Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Candice Amson (DP027)

1. I am writing regarding your call for written evidence regarding the success of previous drug policy. My name is Candice, I am a married mother of four children. A Gardener by trade, but also a Carer, as two of my children have special needs. I am a passionate believer in drug law reform, in particular cannabis, and campaign as such.

2. Is present policy fiscally responsible?

I believe not? Decades of prohibition have utterly failed to stem the flow of drugs. Billions spent on policing and prosecuting people for using substances far less harmful than the legal drug alcohol. The system is completely flawed. You can never stop something by banning it. All the control is lost. A £6.7 billion industry gifted to criminals (re: Independent Drug Monitoring Unit (IDMU) report of 2011).

3. Is policy grounded in science, health, security and human rights?

In my opinion, no way! There is much scientific evidence which shows that many illegal drugs are much, much less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs. All of which are legal. (NHS “A summary of the health harms of drugs”). Where is the sense in this? Prohibition is far more harmful to the drug user than the drug itself. The problem should be tackled by regulation and medical support where appropriate. There is nothing more shocking than the prohibition of cannabis which is the finest natural medicine known to mankind for over 5,000 years. Millions of harmless medicinal users are condemned to be criminals for using a simple and much maligned plant. Cannabis is well known as a cure for cancer. But the pharmaceutical companies don’t want people to get better, that won’t make them money.

4. The independence and quality of expert advice which is being given to the government?

Successive governments have received expert advice and have ignored it. Professor Nutt was sacked for expert opinion. Just recently when Professor Les Iversen of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) advised that drugs should be decriminalised, the government immediately said it would be ignoring his advice.

5. Whether drug-related policing and expenditure is likely to decrease in line with police budgets and what impact this may have?

According to the IDMU report Taxing the UK Cannabis Market; £500 million is spent every year on the criminal justice system for cannabis alone, of which £200 million is for police costs. This is absurd waste of money and resources on a system which has clearly failed, and would be much better spent on rehabilitation and healthcare.

6. The cost effectiveness of different policies to reduce drug usage

The above IDMU report also showed that when cannabis was reclassified to “C” consumption decreased, and when reclassified to “B” consumption rose again. The more a drug is prohibited, the more desirable it becomes. Once again current policy is failing!

7. The relationship between drug and alcohol abuse

Alcohol and tobacco are the worst of all drugs which kill billions worldwide. Alcohol is the most addictive and dangerous, most serious public health issue of our day. If the authorities allow unfettered widespread alcohol use, why would those users think twice about using other drugs which they know are less harmful. It is my opinion that alcohol is the biggest gateway drug. Whereas, cannabis can be used as a safe, effective, and non toxic treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction.

8. The comparative harm and cost of legal and illegal drugs

Why are the worst drugs of all, alcohol and tobacco not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971? They are clearly more harmful than many illegal drugs in particular cannabis, which is non toxic and impossible to overdose on.

9. The links between drugs, organised crime and terrorism

The government’s drug policy funds organised crime worldwide. Here in Britain just the cannabis industry is estimated to be worth around £6.7 billion. This is an industry simply abandoned to be run by criminals, often using human trafficked labour, to produce a poor quality product. Just think that with decriminalisation, for instance, prostitution would be largely wiped out.

10. Whether detailed consideration ought to be given to alternative ways of tackling the drugs dilemma, as recommended by the Select Committee in 2002 (The Government’s Drugs Policy: Is It Working?, HC 318, 2001–02) and the Justice Committee’s 2010 Report on justice reinvestment (Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment, HC 94, 2009–10).”

In my opinion the whole of the drugs industry should be brought under control with legalisation. Money should be put into education, prevention and rehabilitative care instead of criminalisation

11. Summary

1.I am a passionate believer in drug laws reform.

2.Billions are spent on policing, and prosecuting people for using substances far less harmful than alcohol.

3.When there is much scientific evidence which shows that many illegal drugs are much, much less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs.

4.Successive governments have received expert advice and have ignored it.

5.£500 million is spent every year on the criminal justice system for cannabis alone, of which £200 million is for police costs.

6.The more a drug is prohibited, the more desirable it becomes.

7.Alcohol is the most addictive and dangerous, most serious public health issue of our day.

8.Why are alcohol and tobacco not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971?

9.The government’s drug policy funds organised crime worldwide.

10.In my opinion the whole of the drugs industry should be brought under control with legalisation.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012