Volteface is an organisation which seeks to reduce the harm drugs pose to individuals and society through evidence-based policy and reform. We spoke to Paul North, Volteface’s Director of External Affairs.
ON MEDICAL ACCESS:
“There is not enough UK evidence for Doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medicines on the NHS.”
- “Availability of medicine is more about existing data than the will/needs of the patient.”
There is a “natural conservatism around drugs in the UK.
- “Lack of exposure to and understanding of cannabis users (from absence of good drugs education) results in little empathy and increased prejudice.”
ON RECREATIONAL MARKET:
“I think the UK will [legalise recreationally] in the next five years.”
“There are many reasons as to why the UK is primed to legalise cannabis;”
- Economic advantages
- Increased public support
- And government willingness
Left wing arguments for legalisation centre on reducing harm and oppression, while the Right are for the economic growth it would create.
- “Drug reform is not an issue for just one ‘side’ of the ideological spectrum.”
“Reform will come from Government as a suggestion to boost economic growth and protect young people.”
“Both Brexit and Covid-19 are creating massive economic uncertainty. Policies which increase tax revenues and create new jobs will be very welcome.”
It’s stories, not scientific facts, that drive reform. Education should involve personal narratives around cannabis use to give a full picture.
“The people worst affected by UK drug laws are the street homeless population. They are at the sharp end of our drug policies and experiencing heart-breaking harm.”
“There is growing evidence that legalisation of cannabis can reduce access young people have to cannabis.”
“Right now, using illegal cannabis is as harmful as it can be. The potency is not at all controlled and there is a risk of criminalisation of using the drug.”
“In a legal market we reduce the harm of using the drug massively by giving people a choice through information around the strain consumed.”
“Legal markets are far safer, and although use might increase, the harm of using is far less.”
Government needs to accept that “many people enjoy using cannabis and want to buy it just like any other product.”
“People are only going to stop calling their dealer if the legal market is better.”
“We should avoid models which make buying cannabis difficult or inconvenient for those old enough to consume it.”
“We should ensure the market is allowed to innovate and bring new products to market. Innovation is a fantastic way to reduce the harm of a drug.”
“Canada will continue to struggle to eliminate the illicit market until the legal market can to compete in terms of price, quality and ease of access.”