Leading UK Drug Reform Groups Push Ahead with Blueprints for Legalization
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Perhaps because the scale of the UK crisis is measurably lower than in the States, and thus more manageable, two UK-based drug policy organizations have been able to craft individual frameworks for reform and regulation that are garnering a lot of attention, and inspiring activists and reformers across the pond.
The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network of NGOs and professional networks that specialize in issues related to the production and use of controlled drugs, recently published the first edition of their Drug Policy Guide aimed at national policymakers. This visionary group was initiated by the vanguard Beckely Foundation and is being managed by Release, a UK legal advisory group for drugs and human rights that provides free & confidential counsel to public and professional policymakers. IDPC received funding and assistance from the European Commission's Drug Prevention & Information Programme.
The Drug Policy Guide "brings together global evidence and best practices on the design and implementation of drug policies and programs at national level" by showcasing "a growing number of policy and program options available to address the harms that are associated with drug markets and drug use."
The IDPC operates from five fundamental principles:
- Drug Policy Decisions Should be More Informed by the Best Available Evidence
- Drug Policies Should Shift Focus and Priority from Reducing the Scale of the Drug Market to Reducing its Negative Consequences
- Efforts to Reduce the Supply of Drugs Should Not Focus on the Punishment of Growers
- Efforts to Reduce the Demand for Drugs Should Not Focus on The Punishment Of Users
- The UN System Should Develop a More Co-ordinated and Cohesive Approach to Drug Policy Issues
Their library contains over 200 publications on international drug policy produced by IDPC, their members and other relevant organizations.
Over at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a "charitable think tank" that advocates regulation over prohibition, they have crafted "specific models of regulation for each main type and preparation of prohibited drug, coupled with the principles and rationale for doing so" and put them together into a 200 page powerhouse document called, After the War on Drugs: A Blueprint for Regulation.
Released last November to much fanfare at an event at the House of Commons, the Blueprint has since been adopted by many American drug policy reformers as the only tangible road map to legalization. Entire cases of the Blueprint were sent to the DPA's International Drug Policy Reform Conference in New Mexico with the intention of reaching reformers from around the nation. Perhaps emblematic of the reticence of American policymakers to embrace regulation, the cases were held up at customs and did not get cleared until after the conference.
Dan Linn, the director of the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association and Illinois NORML, who is also the lead lobbyist for a medical cannabis law in the State of Illinois, currently in the State Assembly, ended up with a case of the Blueprint and eagerly handed them out to all his colleagues.
"As the title states, this is a real 'blueprint,'" Linn said in a phone interview. "People want to see this happen, but some folks have a harder time envisioning how these substances can potentially be regulated and distributed in a legal setting. Cannabis is of course easy to figure out, you can grow it your yard, but psychedelics or cocaine present more difficult challenges for a legal system of regulation. The Blueprint does an amazing, unprecedented job, really, of showing how this can be done in a legitimate manner that is also safe for the non-user."