QAAD has argued over many years for the development of a public health and well-being framework, rather than one led too strongly by criminal justice. We have been particularly concerned with treatment issues, and have responded to government consultations, e.g. arguing against the withdrawal of benefits as a sanction for non co-operation.
In 2013, QAAD prepared a briefing paper on the decriminalisation of illicit drugs, which examined the issues and evidence on this subject 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 of each individual country. However, it set out ways of enabling a more health-led approach that could be adopted immediately, whether the current legal framework is amended or not. The paper can be read online (see ‘Resources’, below).
QAAD is monitoring evidence from other jurisdictions as it emerges. Trustees continue to focus on influencing drug policy towards more health-based treatment and support 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, together with the current lack of a ring-fenced budget, has lead to reductions in services for drug users and their close others.
Our values as Quakers lead us to take particular note of the evidence that drug problems tend to be greater in more unequal communities and societies. Progress on equality would help progress on these issues, particularly for drug users within the most disadvantaged groups.
Although the main focus of our public issues work has been on illicit drugs, our concern extends to prescribed drugs. Friends have contacted QAAD to describe their experiences of problems with these, including dependency. ‘Close others’ of people with these problems have also attended our gatherings, and individuals from both groups have written for our QAADRANT newsletter. 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.
Click to read: QAAD briefing on decriminalisation