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Anna McMorrin MP's Response to UK Government Drug Policy Strategy

September 21, 2018

I recently received an email from a resident in Cardiff North highlighting the issues with the UK Government's drug policy reform. Below is my response.

Many thanks for your email in relation to drug policy reform. Since you wrote to me, the drug policy strategy was announced, and it is becoming more and more clear that this strategy has not moved us on any further, just that it now works within reduced public health budgets.

You are right in what you say, the tide is turning, and some major U-turns have recently been announced in relation to the UK Government’s drug legislation here in the UK.

My Labour colleagues and I supported the Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill and I hope that compassion can be shown by the UK Government for those suffering in the same way as little Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, moving forward.

The Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott MP has called out Ministers to drop the heavy-handed and bureaucratic approach to health-related drug use and called out their failure on their war on drugs. It was wrong to force those suffering from chronic pain and seizures to make a choice between suffering a life of pain while acting within the confines of the law or breaking the law and feeling relief.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to undertake a review of our current legislation. A Labour government would allow the legal prescription of cannabis oil for medical purposes and would review our drug policy to address all issues of public health. Labour would also expand drug treatment facilities as a better way to cut the numbers of addicts than the criminal justice system.

The status quo isn’t working, and I welcome the recent launch of Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform, a forum where members can debate and shape Labour’s future drugs policy, recognising the need for change. The campaign will look at an alternative and a more progressive approach to this complex policy issue, from a harm reduction perspective, as governments around the world have been moving towards.

In order to reduce harm and protect communities from drug abuse we must focus our debate on tackling the organised crime networks which profit from and proliferate the drug trade. We need to focus less on the criminal justice system for individuals, and more about how to reduce the risk to those suffering from an addiction and ease the pressure on our already over-stretched public services.

The UK Government can’t achieve this if they continue to cut services available to individuals and the more they disinvest in treatment, the more they put people at risk of an early and unavoidable death. A coordinated harm-reduction strategy needs to be prioritised and I look forward to the opportunities to work alongside my Labour colleagues to highlight this in the House of Commons.

Thanks again for taking the time to write to me about this very important issue and if there is anything further I can assist you with then please do not hesitate to get back in touch.