Reform debate – drugs

Drugs: Third Report of Session 2022–23 (2023)
In this report the Committee calls for a new legislative and funding framework that enables practical, risk-reducing interventions such as establishing a pilot drug consumption facility and drug testing at festivals. It further calls from a move away from an abstinence-only approach towards harm reduction with improved cross-working between police, health and social services. The Committee found that law enforcement should continue to do all it can to stamp out the illicit trade of controlled drugs, but will need to be bolstered by a stronger public health response that helps people escape drug addiction and related criminality | Home Affairs Committee, UK

A Caring, Compassionate and Human Rights Informed Drug Policy for Scotland (2023)
This paper outlines what a progressive, evidence-based drugs policy would look like with public health and the reduction of harm as its underlying principles | Scottish Government, UK

Working to decriminalise people who use drugs (PDF) (2023)
Scottish Drug Forum (SDF) were commissioned by Ana Liffey Drug Project in Ireland to conduct an evaluation of the recent decriminalisation and advocacy efforts, in five international jurisdictions | SDF, UK

Hodges Review: a review of UK public policy; regulatory stewardship of the legal cannabis industry (2022)
In February this year following a series of meetings with Ministers, advisers and senior officials in Whitehall the Centre of Medicinal Cannabis and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry commissioned Oxford University’s Professor Christopher Hodges to oversee a comprehensive review of the UK legal cannabinoid industry with a particular regard to how public policy and regulation can support the sector’s growth and development. [Please note that to receive the report you must enter an email address on the website linked to above] | Hodges Review, UK

Regulating Right, Repairing Wrongs: Exploring Equity and Social Justice Initiatives within UK Cannabis Reform (2022)
This report proposes 14 guiding social equity principles which should be integrated in the UK’s future legally regulated cannabis market. This paper builds on Release’s national research on the disproportionate policing of ethnic minority individuals and other disadvantaged groups, and evaluates regulatory frameworks emerging in North America and beyond. It outlines an evidence-based roadmap to prioritise and protect those most vulnerable to the harms of prohibition in legal recreational markets, while still ensuring the benefits of cannabis legalisation and regulation for all | Release, UK

The use of out-of-court disposals and diversion at the ‘front end’ (2022)
This report examines the effectiveness of out-of-court disposals and diversion programmes and considers whether there is scope to increase their use. Our research included analysis of the latest evidence and trends, an in-depth study in the Thames Valley Police force area and a nationally representative survey. We concluded that there is a strong case to be made for the expansion of out-of-court sanctions – building on pockets of good practice across England and Wales… | CREST Advisory, UK

The New Leaf: Beyond Brexit, Countering Covid (2021)
The New Leaf Opportunities campaign has highlighted the economic benefits, innovations and investment opportunities that medical cannabis and CBD can bring to the UK. It has also focused on how celebrating this will lead to a more vibrant cannabis sector. This report has honed in on the opportunities that medical cannabis and CBD bring through an economic, innovation and regulatory lens | Volteface, UK

Meet the Global Drug Policy Index (2021)
The Global Drug Policy Index provides each country with a score and ranking that shows how much their drug policies and their implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development. [The UK ranks 4th] | Global Drug Policy Index, UK

Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring? (2021)
This report is intended to open up the debate on decriminalisation and make clear the expectations people who use drugs have for future action on drug policy reform. Most importantly, it includes a call for full decriminalisation without sanctions as the new baseline for measuring progress on decriminalisation in the future | INPUD, UK

How to regulate stimulants: A practical guide (2020)
The ‘war on drugs’ has been lead to violence, exploitation and record numbers of drug-related deaths. We all recognise the need to do things differently. In this book we show why the responsible regulation of stimulant drugs is the only realistic alternative, and set out the practical steps to getting the market under control | Transform, UK

Principles for the responsible legal regulation of cannabis (2020)
In recent years, discussions on the legal regulation of drugs – and in particular of cannabis – have moved in from the margins of drug policy debates. As of today, over 50 countries have adopted regulatory frameworks for medical cannabis, while a growing number of jurisdictions have regulated adult non-medical use, with many more poised to follow | ICPR, UK

Scottish Affairs Committee calls for decriminalisation and safe drug consumption rooms (2019)
Drug-related deaths in Scotland reached an all-time high of 1,187 last year. In what has been one of the most extensive inquiries ever conducted into problem drug use in Scotland the committee heard from agencies, health services, academics, Governments, those with lived experience as well families who have been affected by problem drug use, The committee also visited Portugal, Germany and Canada to examine the evidence from international examples. The report concludes that Government approach to drug use must be substantially reformed | Scottish Affairs Committee, UK

Drugs policy: First Report of Session 2019–20
A health focused and harm reduction approach would not only benefit those who are using drugs but reduce harm to and the costs for their wider communities say the Health and Social Care Committee in its report on drugs policy |, UK

Drugs policy: medicinal cannabis (2019)
The plight of children affected by intractable epilepsy and the efforts of the families of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell to access to medicinal cannabis led to a change in Government policy. In November 2018 medicinal cannabis was changed from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001, allowing specialist doctors to prescribe it and for products to be available for further research to be conducted | House of Commons / Health and Social Care Committee, UK

Classification of Psychoactive Substances: when science was left behind (2019)
In this report the Global Commission on Drug Policy explains how the biased historical classification of psychoactive substances has contributed to the “world drug problem”. It is the first-ever comprehensive report providing a political reading of the current evaluation and classification, or “scheduling” of drugs according to their harms | GCDP, Switzerland

What we have learned over the last ten years: A summary of knowledge acquired and produced by the UN system on drug-related matters, 2019 (PDF)
This brief is a collection of successful experiences in law enforcement, prevention, health care, human rights and development over the last ten years. It is a tool for sharing best practices and promoting evidence-based, rights-based approaches | UNODC, Austria

Medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids: questions and answers for policy making (2018)
What is the evidence base for the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids? What is the difference between cannabis preparations and medicinal products and why is this important? How is this issue regulated in the EU? These and other questions are explored in this report which responds to growing interest in this topic as more European countries develop policies and practice in this area | EMCDDA, Portugal

Regulation: The Responsible Control of Drugs (PDF)
This report examines in detail how governments can take control of currently illegal drug markets through responsible regulation, thereby weakening criminal organizations that now profit from them | GCDP, Switzerland

Cannabis-derived medicinal products recommended to be available on prescription (2018)
The ACMD has recommended that cannabis-derived medicinal products should be placed in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 | ACMD, UK

Taking the Hit: Student drug use and how Institutions respond (PDF) (2018)
The findings in this report paint a complex picture of student drug use, one that has both positive and negative impacts on students’ lives. In doing so, it contrasts with some university, college and students’ union drug policies, which see student drug use wholly as a problem to be eradicated through suspensions, evictions and surveillance | NUS, Release UK

Taking a new line on drugs, 2018
Based on our recent report (PDF) of the same name, this video calls for a rethinking of the government’s drugs policy to take a more public health-led approach | Royal Society for Public Health, UK

Costs and unintended consequences of drug control policies, 2018, (PDF)
There is broad consensus that one overall aim of drug policy is to advance the health and welfare of mankind and reduce the individual and public health-related, social and safety problems resulting from the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances | Pompidou Group, France

The World Drug Perception Problem: Countering Prejudices About People Who Use Drugs
Drug policy reforms have been difficult to design, legislate or implement because current policies and responses are often based on perceptions and passionate beliefs, and what should be factual discussions leading to effective policies are frequently treated as moral debates | Global Commission on Drug Policy, Switzerland

Street Lottery: Cannabis Potency and Mental Health, 2017
This report provides a concise and compelling new account of the deleterious consequences of leaving cannabis in the hands of the black market. Drawing on insights from world class academics and original research, it was commissioned to stimulate a better informed and more nuanced public debate | Volte Face, UK

Green Screen, 2017
Volteface are delighted to announce the UK launch of the Green Screen report by author Mike Power (Drugs 2.0). The Green Screen – a new policy report that outlines the benefits of an online regulated market for legal cannabis | Volte Face, UK

Black Sheep: An Investigation into Existing Support for Problematic Cannabis Use, 2017, (PDF)
Cannabis is a neglected drug in public health discourses, a reality which is at odds with the growing number of people in England who are now seeking support for problematic cannabis use. The disparity of how cannabis is prioritised by drug and alcohol service providers, wider community services, local authority commissioners and public health bodies has limited the amount of support available and impeded quality | Volte Face, UK

An Introduction to the Tide Effect, 2016
The people of California have just voted to legalise cannabis – a decision which will have immense repercussions both in America and around the world, while efforts are already underway in Canada to legally regulate the cannabis market. The Tide Effect argues strongly that the UK should follow suit, and that the legalisation of cannabis here is both overdue and imperative | Volte Face, UK

Access to medicinal cannabis: meeting patient needs, 2016, (PDF)
The APPG have convened the most in-depth parliamentary inquiry into the use of medicinal cannabis ever undertaken. Alongside their inquiry, the APPG commissioned the most extensive review of evidence in the literature in modern times | APPG, UK

Taking a new line on drugs, 2016, (PDF)
‘Taking a New Line on Drugs’ assesses the situation in the UK as regards rising health harm from illegal drugs, with reference to their context within the wider ‘drugscape’ of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, and sets out a new vision for a holistic public health-led approach to drugs policy at a UK-wide level [Press release here]  | RSPH and FPH, UK

Roadmaps to regulation: New Psychoactive Substances, 2016 (PDF)
This report aims to bring together the best available evidence on the regulation of psychoactive drugs in a rigorous, yet accessible way. In part, it is an invitation to think differently about drug policy options | Beckley Foundation, UK

Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties: Strategies for Reform, 2016
As jurisdictions enact reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively “medical and scientific,” tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. How might governments and the UN system address these growing tensions in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and help to modernize the drug treaty regime itself, and thereby reinforce the UN pillars of human rights, development, peace and security, and the rule of law? | Transform et al, International

Do no harm – Health, human rights and people who use drugs, 2016
Evidence supports the need for a shift in the global approach to drug use. In this report, Do no harm: health, human rights and people who use drugs, UNAIDS shows what works to reduce the impact of HIV and other harms related to drug use. Countries that have moved away from laws and policies that are harmful to people who use drugs and that have increased investment in harm reduction have reduced new HIV infections and improved health outcomes. These policies also deliver broader social benefits, such as lower levels of drug-related crime and reduced pressure on health-care and criminal justice systems | UNAIDS, Switzerland

Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties: Strategies for Reform, 2016
As jurisdictions enact reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively “medical and scientific,” tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. How might governments and the UN system address these growing tensions in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and help to modernize the drug treaty regime itself, and thereby reinforce the UN pillars of human rights, development, peace and security, and the rule of law? | Transform, WOLA, TNI et al, International

A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Across the Globe: 2nd edition, 2016
This edition builds on the 2012 publication, providing updates on the jurisdictions originally covered and highlighting a number of new countries that have adopted a non-criminal justice response to the possession of drugs for personal use | Release, UK

A regulated cannabis market for the UK, 2016
The most comprehensive framework for how a regulated cannabis market could work in the UK has been published today by an independent panel of experts set up by the Liberal Democrats. This report sets out how the legal production and supply of cannabis could work in the UK. It was established in the autumn by Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Norman Lamb MP. The expert panel was chaired by Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst from Transform Drug Policy Foundation | Liberal Democrats, UK

After the Drug Wars, 2016 (PDF)
In this report the Expert Group on Economics of Drug Policy set out a framework for the future of international drug policy based on Sustainable Development Goals | LSE, UK

Drug Crop Production, Poverty, and Development, 2016, (PDF)
As member states of the United Nations take stock of the drug control system, a number of debates have emerged among governments about how to balance international drug laws with human rights, public health, alternatives to incarceration, and experimentation with regulation. This series intends to provide a primer on why governments must not turn a blind eye to pressing human rights and public health impacts of current drug policies | Open Society Foundations, USA