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HASC meeting in Cambridge March 2015

by CanSS, posted 24 03 2015

Home Affairs Select Committee 12th March 2015

I attended the Home Affairs Select Committee meeting at Homerton College Cambridge on 12th March 2015. The stated aim of the meeting was to listen to speakers and report to the Government so they could take the message to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs in 2016.

I could see the panels, three in total, were comprised of numerous well-known members of the legalisation lobby. By my simple maths 70% of the committee members want drugs legalised; which hardly presented a balanced view and message.

What was interesting was the constant use of the words “reform” and “regulate”. I came to the conclusion that those words were being used by legalisers, incorrectly, as synonyms for ‘weaken’ and ‘legalise’. Clearly they are afraid of coming right out with the ‘legalise’ word because, I suggest, in their hearts they know the majority of the public don’t want it.

Julian Huppert MP wheeled out Portugal as a model to follow. Portugal is a favourite with the legalisers quoting addiction numbers are down. Well they may be, but the number of cannabis users has increased[1] he went to state that drugs “Are all harmful substances” which raises the question of why he wants more people to have access to them.

Dame Eliza Mannigham-Buller was not present but was quoted as saying The “War on Drugs isn’t working and the expenditure has achieved nothing much”. Well the ‘War on Terrorism’ hasn’t been won either for all its expenditure and use of multi-national armies and that was her remit.

Of course the Netherlands was mentioned as another good example of how reform and regulation (weaken & legalise) can work. But they failed to talk about the recent tightening of the law in the Netherlands. I asked the panel; on which Professor Nutt was a member:

“Considering that according to Prof Nutt, cannabis scored highest on his ‘harm index’”… at that point he started to inflate himself ready to reject my comment, until I said:

“I have the chapter with me if you want to read it” [2]

“Would the committee consider making cannabis with a THC content above 15% a class A drug as they have in the Netherlands?”

That question was not answered. I thought that was interesting because in my opinion reforms can strengthen or weaken something.


During the day the usual hackneyed terms were trotted out: Prohibition didn’t work (displaying a total lack of knowledge of the subject); war on drugs (empty political statement same as war on terrorism); reform; & regulate.

The most sensible talks came from Sarah Graham, Neil McKegany and Chief Constable Andy Bliss of Hertfordshire Constabulary. I hope their common sense experienced-based voices aren’t lost in the muddle-headed contradictory babble of the legalisers; the ones who will be blissfully unaffected if they get their wish.

I fear there will not be another opportunity to put the facts to this Government to prevent weakening our laws. Lynne Featherstone MP in her keynote speech said the Government would work on an evidence-based policy, but I’m not holding my breath. I take a small comfort from the fact the Government is too preoccupied with the election to tinker with its domestic law. Besides, if the polls are to be believed the legalising Lib Dems will exist in name only after May; thereby sweeping aside any political support for legalising drugs.


[1] European School Survey Project on Alcohol & Other Drugs 2014

[2] Drugs without the Hot Air 2012 p75

Party policy on drugs


Nigel Price  -  Cannabis Skunk Sense

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