for debate in the run up to the general election. But May the 7th will be a defining moment for Britain in another way, too: the country looks set to host a Parliament that is radically different in appearance in comparison to any previous time in its history. The traditional Conservative/Labour monopoly on political power is nearing its end; the meteoric emergence of new, energetic parties have promised us all a vision of a better and socially just Britain. Politics is being shaken up. The electorate are demanding change. But have politicians finally started playing catch up with public opinion on failing British drug policy?
The last 5 years of Conservative rule has also coincided with huge advances in the liberalisation of drug policy across the globe; Uruguay has recently established a regulated market for Cannabis, various U.S states have themselves moved to end the criminalisation of Cannabis users contrary to federal legislation. Global campaigns to raise awareness about the terrible consequences of drug prohibition have gained unprecedented levels of publicity, and, unthinkable just a decade ago, many U.K political parties are now calling for serious reform to the status quo. Even some within the backbenches of the ruling party have called for a review of the current approach to drugs.
Whilst economic and foreign policy are also incredibly important areas of consideration when deciding who we should vote for, we must also demand proper leadership on the topic of drug policy from our leaders – an issue that has huge consequences on the socio-economic health of communities across Britain.
As a keen spectator of the ongoing political campaigns leading up to the general elections on the 7th of May, I observe that it can sometimes be difficult to discern the stance of politicians on various issues, especially in the midst of all the noise about the many hundreds of problems facing our country that require addressing. The recurring habit of politicians to take policy positions that seem to be contrary to comments made in years (sometimes months, or weeks) past also doesn’t help. That’s why at LEAP UK, we set about developing an interactive website that establishes clearly the positions of all the major political parties on drug policy at a glance, and what they plan on doing when they come to power (or how they intend on influencing policy while in Parliament), so you know exactly what you are getting when you visit the ballot box.
Visit the May 2015 drug policy tracker here. We encourage you to share this page with colleagues, friends and family!