On Wednesday 9 March, the House of Lords held a Question For Short Debate on making the case for a Royal Commission on drug use and possession. The debate was initiated by Lord Norton of Louth.
Lord Norton has hosted a comment section to his blog with a view to collating sources, evidence; and commentary that could be useful in the issue at hand. Please do view the noble Lord’s blog and comments here.
The actual Question For Short Debate can be viewed here (from 19:48 onwards)
-or the written transcript here:
The debate was overwhelming in the comprehensive call for evidence evidence evidence. In fact, at a quick count, the word evidence was used 42 times in the house, with every Lord calling for an elucidation of; and for a full evidence based policy.
Professor Nutt, of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, has long campaigned for evidenced based policy. David Nutt has received criticism for - what some consider - his lobbying for a full utilisation of evidence in drug policy. One can only make a fist of the frustration felt by, not only Professor Nutt, but a growing list of scientists who have resigned from the ACMD and related government roles. Scientific evidence has been wilfully dismissed in successive governments. The now full disengaged of science in drug policy is farcical, not to mention, a worrying conceptual blow to democratic ideals. It can be argued that the UK has a disingenuous and opinion based policy.
The list of lords that spoke out in favour of progressive measures in current drug law shows to some degree that this issue has long been dominated by media intervention over content. No more can this ethic be seen than by Baroness Joan Walmsley, LibDem peer, during the House of Lords debate on a Royal Commission on drugs policy, 9th March 2011
“My Government, who were elected with 60 per cent of the vote, should have the confidence to defy the tabloid newspapers. They should get the facts and act on them. We should not be afraid of ignorant, misleading and downright evil tabloid headlines. It is the right thing to do. Please let us do it!”
If The UK are serious about progressing societal wellbeing, it is hoped that this particular Question For Short Debate will go someway in ensuring more support within the houses, more support at grass roots; and an unpartisan media perhaps. The drugs debate is not a flippant issue; thanks has to be given to Lord Norton, Baroness Meacher and the list of lords who raised their heads above the parapet in calling for the investigation of drug policy.
The government’s response from Baroness Neville-Jones is perplexing to say the very least. Not only did the words of the noble lords fall on the deaf ears of government policy, but a skewing of facts was evident towards the end of her speech. Baroness Meacher fully contested Baroness Neville-Jones on her perceived understanding of Portugal and drug related HIV rates.
It is furthermore puzzling, given the strenuous content of the debate, just why mainstream media has had no interest in the content of the discussion. As ever, it falls to the word of mouth of dedicated individuals to raise much needed awareness to the fruitful dialogue in the House of Lords and to reciprocate the measured, and noble, vociferousness displayed in the house. If nothing else, this session will go someway in securing further proceedings.
Additional: following the Royal Commission dialogue, an all party group led by Baroness Meacher, with Lord Lawson, and the former heads of the BBC, MI5 and CPS - seek an evidence based policy and conclude the 'war on drugs' has failed. The study is in conjunction with the Beckley Foundation. Read more here: