Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleSupplementary written evidence submitted by the Drug Equality Alliance [DP130a]



The Home Office’s current and historic administration of the Misuse of Drugs Act (“the Act”) is corrupted via the determination to participate in the global deceit that is the “war on drugs”. In preference to the sensible ethos parliamentarians enacted, namely tailoring different approaches to address the misuse of different drugs as used by different people for different reasons in different situations, the state utilised their powers to restrict access to “controlled drug” property to the extreme. This was to comply with the diktat of the US/UN drug control agenda, a non-incorporated mandate that effectively closed the door to evidence-based policy wherever it was implemented.1

The most extreme measure that the Act provided was the Designation Order. When generally applied they are entirely inconsistent with the objects of the Act. They suspend the Act’s regulatory apparatus, they are appropriate when it is in the public interest that all public property rights in a substance be extinguished, this because the dangers outweigh the benefits or undermine the possibility of effective regulation addressing persons misusing named drugs. Yet the way the law was administered and experienced was a denial of any agency to make choices with respect to hundreds of plants and chemicals. This is submitted to be at odds with the Act; parliament resolved to create a rational approach, a flexible and fluid law to work in concert with best possible advice via the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (“ACMD”).

Neutrality of administration, and neutrality as to how we approach the impasse is possible; the elusive solutions to the harms associated with drug misuse are submitted to be found within the existing legislation. We say the powers afforded to the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) are being misconstrued and inconsistent with the Act itself and the essential tenets of common law and fundamental rights.

The arbitrarily judgmental stigmatisation and interventions made against non-problematic “controlled drug” users2 continues worldwide.3 Yet a privileged status is extended to industries concerned with supplying the harmful drugs of the majority. Considering that the UK Act is neutral on its face, these are double-standards tantamount to an officially sanctioned protection racket. It would be a dereliction of duty for this inquiry to fail to examine our starting point; the legitimacy of the existing regime’s administration of primary law.

Even the ACMD won’t touch this prickly subject, they too misconstrue the law and tow the unwritten line, thus granting privileged status to the proponents of the most harmful forms of drug misuse extant in the UK (and worldwide). Beneficiaries of the “war on some people who use some drugs” policy utilise their drug–dealing profits to fund lobbyists. Against all the evidence they endeavour to keep some forms of harmful drug business outside the operation of the Act and maintaining the stranglehold over persons concerned with other drugs. Not only is the sale of drugs big business, so are the peripheral services that ensue from maintaining the control regime. We must ensure policy is transparent and without favour to what should be irrelevant considerations.

The inquiry to date—is it appropriate to have a policy inquiry pertaining to “legal and illegal” drugs?

The focus of this inquiry manifests principally as a concern with “controlled drugs”. Please bear in mind that the societal harms associated with the misuse of currently “controlled drugs”, whilst significant, is a tiny fraction of the harm caused by all drug abuse.4 The Act’s administrators focus on minorities, making a fetish about certain forms of drug use, yet no inequality of treatment is revealed in the Act. By not critiquing the Home Office’s predilection for “historic and cultural preferences”,5 the HASC risks turning a blind eye to the patent unfairness continuing unabated now.

The erroneous belief that the expression “illegal” or “illicit” drugs’6 is synonymous with “controlled drugs” preserves a false dichotomy that has skewed the administration of law (and this inquiry) considerably. We all know that the expression “illegal” or “illicit” drug means one which it is unlawful to possess, sell etc. Discussing the issue in these abstract terms masks the administrator’s error as a fair reflection of the Act. By wrongfully declaring a substance to be indivisibly illicit, society lost sight of the appropriate threshold for proportionate interference into private lives, ignoring actual outcomes completely. It’s better to think of “controlled drugs” not as drugs which are controlled (verb), but as a schedule of substances (noun) that we (in effect our minds and bodies) are controlled with respect to it.

Pointedly the use of drugs7 is not unlawful. Of course it is almost impossible to use a drug without possessing it, but that remains so because there are no general regulations concerning drug property being made to differentiate between the use and misuse of it. Parliament envisaged activities concerning drugs being open to consideration for licence (s31) or exception (s22), making reasonable differentiations based upon outcome, possibly with attendant conditions attached. Alcohol and tobacco could be designated as “controlled drugs” to create a level scale of assessment, without even affecting activities with them via such regulations. A recent decision8 of the Canadian Supreme Court determined that minsters must use what would otherwise be an unfettered discretion to make regulations that reduce the harms caused by drug misuse.


The SSHD arguably abandoned jurisdiction over the Act by thinking that nothing need be done about the widespread misuse of harmful “legal drugs”. The SSHD thinks she is controlling some chosen drugs with respect to all persons by declaring them illegal, when she is in fact supposed to be controlling some persons with respect to all harmful drugs, there is a key distinction.

A “separate but equal” state of affairs is unworthy of a diverse civilised society. Contrast defendants concerned with domestic cannabis cultivation for self-medication, with that of shopkeepers who repeatedly sell alcohol to underage persons—the latter never face imprisonment, but such cannabis users are regularly imprisoned here. Policy also appears overly influenced by business.9

Every adult human desires a better experience of existence of being, respect for peaceful dominion over the self and privacy of thought. This inquiry team is already aware of their own previous findings that most users of “controlled drugs” are non-problematic, this despite the trade being unwisely entirely non-regulated. Ending unnecessary intervention into private lives is not akin to giving the thumbs up for extensive experimentation with drugs. What counts is the information we disseminate, the reasonable regulations we implement. The benefits of making a stance in the UK would not be “nuanced”.10 the way we deal with this issue is a profound aspect of culture; we can be the world leaders in reason and tolerance.


1.Consider the Appendix to this submission that contains a list of pertinent questions concerning the Act.

2.Consider having a hiatus to this inquiry to examine the powers afforded to the SSHD under the Act, and possibly to take legal advice.

3.Instigate an inquiry into the role of lobbyists from vested interest businesses in the administration of the Act.

4.Recommend the setting up of a register of honourable members and the senior judiciary’s financial interests in all forms of drug commerce.

Drug Equality Alliance

September 2012

1 No international drug treaty or convention is binding upon parliament, the ACMD or the courts – such instruments only bear “ratified” status – they bind the executive whilst they choose to be so bound.

2 Peaceful persons representing a vast majority of “controlled drug” users (as per previous HASC inquiry).

3 In Malaysia they frequently viciously punish ordinary drug users with the rotan, and routinely hang convicts for possession of over 200g of herbal cannabis. Despite being an Islamic country, alcohol is widely available for non Moslems.

4 The question as to why the majority of persons engaged with drug misuse are claimed to remain outside the purview of the Act is of paramount importance. Where does it say that “legal drugs” exist or that omissions of this magnitude (to exercise the s2(5) powers under the Act) are within the discretion of the Minister?

5 The non bona fide parameter admitted by government to be amongst their criteria for administration of the Act in CM6941 and elsewhere.

6 We have stated this ad nauseam but it does require some adaptive thinking!

7 Except opium, s9.

8 Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44 – the CDSA is similar to the MDA, CDSA sections 55/56 equating to MDA sections 22, 31.

9 Curious cracks appear such as GW Pharmaceuticals being granted control over the production of what is essentially cannabis, whilst the government insist cannabis has no medical value and locks up home producers.

10 As Dr Alex Stevens described the benefits of the “Portuguese experiment” at Portcullis House, 10/09/12.

Prepared 8th December 2012