Drug Policy

Drug Policy

November 12, 2005

in Drug Policy

Drug policy, whether or not you use drugs, is important to you.

It’s important because the UK spends £13 billion of taxpayers’ money annually on trying to win the drug war.

It’s important to you because there are numerous countries around the world that are being deliberately destabilised by drug dealers in order to make it easier to produce and smuggle drugs, such as Afghanistan and Mexico, and neither we nor anyone else can negotiate or protect our national interests in countries where the government has no control.

It’s important because in the UK, a black person is twelve times more likely to go to prison than a white person for the same non-violent drug offence.

It’s important because many “illegal” drugs have recognised medicinal value:

LSD can cure alcoholism.
Ketamine can cure depression.
MDMA (Ecstasy) can cure post traumatic stress disorder,
Cannabis can treat pain, nausea, and reduce the effects of various conditions such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

…but we cannot explore or develop these uses because the government wants to stop people “getting high”.

Drug policy is about human rights, and if you believe that racism, murder and gang violence are unacceptable, then you should support drug law reform.

Addressing the SSDP National Conference in 2009.

Addressing SSDP UK National Conference in 2009.

From 2008 to about 2014, drug law reform was my big thing. I ended up co-founding three national organisations:

Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK: A national chapter of the American organisation, founded in 2008. I served as External Relations Officer and built the largest university society at the University of Manchester (I think we topped out at about 600 members), but ended my involvement over an internal matter in 2010. SSDP UK continues to operate.


Re:Vision Drug Policy Network: After leaving SSDP UK, I realised that there was no mass movement people interested in drug law reform could join if they weren’t a student, so I co-founded RDPN in 2011. We had some success but we were also all in our early 20s and the pressure of trying

RDPN banner

Outside UMSU in 2011.

to run a national charity with limited experience while finishing our degrees caused us to burn out. We’ve tried to place it in the hands of other volunteers but none have worked out so far.

Six years on, there is still no mass movement in the UK dedicated to drug law reform, and I still have control of all of our internal documents and materials, domain name and website. I will happily hand over and provide advice, support and contacts to anyone with the qualifications and experience to take Re:Vision on, so if you are that person, please contact me.

NORML UK: The British chapter of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in the United States. I fell into the cannabis community after I blogged about the appalling racist, homophobic blogposts written by Peter Reynolds, the leader of CLEAR – Cannabis Law Reform, a cannabis political party. Peter Reynolds responded by making increasingly intense personal and public attacks on me and reporting medical cannabis patients who had also criticised him to the police. The Executive Committee of CLEAR, unable to control him or the scandal, resigned en masse and founded NORML UK in March 2012, and invited me to sit on the board.

Bedrocan protest on College Green outside Parliament in 2014.

Bedrocan protest on College Green outside Parliament in 2014.

I served as Press Officer, Secretary, and then as my interests in other areas began to increase, stepped down and became an Adviser. Unfortunately the cannabis community has very few systems of accountability and there were successive scandals of unvetted board members acting unprofessionally and falling out with other activists and groups. Eventually a group split off to form the NORML UK Women’s Alliance, which I also advised. I finally called it a day on drug law reform when NORML WA changed their name to The Lady Gardeners, which I thought was a very silly name that I didn’t want to be associated with.

NORML UK continues to exist but acts mainly to distribute funds to other active groups.

An important side-note: Peter Reynolds, leader of a substantially reduced and disgraced CLEAR, continued to attack both myself and NORML, which ultimately culminated in his issuing libel lawsuits in the High Court against myself and three other activists in February 2013. Being as everything I had said was true, I chose to defend myself as a litigant-in-person, and what ensued was a 18 month legal battle that Peter Reynolds chose to settle just before a date was set for trial. As I have several hundred pages of documentation and screenshots of evidence, I do intend to eventually write a book about my experiences. Provisionally entitled Cannabis and Conmen, I’ve written 20,000 words to date but I’m waiting for technology to catch up with Facebook so I can access the remaining evidence I need to finish the story. In the meantime, I have written an overview and collated all of my writing on Peter Reynolds and CLEAR.

Below is everything that I wrote for all three organisations on the topic of drugs, drug policy, and drug law reform. You can also read several items about drug policy in my media section.

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Peter Reynolds campaigning in the Corby by-electionIn response to my article on CLEAR’s claims that medical cannabis was now legal in the UK, Peter Lunk, a cannabis activist from The Netherlands, shared a copy in a Facebook group of which Peter Reynolds is a member. Peter Reynolds responded to questions about the statement from the Home Office by claiming that I am “stalking” him (I think it’s the other way round), and that we were all wasting his time and to stay out of his business. Because apparently legal medical cannabis in the UK is exclusively a matter for CLEAR.

Anyway, Peter Lunk tried to post a copy of this conversation on Flickr, but Peter Reynolds managed to have it taken down. I have therefore placed a copy below.

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Can Russell Brand Cure Cancer?

November 23, 2012

Originally published on the NORML UK blog on August 24th, 2012. By Sarah McCulloch THERE’s been a bit of a stir in our little world recently. First, Russell Brand, heroin addict-turned-funny-man decided to put out a documentary saying that abstinence-only programmes are the only way to deal with addiction and methadone treatment for heroin users […]

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Some pieces on drugs – March 2012

March 31, 2012

This blog seems to be getting a bit off-track on other stuff while I tone down my blogging in order to write my dissertation, so I should document some blog posts I posted on the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network recently: Ending the drug war: what we’ve done and what we’re doing In January 2011, I […]

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Peter Reynolds: An Overview

March 30, 2012

Peter Reynolds is the leader of CLEAR – Cannabis Law Reform, a political party which formed from the ashes of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance. He was elected in February 2011, and believes that he is some kind of messianic saviour of the cannabis legalisation movement. To say that others dispute this is something of an […]

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Are There are More Interesting Statistics Than Medical Marijuana?

November 7, 2011

Many cannabis campaigners like to throw around the fact that 15 out of 50 states have medical marijuana laws. However, as a friend pointed out to me, “To me, that simply means that 35 American states don’t have medical marijuana.” It’s not, on the face of it, an incredible statistic except to people who genuinely […]

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Who are Re:Vision Drug Policy Manchester?

April 5, 2011

Originally published in Student Direct. Re:Vision Drug Policy Manchester is a student society that is now in its third year – we were previously known as Manchester Students for Sensible Drug Policy, but are now affiliated to the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network. We campaign for effective drug policy based in human rights and scientific evidence, […]

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Mephedrone 101 – Common Questions and Answers

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I get a reasonable amount of search engine traffic to my blog, and one of the most popular cluster of search terms that people search for is on mephedrone (the others being: cool charities, homosexuality and Bah’ai, homosexuality and Sikhism, Christopher Hitchens, and an endless variety of angsty questions about police raids.) None of the […]

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What is the Purpose of Drug Policy? Some Data (and Some Analysis!)

October 20, 2010

Last week, I was at Lancaster University to help give a talk on drug policy to a group of third year criminology students taught by Fiona Measham. One of the things that we did was to hand out pieces of paper and ask the lecture theatre if they could define the purpose of drug policy. […]

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1784: The Year Prohibition Ended

October 11, 2010

In the late seventeenth century, a new substance was brought back from the edges of the British empire. Sociable, pleasant and healthier than tobacco, it spread first among the aristocracy, but eventually became popular with the masses, to such an extent that, although the government tried to stamp out its consumption, a massive international smuggling […]

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“The Chemists are Winning”: The Rise of Mephedrone and Legal Highs

October 4, 2010

Originally written for Student Direct. In April 2010, after a media storm, the British government passed legislation to classify mephedrone as a Class B drug. Mephedrone is a stimulant somewhat similar in effects to MDMA and cocaine, and is chemically based on cathinones found in the African stimulant Khat, but which was sufficiently chemically different […]

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