Former No 10 adviser says UK drug laws are ‘racist’ and calls for decriminalisation

30th September 2021

The former chair of the government’s race disparity unit’s advisory group called the drug laws “racist” and called for a change in approach as the current status quo cause “high levels of mental health harm” among black people.

The Guardian reports that Simon Woolley, who was appointed by Theresa May to chair the above-mentioned group, said the infamous Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 had failed, and it’s been used as a “tool of systematic racism.”

According to Lord Woolley, a crossbench peer, black people are more likely to be stopped and searched for suspected drug possession and are more likely to be arrested, charged and imprisoned because of the current legislation.

He said: “It creates anxiety, stress and alienation that contribute to the high levels of mental health harm experienced across our black communities.

“For decades, politicians from all sides have either turned a blind eye to drug policy failures or weaponised the debate to score cheap political points.

“This has led to half a century of stagnation, which has landed with force on our black communities, driving up needless criminalisation and undermining relationships with the police.”

Lord Woolley calls for a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, as he said the UK had failed its people.

Decriminalisation, he added, may be a solution.

He said: “Such a review should provide a comprehensive, independent assessment of the effects of the Misuse of Drugs Act and its fitness for purpose 50 years on.

“It must also consider in detail the options for alternative approaches, including the growing body of evidence indicating benefit in both decriminalisation of people who take drugs and legal regulation of non-medical drug supplies worldwide.”

There is growing support for ending drug prohibition in the UK. Activists and campaigners are lobbying the government relentlessly to have, at least, cannabis decriminalised in the near future.

The most recent news is that cannabis advocates want to make London join Zurich and run recreational cannabis pilot programmes starting 2022. Also, separately, Scotland has now effectively decriminalised Class A drug possession.

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