are in Activism / Government
Council on the Misuse of Drugs may be failing to fulfill their duty
thanks to Duncan Cameron, from Parents
Against Lethal Addictive Drugs (PALAD) for the below information and permission
to use it.
Against Lethal Addictive Drugs began as an informal group of parents concerned
about the drug problems faced by their children. After reading Government reports
they were shocked to find that the harm caused by illegal drugs is far outweighed
by the harm caused by legal drugs, notably alcohol and tobacco. After further
research, they came to the opinion that the current drug laws are doing far more
harm than good, not least because they appear to encourage the use of the most
harmful drugs and discourage any use of other less harmful drugs. Cannabis is,
whilst certainly not harmless, considerably safer for most people than alcohol
or tobacco. PALAD have called for cannabis to be legalised and regulated. It is
apparent that whatever the drug laws are based on it cannot be on the relative
harm of the use of a substance. PALAD want to expose this finding to the public
and challenge the Government to respond appropriately.
contacted UKCIA expressing his concern that the Advisory
Council on the Misuse of Drugs - the Government's "statutory independent
advisory body" on the subject of drugs - was failing to follow the Governmental
Code of Practise for Scientific Committees or Government-issued guidelines on
risk assessment, risk management, health policy and good regulation. He provided
a summary of his concerns below:
The ACMD has a statutory duty under section 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
to provide Government with risk assessments and regulatory advice concerning the
traditional drugs alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. There is no exclusion clause
for these drugs in section 1 of the MDA.
independence of the ACMD's scientific advice is compromised by Government pressure
for them to exclude traditional drugs from their advice, contradicting the requirement
for independence in the Code of Practise for Scientific Committees. The ACMD use
the word 'drugs' to refer to illegal drugs only, contradicting the use of the
word in the MDA.
assessments by the ACMD/Government are biased by risk familiarity, a known factor
that influences risk perception. The familiar risks associated with traditional
drugs have been underestimated and the unfamiliar risks from non-traditional drugs
overestimated, with respective regulations proportionately biased.
management/regulatory advice from the ACMD fails to distinguish between the voluntary
risk of self-harm, managed through education, and the risk of imposing harm on
others, managed through legislation. This contradicts the Government's risk management
guidelines (the Strategy Unit's Risk: improving government capability to handle
risks and uncertainty) and health policies to encourage individual responsibility
through informed choice (Saving lives: Our healthier nation, the Wanless report
Securing good health for the whole population  and the Strategy Unit's Personal
responsibility and changing behaviour).
ACMD's regulatory advice does not comply with the Better Regulation Task Force's
Principles of Good Regulation, which include the principles of Consistency, Targeting
and Proportionality. The ACMD's advice:
not consistent with existing regulations for traditional drugs;
is not targeted only at the problem, harmful drug use, but at all drug use; and
is not proportional to risk (drug dealers may supply a drug that warns it kills,
tobacco, but face punishment if they sell safer alternatives like cannabis).
submitted a comprehensive
report to the Committee
on Standards in Public Life. His aim is to force the Government to be "transparent
about the reasons for prohibition: there is no evidence that illegal drugs are
more harmful than legal drugs but UN Drug Conventions require the UK to prohibit
their trade. Once the public appreciates these facts public opinion may change
would welcome any feedback about this report and their general approach. Please
provide feedback via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UKCIA will await the response to this report and PALAD's further work with great