The Government intends to publish a new Drug Strategy in early December 2010. This presents an opportunity to mark the beginning of a fresh approach to the problem of illicit use of controlled drugs. This briefing sets out the key considerations for policymakers looking to find sustainable solutions to reducing drug harm.
Illicit drug use affects individuals, families and communities in every part of the UK, often with tragic costs and consequences. The costs to society – for treatment, ongoing healthcare, sanctions through the criminal justice system, and benefits and support if dependency has made working impossible – are considerable.
As an MP, you will doubtless have seen at first hand the impacts of drugs on the families and communities you represent. Like anyone with a desire to help young people succeed, to boost employment, to cut crime and to improve public health, you will be keen to ensure that policy in this area makes the most effective contribution possible.
The forthcoming Drug Strategy will not, and cannot be expected to, solve all of the problems associated with drugs. Many of these will take significant cultural and economic shifts to change, which might only be realised over the course of a generation. The economic realities mean also that there will be limited room to manoeuvre in the short term.
So this briefing, from the independent UK Drug Policy Commission, aims to give a realistic, practical and above all evidence-based assessment of the options and priorities for both the Drug Strategy and for longer term policy development.