Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Pheon Management Services (DP094)

Former Assistant Chief Investigation Officer, HM Customs & Excise National Investigation Service.
Member International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy.

Main Points

1. Drug use, legal or illegal, and consequent TOTAL HARM, is driven by national and local culture.

2. The drugs using culture is affected, for better or worse, by external factors, particularly the actions of and signals given out by, government and media.

3. Internationally and domestically there is a very well financed, well orchestrated planned campaign, to normalise and legalise currently illegal drugs and to undermine the UN Conventions. A prime (but not the only) financier, is George Soros.

4. The “Global Commission on Drug Policy” to which the HASC alludes in publicity for this review, is but the latest iteration of the SOROS financed movement. The “Global Commission” scheme, was outlined in a plan by disgraced UK Deputy Drug Czar Mike Trace, many years ago.

5. The UN Drugs Conventions, the best kept international agreements of all time, create a “SHARED RESPONSIBILITY” upon States, not to undermine the efforts of other States in dealing with threats to society and the rights of the child.

6. Countries should not individually take “freedoms” to implement policies at significant variance from each other over what are common public health threats that cross political/geographical boundaries.

7. Damaging drugs use, legal or illegal is best thought of as “an infectious disease of society”. If one country allows the infection to proceed apace, other countries are also affected. The Committee should think very carefully indeed before seeking to undermine the commitment of the current (and the previous government-expressed to the HASC earlier) to keeping those UN conventions unchanged.

8. The HASC should not propose any action which threatens the integrity of the UK response to those drug conventions or to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Gen Assembly 44 of 25 November 1989 Article 33:

“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

The Writer

9. David Raynes spent 36 years in UK public service. He retired as Assistant Chief Investigation Officer in HM Customs & Excise responsible for investigations in Wales and the West Country. He also served in The Cabinet Office Efficiency Unit and in the Northern Ireland Office. Much of his investigation career was spent detecting and investigating drugs trafficking and other major crime and fraud. Earlier in his career he was the first intelligence Officer in any UK organisation, dedicated to heroin and cocaine. He served in the heroin source countries of Thailand and Pakistan

Since retiring from HM Customs he has operated internationally, in Eastern Europe (EU accession countries) and sub-Saharan Africa, as a self employed consultant specialising in anti-corruption work, organised crime, Customs improvement and Customs senior management training. He worked for a European commission study as Customs consultant on drug pre-cursors used to make amphetamine type substances. He has operated as a corporate fraud investigator within the UK.

As a volunteer, unpaid, he has since 2001, been a spokesman for the National Drug Prevention Alliance, becoming probably the most frequent UK media spokesperson against drug legalisation across all media. He has made a special study of the drug legalisation movement from its origins in the mid 70s. He has presented on this subject to audiences in the UK, Brussels, Istanbul and North/South America and given evidence on drug policy to the Government of Western Australia. He is an invited member of the International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy. He has written a small number of newspaper articles on drugs policy. (Independent and Guardian.)

He has been an outspoken critic of the poor performance of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in respect of drugs, during its early days. His criticisms, opposed initially, later became the language used by government and broadly accepted. Many of the initiators of the failed policies have left SOCA.

He has attended, generally by invitation, workshops or meetings with all three major political parties when they have been reviewing drug policies.

He was the first person in the UK to point out publicly the inappropriate pro legalisation antics of Professor David Nutt when the Professor was on the ACMD and to call for him to consider his position, (or for government to do it for him). Professor Nutt was subsequently sacked by the Labour Home Secretary.

In 2002 he gave written and oral evidence on drugs policy to the Home Affairs Select committee, then under Chris Mullen MP. He is prepared to give oral evidence again in 2012.

This submission focuses primarily on the drug using culture, some of the history and the legalisation arguments. Other areas in the HASC questions where the writer might contribute orally are on links with organised crime and terrorism, the current failures of anti drug smuggling policy and procedures and the proposed National Crime Agency. Comments or questions about the world-wide drug legalisation campaign and the effects thereof might be answered or expanded

Some History

10. The writer argues that UK drug policy was at its most effective when all three major parties had broadly the same policies, that is pre 1990. Arguably enforcement was also then at its most effective in disrupting trafficking and making the UK an unattractive target for organised crime. (Example, a US based commentator, Bob Stutman, warned the UK of an upcoming crack cocaine epidemic here, towards the end of the 80s, it took nearly 10 years to arrive).

11. Early in the 90s the Liberals/Liberal Democrats began to drift away from the core deterrent policy (Note that a pro legalisation motion was passed at the most recent Lib-Dem conference).

In the mid 90s the worldwide campaign for legalisation, particularly of cannabis, took hold in Britain. It was spear headed by the Independent on Sunday and Rosie Boycott as editor. Though both have now recanted, the Independent on Sunday especially fulsomely. It is important to understand that the legalisation argument and debate had been brought to the UK in the mid 1970s by the “father of legalisation” Professor Arnold Trebach, but until the 1990s the arguments made no progress. The writer suggests there is a correlation the HASC should examine, between the rise of the legalisation argument in the UK and the increasingly damaging position of the UK as the European country most troubled by damaging drug use.

12. From the mid 1990s the drug supply and demand curves took off, possibly partly because of successes against cocaine in the US. The UK continued to develop one of the biggest drug problems in Europe.

13. In 1999, focussing on “the drugs that cause most harm” (a phrase disgraced UK Deputy Drug Czar Mike Trace now tells the writer he invented), UK Customs stopped the deliberate targeting of cannabis imports and the UK was flooded with the stuff, much of it Moroccan Cannabis Resin and according to users, of poor quality. The price after 2000 dropped as supplies dramatically increased. The UK had given traffickers open-house and they took it. This combined with increasingly strident and frequent media comment about legalisation was fuelling dramatic changes in drug using culture. Arguably even the comments at and after the HASC hearings in 2002 contributed. The current Prime Minister as a member of HASC had signalled some support for liberalisation (since recanted—see below).

14. David Blunkett’s blunder in cannabis downgrading took effect shortly afterwards. “Age of first use” dropped alarmingly as did “age of first regular use”. Reportedly, kids–often pre teen were/still are, using cannabis on the way to school, at school and on their way home. The effect of this is that these kids become un-teachable, discipline breaks down, they fail academically, some drop out of education, they are forever damaged. Many, too many, become mentally ill, some diagnosed psychotic, others below formal diagnosis as mentally ill, nevertheless unable to really contribute to society and cause huge distress to their families. The unemployment or mentally disabled register looms for many, their jobs taken by educated hard-working Poles and others from Eastern Europe. The government became seriously worried. Alarm bells rang in the Department of Social Security and in the Department of Health, both now picking up the pieces of the very wrong Home Office policy. The downgrading policy was looking expensive and socially damaging.

15. Out on the streets, the imported poor quality cannabis resin was gradually replaced by home grown and Dutch “sinsemillia” or “skunk” cannabis, this getting progressively stronger but strength alone being only one of several contributing factors to damage. Frequency of use and age of first use is also important, and, in the view of this writer, so was/is the different ratio of THC to CBD in this new fresh, home grown “super-weed”. The belief is that CBD moderates the effect of THC on the brain. (Note. The writer’s early view on THC/CBD is now becoming mainstream scientific opinion.)

16. A new Home Secretary, (Blunkett having left government), took over and anxiously asked the ACMD for advice—yet again, on cannabis classification. The ACMD resorted to “return-to-sender” for this enquiry after a half-hearted review where, according to inside information, there was no vote merely a decision by the Chairman, Sir Michael Rawlins and a round the table “chat”. Dissent in the ACMD, is not encouraged, the ACMD members, all of them, have historically only negligible knowledge of the drugs market. The self-selection of new members keeps out those who oppose liberalisation so plainly; the internal debate is and can only be, very one-sided. (There is some evidence for this predisposition to liberalisation on the ACMD membership in the outcry that took place last year in respect of Dr H C Raabe.)

17. No change then, the cannabis problem for teenagers and pre-teens gets worse. In 2007 the spin doctors and even Ministers take comfort in figures from the British Crime Survey which shows a slight reduction in cannabis use at ages 16 to 24. No one other than this writer mentions this is simply because cannabis for older young people is becoming unfashionable and gets replaced by cocaine, crack-cocaine and (particularly) gross and physically damaging alcohol consumption. Cocaine use in the UK has also zoomed up.

18. The regular discovery of organised Cannabis farms, a new phenomenon in the UK (although known elsewhere, for example in Canada) and an entire new industry in the UK since the Blunkett downgrading, goes unexplained, Cannabis use is down we are emphatically told. When this writer challenges this and points to the farms, pro cannabis legalisation lobbyist Professor Colin Blakemore, suggests the UK is a substantial exporter of cannabis. A statement that defies belief, there is no evidence of such a thing.

19. Another ACMD examination of cannabis at the request of yet another Home Secretary takes place in 2008. Despite the manifest harms of cannabis, the evidence on THC & CBD, the plea of the National Director of Mental Health the ACMD does not advise reclassification. There was an ACMD public hearing in which a well known Australian based agitator for cannabis legalisation and alterations to the UN Conventions was presented as an expert and paid for by the UK taxpayer.

20. On 6 April 2008 David Cameron as leader of the opposition recants his earlier position (Sky News). Asked by Adam Boulton if cannabis should be reclassified he said:

Yes…I think we should. We had a discussion about this in our Shadow Cabinet some time ago and made very clear that was our policy. I think the main reason is because the sort of cannabis now being smoked is so strong and there is such a link to mental health issues that it should be Class B.

AB The point that (the caller) makes is that you were in the Home Affairs Select Committee which actually recommended going in the other direction.

DC I think there was a lot in that committee’s report (HASC 2002) that was very good particularly on treatment. Actually we were saying that education and treatment were the absolute keys but I think on reclassification we got it wrong on reflection…

21. The Government accepts all the advice of the ACMD on cannabis except the recommendation on classification, Cannabis is reclassified to B.

22. The reclassification of cannabis in the UK caused enormous world wide fuss, but classification had in the opinion of this writer become hopelessly totemic.

23. From that point legalisation campaigners have focussed on the case of Portugal with an ongoing argument about decriminalisation replacing arguments about classification. Commentators have not really studied Portuguese methods but build on one flawed study which misrepresented the situation there. Most people do not realise that Portuguese methods of getting people into treatment via custody at the Police Station could not occur in the UK if the criminal justice system were to be taken out of the equation. No one in the UK system can be compelled to attend a Police Station except by way of arrest.

24. Changes are now afoot in Portugal. Very recently the Portuguese government has closed the heavily criticised Portuguese Drug Institute (IDT) and restored evidence-based psychosocial intervention strategies of drug free programs to addicts. A new agency is being created, SICAD—Intervention Service on Additive Behaviours and Dependencies, to allow more effectively “the planning and following up of programs to reduce the consumption of psychoactive substances, prevention of addictive behaviours and diminishing of dependencies in a new service born in Health Ministry direct administration” (Statement from the Council of Ministers of December 7, 2011).

25. Things are not only changing in Portugal. In the Netherlands the cannabis cafes are being restricted, some closed down, sales to foreigners ruled out and some types of cannabis (those now most prevalent in the UK market-with low CBD) reclassified as “hard drugs”.

26. The self styled “Global Commission” reported in 2011 and through other efforts by a small group in the UK House of Lords and the terms written for the current HASC review, the Global Commission legalisation lobby group has been given oxygen.

The Legalisation Lobby—a Summary

27. Throughout the period mid-90s to date, legalisation lobby groups have been increasingly active. They are very well financed. In the UK the dominant overt provider of funds is the Esmee Fairburn Foundation which has financed both “TRANSFORM” (a single issue, drug legalisation/normalisation lobby group) and UKDPC, a less overt but still liberalising influence. The Chief Executive of Esmee Fairburn is Dawn Austwick; she sat as an observer on the UKDPC Board. In view of the millions the Foundation has spent supporting the drug legalisation lobby, she is a person the HASC might usefully question. In the view of this writer the enormously wealthy Esmee Fairburn Foundation exercises power without taking responsibility for the social consequences.

28. Mid 90s to date the most quoted body on drug policy in the UK, has been “DrugScope”, a subtly liberalising influence but doing some good sound work as well. Despite getting much of their funding from the UK Government, at one stage, actors within DrugScope were covertly working in Europe to undermine the UN Drug Conventions and get changes made in a challenge to expressed Labour government (and their paymaster) policy. That was arguably corrupt.

29. The UK “Beckley Foundation” has become increasingly strident, financed and run by Amanda Neidpath, Baroness Wemyss. With others, it has been active in promoting the ideas of the “Global Commission” in the Palace of Westminster. It has seemingly unlimited funds. It financed a booklet “Cannabis Policy—Moving beyond Stalemate” which has been trawled around internationally in an effort to change international opinion on cannabis. (Amanda Neidpath once herself achieved minor notoriety for boring a hole in her own skull or self trepanning.)

30. “The Global Commission” is the latest iteration of the George Soros funded and world wide drug legalisation campaign which is explained in his book “Soros on Soros”. Soros funding also finds its way to the most prominent North American drug legalisation lobby groups and massively supported the (failed) cannabis legalisation proposition in California. Funding is regularly provided through his network of “Open Society” offices all around the world. The exposure in a British newspaper of covert support being given to the Open Society Brussels Office by one time UK Deputy Drug Czar Mike Trace, led to him having to resign from his then new job with the United Nations. He was, as he admitted in his own words at the time, “disgraced”.

There is no evidence, yet, that Trace was working covertly for Soros at the time he was in UK Government service. Of course if he was doing that, it would have been corruption right at the heart of UK policy making.

31. The leaked e-mails that exposed Trace as, in his words, a “fifth columnist” (which the writer holds details of) outline the creation of a body much like the “Global Commission” with some of the same pro legalisation actors eg Richard Branson .

Legalisation Arguments and Shared Responsibility

32. The worldwide and domestic legalisation lobby groups, whose arguments the writer would be happy to deal with in oral evidence, singularly fail to demonstrate a “public good” behind their ideas and have real trouble reconciling the immense personal and social harm of the tobacco/alcohol model, as variously applied around the world, with their nirvana (for some campaigners) of availability of any and every possible substance for what is called “recreational use”. Legalisation campaigners tend to step around the increasing harms from illegal use of prescription drugs where we already have a tight, legal, but failing, prescription regime.

33. A key and specious argument often used is that legalisation would “take the criminality out of supply”. This is often repeated by a few serving and ex law enforcement officers who should know better. In fact legalisation would gift an inevitably larger market to organised criminality, with counterfeiting and substitution taking place. The HASC should take note (and maybe even evidence?) on the size of the illegal tobacco and alcohol markets. The illegal tobacco market is said to exceed 20% (in the writers time in service it was higher) with illegal tobacco product, being smuggled, counterfeit or both.

34. Some legalisation campaigners fail to accept that the effects of damaging drug use (legal or illegal) are not just personal to the user but affect those around the user, family, friends, work colleagues and the wider public who pick up the social costs.

35. One of the foremost commentators on drugs policy Professor Peter Reuter has pointed out (1999) a key fact with which the writer agrees:

Drug legalisation is a very risky strategy which advocates never acknowledge. That is because TOTAL DRUG HARM =AVERAGE HARM PER USER X TOTAL USE.

This means that TOTAL HARM can increase even if average harm goes down. TOTAL HARM could increase very substantially indeed, as the evidence of the tobacco/alcohol model amply demonstrates.

Drug legalisation can make an individual episode of personal drug taking safer (known quantity, known or more reliable content), yet massively increase social harm and even the personal harm of most users, over time.

36. The objectives of the worldwide legalisation lobby seem to this writer to be to get variations made to the UN Conventions (with a current target date of 2020—the last one of 2008 having failed) to allow States more “freedoms” to make their own arrangements, with more toleration of drugs use, more decriminalisation and less social stigma attached to use, even leading full legalisation for some drugs, even if only on the false “medical use” model. The belief seems to be that success in one or two countries with this agenda, would create a “domino effect” which would ripple around the world. Anglophone countries are under particular attack.

37. Examination of the disease transmission model, of addiction and damaging drugs use, leads inevitably to the conclusion that no State is able to act independently on drugs policy without affecting neighbours. The damaging example of the Netherlands becoming an entrepot state for drugs trafficking and manufacture is one such. (Though the Netherlands now does better at enforcement than the UK.)

The writer argues that States have shared responsibility under the conventions, not to unilaterally consider major changes which would have social consequences for all States. No British Government so far has shown any tendency to do that. Bob Ainsworth a former Labour drugs Minister emphatically told the HASC that the last Labour government wished no changes in the conventions. As David Cameron has acknowledged, the last HASC drugs review, of which he was a member, got some things wrong.

38. The writer would urge the current HASC to pay no attention to siren voices. The last HASC review sadly did that (with the then Chairman going off to support an international legalisation lobby group), meanwhile matters in the UK got considerably worse. That HASC review had very little in the way of positive effects.

What the current HASC says now, if ill considered, can add to the damaging “noise” around drugs policy.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012