The UK House of Commons Home Affairs Committee released a drugs report on August 31, 2023 that calls for a major overhaul of UK drug laws and endorses harm reduction policies including drug safety checking and safe consumption sites.
According to the Committee news release ("Reform law and expand treatment options to tackle cost of drugs on society – Home Affairs Committee finds," August 31, 2023):
"In a report published today, the Committee calls for a new legislative and funding framework that enables practical, risk-reducing interventions such as establishing a pilot drug consumption facility and drug testing at festivals. It further calls from a move away from an abstinence-only approach towards harm reduction with improved cross-working between police, health and social services.
"The Committee found that law enforcement should continue to do all it can to stamp out the illicit trade of controlled drugs, but will need to be bolstered by a stronger public health response that helps people escape drug addiction and related criminality. The total cost of drugs to society is estimated to be £19 billion, more than twice the value of the illicit drug trade."
There has been little response to the report internationally. It's a different matter within the UK however, particularly in Scotland. The MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party), wrote on Sept. 4, 2023 ("Pilot drug consumption room must follow report recommending it, says SNP MP"):
"The Scottish Government has been fiercely tackling the issue, with its latest proposals including the establishment of safe consumption rooms. Similar policies have had resounding success in other countries around the world.
"And after a report from a Westminster committee called for the establishment of safe consumption rooms in Glasgow, it’s clear that the UK government can no longer ignore the need for urgent reform of drug laws.
"The UK Home Affairs Committee published a report which calls for a review of drug classification and a new health-led approach to tackling drugs with a trial of safe consumption rooms to reduce the harm of dangerous drugs. The Scottish Government already treats problematic drug use as a public health emergency, however drugs laws are currently reserved to Westminster."
Ms. Thewliss further observed: "The creaking, decrepit Misuse of Drugs Act is over fifty years old and must now be reviewed as a matter of urgency. Criminalising drug users has done nothing but entrench a problem that sees far too many people die each year."
While the report is welcome news, advocates point out that action is still lacking and is needed desperately. The Daily Record reported on Sept. 1, 2023 ("Drugs crusader slams lack of action on drugs reforms as he visits model facilities in Denmark"):
"Drugs campaigner Peter Krykant has blasted the Scottish and UK governments for standing still on reforms.
"Krykant launched his own mobile Drug Consumption Room in Glasgow three years ago - and the Daily Record was on board to record the events. But our Lord Advocate is still working on a legal framework to open Drug Consumption Rooms - more than two years after it was announced that Scotland would go it alone on the measures."