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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Evidence, Evidence, Evidence!

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:


  1. is the government corrupt ? yes they are

  2. Why does the media consistently fail to report these enlightened debates.

    Why does the government always dig their heels in?

    Why have we not changed a thing in 50 years of failed policy?

  3. I fully have had enough of how the debate is conducted, it's one thing to have futile law and regressive policies, but it's beyond frustrating to have all evidence ignored, and only outdated opinion allowed to make law.

    They're on rocky ground now, only a certain amount of times people can be ignored.

  4. Nice! Finally someone who does what is right and not what the papers want to report. Thanks so much Lord Norton! We're behind you!

  5. WOW! WHO'D A THUNK THAT WOULD HAPPEN? Makes you angry the response tho eh?

    When are they going to learn, or when are they going to NOT parley with what they think the voters want to hear?

  6. What can we say, are we seeing some sense at last?!!!!

  7. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for posting the transcript. It's def a long-overdue debate.
    I find it absolutey astounding just how ignorant to fact baroness neville-Jones is. The decision has been made to maintain the status quo and she wishes we would stop asking such awkward questions and just go away... reading between the lines...

    She does however say that Current policy would be based on constant evaluation- evaluation by who? Themselves?.....

    I could swear she was told by several of her peers that current policy is a failure... seems to be typical of the torys, they only seem to hear what suits them.

  8. I didn't see this, thank you for the heads up!

    My my, are we to see change?

  9. An encouraging debate, hope they can keep up the momentum. If I'm not mistaken most recent polls show 70% of us want this crap sorted out and there seems to be a voice in all political parties. So as I see it the only thing holding this back is the Media led Corporate Dictatorship that runs the world. Cannabis is the key to our chastity and they know it. Prohibition is very profitable to all involved. We all know we can save the planet with cannabis but that doesn't fit with the Carbon Con that will tax every aspect of our lives, does it!

  10. Thankyou to give such important information for us