I wrote yesterday about the mess that is drugs policy from the British Government. This was amidst the backdrop of the death of a 21-year old male in The Cause in Tottenham, north London on Saturday night. I was particularly scathing about politicians and their utter failure to deal with what has been a problem for decades.
Well, it turned out I was slightly off. It turns out that some politicians have been trying to get things done on this front. Back in May, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee – yes, they’re the same people who recently delivered a report on the inequalities in streaming, too – called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to introduce drug-checking services. These exist in a number of other countries and basically allow people to get their drugs tested to see exactly what’s in them – they can then make the decision whether to take them or not.
The committee heard evidence that it could actually reduce the amounts of illegal drugs being consumed. When people discover what’s really in their pills, or find out just what that line of cocaine actually consists of, many will decide not to take them and dispose of them instead.
Indeed, the International Journal of Drug Policy heard a report that more than half of those whose sample was not what they were told it was then made the decision to get rid of it.
Those who do make the decision to proceed can be given specialist advice – for example, they might be told not to mix it with alcohol, and the reasons why. Now given that the government simply will not contemplate just legalising drugs, this seems the best possible response right now. But the government has yet to make any kind of response to this report at all.
It isn’t entirely clear who would directly have responsibility for such a policy either. The only thing I can establish quite confidently is that this is a reserved matter – meaning the British government would have to legislate in this area for the whole of the UK. And as drugs policy seems to eminate from the Home Office than the Department of Health, that suggests it would be a matter between local drug testing centres and the police.
So yet another sensible proposal for reducing the death toll from drug use just gets bounced around aimlessly whilst no one does anything. Sounds depressingly familar, doesn’t it?