We all have an interest in knowing which policies work in tackling problems associated with drug use. Many members of the public, and many politicians, believe that our drug policies are not working. But the debate about how we address the challenges of mind-altering drugs is polarised in a way not seen in most other policy areas.
The UK Drug Policy Commission was established to address these problems in a different way. Its aim has been to show how independent scrutiny of evidence can produce both better results and more effective use of resources in drug policy and practice.
Existing drug policies have struggled to limit the damage drug use can cause, and now new challenges are emerging. The rapid development of new drugs is changing drug markets too quickly for the traditional methods we use to control drugs to be effective. The economic crisis may be impacting on the nature of drug use and drug problems and, with fewer resources, the capacity of services to respond will be limited further. Added to that, the speed and scale at which services are being devolved to a local level may create increasing and unpredictable variations in the kind of services offered in different parts of the UK.
In this report, UKDPC proposes a radical rethink of how we structure our response to drug problems. It provides an analysis of the evidence for how policies and interventions could be improved, with recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to address the new and established challenges associated with drug use.
UKDPC aims to foster a fresh approach to drug policy: one in which evidence takes priority, creating light rather than heat in the debate on drugs, so that we can create an environment that works to reduce dependence on drugs, safeguards communities and delivers value for money.