Drug Policy

British Prison Governors Want Prohibition-Based Policy for Heroin, Meth, Other Drugs Reviewed


Credit: Hendrike/wikicomms

The British Prison Governors Association (PGA) has called for a review of a "prohibition-based" drug policy for Class A drugs, arguing that the current British drug policy increases the number of prisoners and victims of crime.

From the BBC

PGA president Eoin McLennan-Murray said it believed "a substantial segment of the prison population have been convicted of low-level acquisitive crimes simply to fund addiction".

"The current war on drugs is successful in creating further victims of acquisitive crime, increasing cost to the taxpayer to accommodate a higher prison population and allowing criminals to control and profit from the sale and distribution of Class A drugs," he said.

"A fundamental review of the prohibition-based policy is desperately required and this is why the Prison Governors Association are keen to support the Count the Costs initiative."

In the U.K. illegal drugs are classified as either Class A, Class B, or Class C. The penalties for possession as well as supply and production are outlined below: 

Credit: Gov.uk

Cannabis used to be a Class C drug. However, the British government decided to have it reclassified as a Class B drug despite Professor David Nutt, the British government's senior drug policy adviser, saying that there was no empirical evidence to justify the change. Professor Nutt was later dismissed from his advisory position.

The British Home Office is currently conducting an international study on drug policy. Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected recommendations from some Members of Parliament to explore the possibility of drug decriminalization.

A spokesman from the Home Office responded to the PGA's call for a policy rethink:

Responding to the PGA's call, a spokesman said drugs were illegal because "they destroy lives and blight communities".

"The government's drug strategy is clear and our balanced approach combines effective enforcement, efforts to reduce demand and the promotion of robust treatment programmes," he added.

Evidently the Home Office makes an exception for alcohol, which Professor Nutt has said is more harmful than heroin

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  1. Responding to the PGA's call, a spokesman said drugs were illegal because "they destroy lives and blight communities".

    Breaking up families and sending people to prison doesn't?

    1. To prohibitionists, that just shows how bad drugs are. Cue the "circular logic works because" circle.

      1. Ah yes.

        Premise: Drugs are bad.

        People who are caught with drugs are thrown into prison, breaking up families and depriving them of the main bread winner.

        Conclusion: Drugs are bad.

    2. What bug me most about that statement is the agency that it ascribes to drugs. Drugs don't do anything. People do things with drugs. And sometimes the things that the people using drugs do can ruin their lives and the lives of others. But people are so used to giving the agency to the drugs themselves that they believe that the drugs cause these problems and not the users and people trying to stop the users. So it makes it difficult to convince people that the drug policies are actually what causes most of the harm (at least the harm to others) associated with drug use.

      1. Pretty much, everyone says they have seen drugs destroy peoples lives. I think either they destroy them by taking them like you said, or in other cases they take them as a coping mechanism for a life that is already messed up.

        1. The vast majority of drug users live quiet productive lives.

          Just as the vast majority of alcohol users do the same.

          To say drugs turn anyone who uses them into a junky is to say alcohol turns anyone who drinks into a skid row bum.

          If drug users could come out of the closet without fear of legal retribution, I think most people would be shocked to find they have close friends, coworkers and family who have used drugs for years while leading productive lives.

          1. true I probably didn't word that correctly as I agree with everything you said.

  2. Yeah and if you make fewer acts crimes you'll have fewer criminals, but isn't that cheating?

    1. No more than not counting a murder as homicide if there isn't a conviction out of it.

  3. So basically they want to rename the prisons "rehab clinics". Not sure that is much of an improvement. Until they go to full decriminalization, nothing is going to change much.

  4. Until they go to full decriminalization legalization, nothing is going to change much.


  5. I was talking to some older conservative friends of my grandmother and they asked me what i thought of medical marijuana. I said that I didn't support medical marijuana i supported full legalization of drugs including manufacture, sell, and consumption. He said he's seen drugs ruin peoples lives and maybe marijuana isn't going to kill you right away but it leads people to drugs that will. They were nice people and I could tell they tensed up a bit when I said that so I didn't press it, but they thought I was only talking about mj, I wonder what they would have done if they had known I meant all drugs including making prescription OTC.

    1. He said he's seen drugs ruin peoples lives and maybe marijuana isn't going to kill you right away but it leads people to drugs that will.

      Only because it is a gateway to the black market.

      1. yea I was mainly pointing out that I didn't have the balls to bring up the many anti-drug war arguments partly because they were nice and polite and partly because I didn't want to embarrass my grandmother. It was kind of a confession i guess, I feel guilty that I didn't try hard enough to win them over lol.

        1. For many it is a moral issue. Drugs are bad, just as stealing is bad or assault is bad. For those people there really isn't much of a chance to win them over.
          I try with the "Do you own your own body, and if so what right does anyone have in telling you what you may or may not put into it?" argument. If that fails I usually give up.

    2. But what did they think of medical marijuana, which is what they asked you about?

  6. Well now that makes a lot of sense dude.


  7. Their drug classifications make no sense. They appear to have been delineated by people who know nothing at all about drugs. Amphetamines are listed in Class B, but MDMA (methyldioxymethylamphetamine) and methamphetamine are Class A. I'm going to count cocaine (both crack and original recipe) as an amphetamine too. Technically, it's not, but by mechanism and effects it's basically the same thing. Barbituates and benzos basically do the same thing, but they are in different classes. It's all clearly arbitrary.

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