By Roland Sebestyén
Most MPs believe that it is time to update UK drug laws “based on evidence”, new polling data commissioned by the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) published today shows.
According to a new report ‘Making UK Drug Policy a Success: Reforming the Policymaking Process’, MPs are overwhelmingly ready for drug policy reform.
It is reported that the majority of the MPs surveyed are in favour of “evidence-based drug policies” in the UK – this includes the majority of Conservative MPs polled, the Parliamentary demographic traditionally associated with the greatest resistance to innovation in this area:
- 72% agree that the process of creating drug policy should make more use of current evidence and research;
- 75% share the sentiment that policy about controlled drugs is such a controversial issue, it can be difficult to have an objective debate about the best solutions; and
- 85% (and 90% of all MPs) agree that improved cross-departmental coordination would better help to tackle the health crime and social problems associated with controlled drugs.
The full polling data incontrovertibly dispels the myth that there is predominant resistance among MPs to change in this area, which has historically been a barrier to drug policy reform.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Crispin Blunt MP, Chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, said: “Drug policy across the world is shifting, and following the commission of Dame Carol Black’s independent review along with the upcoming drugs strategy, the time is right for us to grasp this complex area once and for all and reap the enormous opportunities that getting this right will bring to the UK.”
The report makes 23 recommendations for improving how UK drug policy is made.
These relate to understanding the problem, setting goals, policy design, costing, local commissioning, outcome monitoring, evaluation, accountability and overall policy improvement.
To identify better ways forward for drug policymaking in the UK, the CDPRG’s consultation process included individual expert interviews and two roundtables, on cross-cutting policies and building capacity for research and evaluation.
Mr Blunt added: “Historically, governments have been nervous of drug policy change. But things are changing and it is now a misperception that both the general public and Members of Parliament are unready for change.
“Anxiety about the risk of change helped reinforce an innovation-shy drugs policy that has served maintenance of the status quo that is increasingly deadly.
“CDPRG, which exists in order to make evidence available to parliamentarians and bridge the gap between research and science and all policymakers necessary evidence has now researched parliamentary opinion and the results reveal that the majority of MPs, in line with the British public, recognise that current drug policy isn’t working and are ready for drug policy reform.”
These findings could pave the way for a meaningful update to the way drug policy is made in the UK for better outcomes. The CDPRG is already in talks with Ministers to further this as the new drugs strategy develops.