Public Issues: Illicit drugs
QAAD has been particularly concerned with treatment issues, and has contributed some submissions to government consultations – for example, arguing against the withdrawal of benefits as a sanction for non co-operation. In more general terms, we have argued for a health and well-being framework rather than one led too strongly by criminal justice.
In 2013, QAAD prepared a briefing paper on the decriminalisation of illicit drugs, which examines the issues and evidence on this subject. Whilst it did not take a fixed position (finding that policies need to be developed carefully and targeted at tackling the specific drug issues of each individual country), it set out ways of enabling a more health-led approach that could be adopted now, whether the current legal framework is amended or not.
QAAD is monitoring evidence from other countries as it emerges. Trustees continue to focus on influencing drug policy towards more health-based provision as regards drug use and misuse, and supports the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee of 2012/13 that there should be a Royal Commission to examine drugs policy within the UK.
A more fully developed system of education, advice and treatment is a central element to any progress, and we are also concerned that austerity and a non ring-fenced budget may lead to reductions in services for drug users and their close others.
Our values as Quakers also lead us to take particular note of the evidence that drug problems tend to be greater in more unequal societies. Progress on equality would help progress on these issues, particularly for drug users in the most disadvantaged groups.
Click to read the paper: QAAD briefing on decriminalisation
Although the main focus of our public issues work has been on illicit drugs, our concern does include prescribed drugs, and QAAD has also been contacted on occasion by Friends who have had problems with these, including dependency. Friends who are ‘close others’ of people with this experience have also attended our gatherings, and individuals from both groups have written for our magazine ‘QAADRANT.’ This has been very helpful in raising awareness, knowledge and understanding about the subject, and in helping those who are affected to feel that they can make supportive connections with other Friends. We aim to keep abreast of developments in this field.