Bereaved families call on MPs to end the drug war

By agency reporter
June 26, 2018

Today, (26 June 2018), as part of a day of action, record numbers of bereaved families and activists will descend on parliament to tell their stories and call on MPs to end the drug war by legalising and regulating drug supply. 

26 June is the UN’s International Day Against Drug Trafficking and Abuse, when the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) publishes its World Drug Report, and joins global leaders in vowing to continue to fight the so-called ‘War on Drugs’.  This international drug war – and the UK’s domestic one - is built upon UN treaties which prohibit the production and supply of certain drugs for non-medical (ie recreational) use.

This year, bereaved families and activists from across the UK will meet their MPs in parliament to tell their stories of how the current approach has affected their lives.  They will call on MPs to put doctors, pharmacists and licensed vendors in charge of the drugs market in order to save lives. The event is organised by Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

The UNODC acknowledges that taking a prohibition-based approach inevitably creates a vast criminal trade in drugs, diverts resources away from health and puts public health at risk. As a result, in the UK each week 50 people die from preventable illegal drug related overdoses – the highest number in Europe.  By the end of the day’s action seven people will have died unnecessarily. 

This day of action is part of a global initiative, under the 'Support. Don’t Punish' banner, which will see thousands of people in over 200 cities, mobilise in support of drug policies based on human rights and public health. 

At 6pm there will be a Cross Party Panel event in the Palace of Westminster, asking, 'What next for UK drug policy?'

The event will be hosted by Crispin Blunt MP (Conservative) and Jeff Smith MP (Labour). Speakers will be Neil Woods, a former undercover police officer for 14 years, Rose Humphries and Anne-Marie Cockburn from Anyone’s Child, a campaign of Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

Anne-Marie Cockburn, Martha’s mother and member of Anyone’s Child says, “When I hear the news that a young person has died and yet another family has joined the bereaved parents’ club, I feel helpless as I wonder how many more need to die before someone in government will actually do something about it?

"As I stand by my child’s grave, what more evidence do I need that things must change? I believe that my daughter would still be alive today had she taken something that was legally regulated – as it would be labelled with a list of ingredients and recommended dosage information.”

Jeff Smith MP says: “It’s clear our drug policies are failing – the UK holds the grim title of being the drug overdose capital of Europe.

"While our international partners take steps to reduce the harm associated with drug use, our Government doubles down on zero tolerance rhetoric based on policies drawn up almost 60 years ago.

"The Government cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand as drug-related deaths rise to new records each year. It’s time to take control of this issue and start protecting people.”

Crispin Blunt MP said: “The world is finally waking up to the wealth of evidence which proves that most countries’ approach to the war on drugs has produced collectively a global catastrophe. This must now change.

"It is time that the UK, particularly its Government and Parliament, woke up to the reality of the situation. Our objective must be to reduce harm. The prize is ending the power and control that violent criminal drug gangs have over society, the lifting of an enormous burden on the criminal justice system and saving countless lives.

"We have all been shocked by the report into the Gosport scandal where hundreds of lives were ended early. Our drugs policy is a scandal a thousand times worse.”

The day of action is supported by the following organisations: Support. Don’t Punish, Health Poverty Action, Release, Kaleidoscope, Westminster Drugs Project, Blenheim CDP, Recovering Justice, Law Enforcement Action Project

* Transform Drug Policy Fundation http://www.tdpf.org.uk/

* Anyone's Child http://www.tdpf.org.uk/campaign/anyones-child

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