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May 2007
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Harm Maximizing

Transform’s Danny Kushlick has a good OpEd in todays Guardian.

UK drug policy is unique. In no other area of social policy do we criminalise at one stroke both recreation and disadvantage. In no other area have we seen so much evidence of the counterproductive effects of a predominantly criminal justice response to a public health problem. And we have seen almost no genuine debate or evidence-based scrutiny from ministers. The last 10 years of this parliament’s tacit and active support for a policy based on moral panic has finally broken the camel’s back. […]
Our current policy is completely at odds with social and legislative norms, a strategy based on criminalising drugs in order to reduce social harm. Yet, as the PM’s strategy unit drugs report of 2003 showed, it is the very illegality of the supply and use of drugs that causes harm. Despite our commitment to harm reduction, drug use exists within a political and legal framework that is harm maximising […]
Throughout the last decade government has shown a pathological unwillingness to debate the efficacy of the current approach. […]
Ultimately, we need a new paradigm for drug policy development, one based around health and wellbeing rather than macho posturing and knee-jerk, short-term responses to the failures of the current criminal justice-based policy.

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