This article originally appeared on the website for Release UK.
'A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe' is the first report to support Release's campaign 'Drugs - It’s Time for Better Laws'. This report looks at over 20 countries that have adopted some form of decriminalisation of drug possession, including some States that have only decriminalised cannabis possession. The main aim of the report was to look at the existing research to establish whether the adoption of a decriminalised policy led to significant increases in drug use - the simple answer is that it did not. This then begs the question that if the model of enforcement adopted has little impact on levels of use what is the point in pursuing a criminal justice approach which carries significant harms for individuals?
As stated, this new report supports our campaign which was launched in June 2011 and saw the organisation write to David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, calling for a review of our current drug policies and promoting the introduction of decriminalisation of drug possession. The letter was supported by high profile individuals including Sting, Richard Branson, Caroline Lucas MP and Baroness Meacher.
The campaign will progress this year with the publication of three reports: the first, this paper on decriminalisation, demonstrates that the law enforcement model adopted has little impact on the levels of drug use within a country and yet the criminalisation of people who use drugs causes significant harms to the individual and society. The second paper will be launched in autumn 2012 and will look at the disproportionate policing and prosecution of drug possession offences in the UK. The final report to be launched in early 2013 will look at the crude economic costs associated with policing and prosecuting the possession of drugs in the UK.