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Regulation2019-10-01T16:47:49+00:00

People have always used drugs. They always will.

But drugs can be dangerous, and that danger is made worse by leaving the trade in the hands of criminal networks.

Many things we use, consume or take part in are risky or dangerous. Regulation is about managing risk and offers a tried and tested means of protecting people – particularly the young and vulnerable.

We have improved safety and reduced risk in so many areas through regulation – driving cars, chemicals, food, water supply, medicines, air quality. We need to do the same for drugs.

How to regulate

Regulation does not mean a free-for-all. We support carefully designed licensing systems aimed to protect consumers from harm and promote fairness. Drugs are widely available right now in every corner of our globe, to anyone of any age. There are no manufacturing standards, no consumer protection, and no safety information or warnings. No one really knows what they are buying, the risks they face or how much might kill them.

Transform’s 5 models of regulation set out a spectrum of licensing controls, which reflect the levels of risk associated with the drugs in questions. Regulation is responsible, pragmatic and will save lives.

U-Curve of drug policy showing how regulation best protects public health

[Graph] Adapted from an original concept by Dr. John Marks

Legal regulation is the middle ground position between hardline supporters of the failed war on drugs and libertarians who believe drugs should be freely available.

At either end of this spectrum are unregulated markets. Our models of control are based on the belief that both of these options create unacceptably high social and health costs.

This is because, at both ends, those in control of the trade are motivated almost exclusively by profit.

Case Study

Canada Legalises Cannabis – What You Need to Know

As of Wednesday 17th October, 2018 Canadians can legally purchase cannabis for recreational use from licensed shops supplied by government regulated companies.Transform Drug Policy Foundation, advised the cannabis task force, both Houses of the Canadian Parliament and a number of Provinces to help them develop the regulations, based on our book ‘How to Regulate Cannabis: A Practical Guide’.

Case Study

Cannabis legalisation in Uruguay: public health and safety over private profit

In July 2017 Uruguay became the first county in the world to introduce a nationwide legally regulated retail market for the production and supply of cannabis for non-medical use, and it intends to set a good example.

Doctor.

Medical prescriptions – for registered users of drugs such as injectable heroin

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Specialist Pharmacists.

Sales to registered adult users – for drugs such as amphetamine, powder cocaine and MDMA

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Licensed Retailers.

Sales to adult users for drugs such as cannabis

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Licensed Premises.

Sale and consumption for adult users – similar to Dutch ‘coffee shops’ – for drugs such as cannabis

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Unlicensed Premises.

Sale of lower-risk products such as caffeinated drinks and coca tea

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Doctor.

Medical prescriptions – for registered users of drugs such as injectable heroin

Specialist Pharmacists.

Sales to registered adult users – for drugs such as amphetamine, powder cocaine and MDMA

Licensed Retailers.

Sales to adult users for drugs such as cannabis

Licensed Premises.

Sale and consumption for adult users – similar to Dutch ‘coffee shops’ – for drugs such as cannabis

Unlicensed Premises.

Sale of lower-risk products such as caffeinated drinks and coca tea

Find out more
Find out more
Find out more
Find out more
Find out more

Why we need to regulate.

Drugs have been prohibited globally for over 50 years under a series of UN treaties. But prohibition has failed and drug markets have expanded every year to meet growing demand.

Regulation offers real benefits to people around the world

Promoting Health.

Prohibition makes drug use dirty and dangerous. The number of people dying from drug related overdoses, blood borne viruses like HIV and drug market violence continues to soar. Millions in poorer countries are denied access to pain relief like morphine because their governments fear powerful legal drugs will leach into the illegal market. Through regulation, developing countries could access the medicines they need and we can treat drug use as a health issue.

Improving Justice.

All people who use drugs are criminalised. This adds to the burden of stigmatisation and creates further obstacles to medical care and support. Regulation would ensure that people whose drug use is problematic wouldn’t have the additional problem of a criminal record. Our prison population would plummet.

Protecting Young people.

There is no protection for young people – drugs are available in every town and village and can be delivered to your door like a pizza. There are no age controls in the illegal market – the criminal trade doesn’t ask for ID. Regulation would make it much harder for young people to access drugs.

Improving Security.

Organised criminals have been gifted a trade worth $320 billion a year. Their wealth and firepower represents a genuine threat to international security. Frequently violent and operating with virtual impunity, organised crime uses its huge profits to corrupt officials, undermine institutions, and expand other illegal activities. Regulation would significantly reduce their opportunity for making money from drugs.

Promoting Development.

Criminal profiteers prey on poor people in developing countries, willing to risk working in the illegal drugs trade as a means of survival. A few get rich, most simply scratch a living, and many lose their lives in this often violent industry. Regulation would allow communities and industries to develop peacefully.

Protecting Human rights.

Abuses of human rights – from violence, to slavery and human trafficking – can easily become the norm in an unregulated criminal trade. Declaring a ‘war’ on drug supply, and drug users, often makes things worse – providing cover for other abuses by governments that include denial of healthcare, torture, arbitrary justice, and the use of beatings and the death penalty. Regulation would reduce the incentives for abuse in a shrinking criminal market, and allow for greater scrutiny and accountability of state abuses.

Releasing Resources.

Policing the drug war costs us a fortune in money and lives. Global enforcement costs $100 billion per year, which is close to the global aid budget. These wasted resources could be spent on health, education and protecting communities and young people. A legal, strictly controlled drug market would generate tax revenue and create jobs in often marginalised communities.

Consultancy.

Drug policy is now a fast developing environment – new products continue to emerge, new markets are opening, new initiatives are being trialed and the global industry will adapt accordingly. Drug policy changes will affect everyone. Transform can help you keep up to date. We can tailor briefings to your sector and we can help you with scenario planning.

Transform offers a full range of consultancy services, including training, research and expert advice on drug regulation and how it will impact you, your organisation, your clients, and your country. Call us today to discuss your needs on 0117 325 0295 or email info@transformdrugs.org.

After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation.

Read all about our vision for a world with legally regulated drugs

“Drugs should still be regulated, and the argument for decriminalising them is clearly made by Stephen Rolles [in an article that summarises ‘Blueprint’] in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal.”

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians

Find out more

“Transform presents the most clear-headed and rational approach to the issue of drugs. It cuts through the fear and prejudice by using evidence-based arguments”.

Mary Ann Sieghart, BBC, former Assistant Editor, The Times

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