Update in January 2018
During the first half of 2017, I took part in the groundbreaking and controversial BBC One documentary series Drugsland, filmed in Bristol. It allowed me time to analyse how drugs affect not just those using alcohol and other drugs, or their families and friends, but all of us. Throughout the filming process I reflected on what I was learning and considered the implications for public policy. The documentary was finally broadcast in November and December 2017. I feature in episode four which considers whether the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, largely unchanged in over three decades, remains fit for purpose.
In 22 November 2017 I kicked off Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons by challenging Theresa May to reform our 'plainly failing' drugs laws and urged her to watch the Drugsland series.
Updated in July 2017
On 18 July 2017 I spoke in a parliamentary debate about drugs policy. This followed publication of the government’s new Drug strategy 2017, which sets out a number of new actions to prevent the harm caused by drug misuse.
I voiced criticisms of several aspects of the government's approach, and you'll find my full speech in a blog post on this website.
Posted February 2016
I believe that politicians should strongly consider a new approach to drug laws – one which is evidence-based and which minimises harm and unnecessary criminalisation.
The arguments made by experts in the fields of criminal justice, pharmacology and drug rehabilitation should not be ignored.
I believe there should now be an all-encompassing inquiry into drug laws and the possibility of reform – and that the Government should accept what is recommended.
Public opinion is increasingly shifting to a view that the current situation is unacceptable, and around the world legislative reform is providing examples for our nation to consider.
Drug use can never be eradicated: the last eighty or so years of the War on Drugs has demonstrated that fairly clearly. There is a strong case to be made that legislative reform could produce circumstances where drug use is safer; where those who develop health problems have the support they need to recover; where organised crime is denied its main source of funding; and where criminalisation does not destroy opportunities for vulnerable people.