A report from the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that recommended the decriminalisation of drugs will remain the only one in the council’s history not to be released to the public.
The three-year freedom of information (FOI) campaign to have the 2016 report released, spearheaded by journalist Mattha Busby, has ultimately been shot down by the government following a recent tribunal.
According to reporting from The Times, the tribunal concluded that the report should remain under wraps because the policies discussed in the paper remained under consideration and there was, therefore, no obligation for them to be made public under FOI law.
While this may suggest the government is actively considering decriminalisation of drugs in the UK, experts suggest this is ‘just further evidence’ of the government ignoring evidence-based policy suggestions when it comes to drugs as well as aiming to shut down the debate altogether.
The government’s recent victory in ensuring the report from its own expert advisory group remains suppressed is just the latest chapter in a story that has been developing for years.
In late 2016, the ACMD submitted a report into the ‘Interaction and relationship between the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016’ to the then recently instated Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.
The report suggested amending part of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) which makes it a criminal offence to possess controlled drugs, creating a policy more in line with the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA), which doesn’t criminalise possession.
It argued that if there were grounds to consider that the possession of controlled substances was not an offence under the PSA, then those grounds should also apply to the MDA. It went on to suggest that, by diverting drug users away from the criminal justice system, harm related to drug use could be significantly reduced.
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