Resulting clauses which attempt to control "encampments" where there are "amplified audio devices" could be interpreted as making it illegal to have a stereo and a tent, which outdoor party-goers from back in the day might say is indeed part of the intent!
That's bad enough, but there's another part of this same Bill you may not have heard of, which aims to change crucial requirements around who makes up the members of an important committee with the power to influence substance control law.
If Bill 62-EN passes, it would remove the requirement that members of the Advisory Council for the Misuse members have any medical or scientific training or indeed any relevant experience, and instead would allow the Secretary of State sweeping powers to appoint anyone “he considers appropriate”. It would also allow the Secretary of State to ban substances for a period of 12 months instantaneously and without further study.
The only requirements for invoking illegal status on a substance and thus immediately criminalizing anyone already possessing it*, is that first the Home Secretary must discuss it with the Council, whose members s/he has been allowed to hand pick and that both they and s/he must be “satisfied that the drug in question is one that is, or is likely to be, misused, and that misuse is having, or is capable of having, harmful effects.” That sounds like a whole lot of guess work. Shouldn’t evidentiary proofs be required?
The amendment is too broad and does not indicate upon what basis future members would be selected other than the Home Secretary's judgement. It does not encourage people to study medicine and science when such knowledge doesn't appear to be valued by a government that does not think official committees such as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs deserve to have members with any special training.
In 2009, this same Drugs Advisory Council’s then-head, Professor David Nutt, was forced from his position after he pointed out flaws in the current classification system that led to distorted evaluations of risk. This message, although undeniably corroborated by factual data, was regarded as not in keeping with the blind allegiance to the “war on drugs” that our leaders continue to promote. Now, the government wants to make sure that experts like David Nutt never get on the committee in the first place.
This attack on science, reason and the truth, must not be allowed to continue. It is a step back into those dark times when Galileo was arrested for telling scientific truths then considered heretical.
From the incarceration of 10 million non-violent prisoners worldwide to the tens of thousands of murders attributed to Latin America’s narco-traffic underground, the societal evidence correlates with current scientific data in concluding that the "war on drugs" has failed.
We support a rational society in which scientists are free to share the truths that they discover, without fear of suppression for political ends. Thus, we insist that people with relevant expertise guide policy on all important issues facing society.
Otherwise, one has to ask, who makes these crucial decisions, and upon what basis? Why should we be “advised” by people who have no special knowledge?
Reproduced below is the original text of the 1971 act, with everything after the word "appropriate" set to be stricken:
SCHEDULE 1 Constitution etc. Of Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs1(1)The members of the Advisory Council, of whom there shall be not less than twenty, shall be appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with such organisations as he considers appropriate, and shall include—(a)in relation to each of the activities specified in sub-paragraph (2) below, at least one person appearing to the Secretary of State to have wide and recent experience of that activity; and(b)persons appearing to the Secretary of State to have wide and recent experience of social problems connected with the misuse of drugs.(2)The activities referred to in sub-paragraph (1)(a) above are—(a)the practice of medicine (other than veterinary medicine);(b)the practice of dentistry;(c)the practice of veterinary medicine;(d)the practice of pharmacy;(e)the pharmaceutical industry;(f)chemistry other than pharmaceutical chemistry.
Please go to www.theyworkforyou.com and enter your postcode to find your MP. You can send an email from there too, so in addition to signing this petition, please also send an email to your representative. Feel free to add your own sentiments when you do so and remember that letters received by post have twice the impact, so there is that option as well.
*Update: May 25 2010. An amendment has been proposed in the House of Lords so that those caught with temporarily banned substances would not be charged with an offense. Nevertheless, this does not alter the fact that "temporary" bans are rarely reversed and so this minor adjustment doesn't make the Bill more acceptable. - DT
*Update: June 13 2011. On its way to 3rd Reading in the House of Lords with many amendments to various sections of the Bill now proposed. Lord Ramsbotham has stated his opposition to both Clause 152 and 153 in their entirety; Baroness Hamwee has questioned the wisdom of "tinkering" when there needs to be a "rethinking"; Lords Rosser, Hunt of Kings Heath and Stevenson of Balmarca have proposed a replacement paragraph for the stricken text that reinstates the need for experts on the ACMD; this was also supported by Baroness Finlay; and Lord Soley has stated for the record that this issue should not be dealt with in this Bill at all.
I contacted Lords Rosser, Hunt and Stevenson and am told that our campaign will be mentioned in this Thursday's debate in the House of Lords and Vernon Coaker has promised to inform Clive Efford, Shadow Minister dealing with this portion of the Bill, of it as well. (D.T.)
The full text of what is known in Parliament as Bill 62-EN is available at this link, where you can also read the updates as it passes through the Houses: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/policereformandsocialresponsibility/documents.html
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Online petition - Keep Experts on the Drugs Advisory Council!