Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Alastair Crawford (DP 087)

My name is Alastair Crawford, I am a 21 year old currently studying History and Political theory at the University of Strathclyde, and a member of CLEAR (the Cannabis Law Reform group). I am taking this opportunity to respond to the call for written evidence with regards to the Home Affairs Committee’s drug enquiry. Not only am I member of CLEAR but I have also worked as an intern for Guy Opperman MP.

I feel that, as stated in the Report of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy’s report of June 2011 states:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US govornment’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

I am sure you are familiar with the Report of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy’s report of June 2011 so I will not quote it back to you, however I will provide you with the aims and objectives of CLEAR below:

1. To end the prohibition of cannabis

Prohibition is a big, dumb, and very expensive failure. It is brutal. It puts prejudice before people. The “war on drugs” is responsible for more death, destruction and despair than any other war. History has shown that prohibition creates far more problems than it solves. In the 21st century we should expect far better solutions from our policy makers and governments.

2. To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors

No reasonable human being can deny another relief from pain, suffering or disability. There is no rational argument against permitting access to medicinal cannabis for those who need it. The fact that the British government and the deeply rooted bureaucracy of the Home Office stand in the way is a deep and lasting shame on our nation.

3. To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence

Authoritative research from the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit proves that a cannabis tax and regulate regime in Britain would produce a boost to the UK economy of at least £6 billion per annum. That’s based on a cannabis tax of £1 per gram, massive savings in law enforcement costs but allowing for the cost of administering the system and providing additional healthcare and education services. All the evidence and experts agree that a responsibly regulated system would also reduce all health and social harms.

4. To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp

The prohibition of cannabis has caused huge damage to our society, environment and economy by preventing the cultivation of hemp. Although the industrial strains of the plant have no psychoactive potential, the absurd level of control has effectively destroyed its value as an agricultural crop. With that we have lost the most efficient producer of biomass in the natural world, the strongest natural fibre, a better fabric than cotton, a better paper than wood and one of the most ecologically important activities on the planet.

5. To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis

Prejudice is based on ignorance. In the case of cannabis there is also deliberate misinformation. It started with Randolph Hearst, the media, timber and oil magnate of the 1930s and it continues today with the vested interests of alcohol, tobacco, Big Pharma and, yes, media, timber and oil. The truth about cannabis is clear and we have to spread the truth in the face of ignorance and lies.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012