What is our perspective as Quakers?
QAAD has argued over many years for the development of a public health and harm reduction framework in relation to drug use and misuse, rather than one led primarily by criminal justice. Our Quaker values lead us to take particular note of evidence which confirms that drug-related problems tend to be greater in the most unequal communities and societies. A more fully developed system of education, advice and treatment are central elements for future progress. We are particularly concerned that the impact of austerity has lead to signficant cuts to support services for drug users and their families.
Illegal and Illicit Drugs
QAAD’s briefing paper on decriminalisation of illegal drugs (2013) examined the issues and evidence in detail. The paper did not take a fixed position, finding that policies need to be developed carefully and targeted at tackling the specific drug issues in individual countries. However, it did set out ways of how a health-led approach could be adopted immediately, whether or not the current legal framework is amended. QAAD continues to monitor emerging evidence from jurisdictions which have decriminalised or legalised illegal drugs in recent years. The 2013 paper can be read here.
Legal and Prescribed drugs
Our scope of concern extends to include legal and prescribed drugs, such as pain killers, antidepressants and nicotine. Friends have described problems they have experienced when using these, including dependency. ‘Close others’ have also attended QAAD’s meetings, and both groups have written articles for QAADRANT. This has been very helpful in raising awareness, knowledge and understanding about these issues, and encouraged those affected to make supportive connections with each other. We will continue to monitor developments in this field.