8 Conclusion |
107. In this case study, which forms part of our
broader inquiry into how the Government handles scientific advice,
risk and evidence, we examined the role that scientific advice
and evidence have played in the classification of illegal drugs.
The classification system purports to rank drugs on the basis
of harm associated with their misuse but we have found glaring
anomalies in the classification system as it stands and a wide
consensus that the current system is not fit for purpose. We were
also concerned and disappointed by the attitudes of the ACMD and
the police towards the classification system. In addition, we
identified a pressing need for greater transparency, both in terms
of the workings of the ACMD and the role that scientific evidence
plays in informing the Home Secretary's decisions about classification.
We have recommended that the Home Office put in place mechanisms
for independent oversight of the ACMD and suggest that the departmental
Chief Scientific Adviser is best placed to initiate this process.
108. The problems we have identified highlight the
fact that the promised review of the classification system is
much needed and we urge the Government to proceed with the consultation
with further delay. We have proposed that the Government should
develop a more scientifically based scale of harm, decoupled from
penalties for possession and trafficking. In addition, we have
argued that there is an urgent need for greater investment in
research to underpin policy development in this area. We conclude
that, in respect of this case study, the Government has largely
failed to meet its commitment to evidence based policy making.