100 Views

Norman Baker’s “UK drug policy reform”

Having recently resigned from his post as home office minister, Norman Baker, the Liberal democrat MP for Lewes, gave a lecture at Sussex titled “UK Drug Policy Reform”.

The talk was organised by the Lib Dem society, and covered many of the misconceptions surrounding this topic, as well as possible ways that it could be improved. States in America such as Colorado have recently voted to legalise cannabis, and Nick Clegg has said that he would support decriminalisation of the drug. This shows that support for rethinking the way in which society deals with drugs is growing, and this discussion has never been more relevant.

Baker worked on and published a report into the effects of drug legalisation while working at the home office, with the findings of this report and resulting disagreements with Conservative home secretary Theresa May eventually leading to his resignation a couple of weeks ago.

The lecture focused on this report, and the main thing that it discovered was that drug use is not affected by the severity of laws. For example, Portugal has decriminalised all drug use, and has seen addiction rates halve since the policy was adopted. In addition, countries

such as Croatia with more severe legislation have seen relativity little change in drug use as a result. It is not therefore clear that the “tough love” approach the best way to conduct drug policy.

So if tough laws don’t help, then what should we be doing to combat Britain’s drug problem? The solution according to Baker is: treat drugs as a health issue, rather than a criminal issue. He suggested that we allow cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes, as well as providing proper rehabilitation programs for those suffering from drug addiction. He did however dismiss arguments

for legalization of drugs. Many would raise concerns about the large amount of taxpayers money used to police drugs, and the dangers of an unregulated underground trade. He did acknowledge that there may be logic to this position, but that it would be too risky, making clear that he was in favour of a health based approach, not full legalization.

The talk wasn’t without its controversy, however. At one point, the talk was interrupted by protestors in support of free education, their anger directed at the Liberal Democrats’ U-turn on tuition fees since entering government.

 

Fraser Coppin

 

Comment: ‘Decision of the campaign for Free Education to disturb the talk was misguided’

 

The Campaign for Free Education made a mistake in protesting against Liberal Democrat Norman Baker MP during his talk on drugs policy on the 13th of November.

I’m not a Lib Dem and never have been. I remain furious for their betrayal of hundreds of thousands of students in the Parliamentary vote to raise tuition fees in December 2010. I was protesting for free education at the demonstration for free education last Wednesday in London. But the decision of the Campaign for Free Education (or whoever made the decision on it’s behalf) to disturb the talk was misguided and knee jerk.

Yes, a campaign for free education must feel a certain urge to step in if a Coalition grandee strolls onto campus to talk to students. But the circumstances were simply not right. The leaflets handed to us by the campaign members were entitled “Why you shouldn’t listen to Norman Baker”, citing the failures of the Coalition in representing student’s interests in Parliament as reasons not to listen.

But Baker’s talk was on how the criminalisation of drugs and drug laws in general in the UK are not working, and how they are failing our society along with thousands of people with drug problems.

This is following on from an international study Baker oversaw in the Home Office, which concluded that there is no correlation between the criminalisation of drugs and a decrease in their use.This is something worth listening to. 

The war on drugs has failed, and although he may have some dodgy friends in Westminster and failed us in the past, this specific issue must be debated and talked about without interruption from hot heads.

Sussex’s greatest strength as a student body is a fervent political voice and passion for campaigning for what’s right. By disturbing the talk, a Lib Dem Society event, rights to free speech and free expression were briefly suspended. But no matter how briefly it may have been, we can never let it happen at Sussex.

 

George Leith

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
692 views1
Campus News
692 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
152 views
Arts
152 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
178 views
Arts
178 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
166 views
Arts
166 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
212 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
198 views
Arts
198 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
317 views
Campus News
317 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
157 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
425 views
Arts
425 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
197 views
Arts
197 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
296 views
Artist Focus
296 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
201 views
Interview
201 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
281 views
Arts
281 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
316 views
Arts
316 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
358 views
Arts
358 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
256 views
Artist Focus
256 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
267 views
Books
267 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
347 views
Science
347 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
327 views
News
327 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…