For anyone living in the UK, it is impossible not to have noticed that the terms of the drug policy reform debate have shifted considerably in recent months. After years of reticence from governments of both major parties, the UK home secretary has finally bowed to public pressure and announced that from today, 1st November 2018, medical cannabis will be rescheduled to Schedule 2, making it available on prescription. Medical bodies including the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have come out in favour of decriminalising or legalising drugs in one form or another. Where once upon a time the very thought of supporting drug law reform would have been a vote killer and a career killer for any politician, many including Jeff Smith MP (Lab.), Crispin Blunt MP (Con.) and Ronnie Cowan MP (SNP) are now openly and very publicly calling for a compete overhaul of our current drug laws, to be replaced with legal regulation for all drugs.
It is in this climate that law enforcement has found it’s voice. Not so long ago it would have been unthinkable for a police officer to suggest there was any possible alternative to the crime and punishment response of arresting anyone remotely connected with using drugs or selling drugs. Now both Durham and Avon & Somerset Police forces operate diversion schemes offering education instead of criminal records. Police and Crime Commissioners Arfon Jones, David Jamieson and Ron Hogg are among those who have been vocal in calling for reform of how the police respond to drugs. The Police Federation at their annual conference in June 2018 noted that 100 years of prohibition had failed to check the proliferation of drugs or drug related violence in the UK and called for “a public debate on the future of drugs legislation“.
Here at LEAP UK, our ranks are swelling fast. We hear from new police, military and criminal justice figures every week who tell us that they feel their own personal fight in the ‘war on drugs’ has been in vain. They have wasted years, often at the expense of physical and mental health, trying to achieve the unachievable. They tell us it is time to try something else. It is time for change. It is time to legalise and regulate.
To celebrate our membership and to put a spotlight on each one of them for their unique, individual brilliance, we are going to post a new quotation from a LEAP UK member across our social media channels every Thursday. You can follow along by searching the hashtag #ReformThursday on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or checking back when we update this post every week!
#ReformThursday no. 1
(posted 1 Nov, 2018)
“For decades I was an active participant in the ‘War On Drugs’. Wasted years, wasted time, wasted money. I passionately believe in the need for drug law reform.”
former Metropolitan Police officer and founder member of Scotland Yard’s undercover SO10 unit
#ReformThursday no. 2
(posted 8 Nov, 2018)
“As a result of my work as a Covert Police Officer, I have personally witnessed tens of millions of pounds of drugs money being smuggled out of this country and law enforcement are powerless to stop it.”
former New Scotland Yard Detective