Directly and indirectly, drug policies have a profound impact on society and medicine. The ways in which psychoactive substances are classified and controlled affect the health, well-being and freedoms of citizens; the spread and severity of drug-related diseases; the development of medical research; the availability of medical treatments; the strain on law-enforcement, rehabilitation and prison services; the growth of criminal gangs, and much else besides.

Many countries around the world have decided that strict drug prohibition has failed their citizens, and have experimented with alternative policies including decriminalisation, depenalisation, and introduction of regulated markets. Meanwhile, the UK has increased its reliance on prohibitive legislation, introducing in 2016 the New Psychoactive Substances Act, which criminalised the sale of all psychoactive substances unless specifically given exemption.

Featuring five of the UK’s most respected commentators on the War on Drugs, and chaired by the President of the Policy Institute, the symposium “Are British Police Wasted on Drugs” will take a behind-the-scenes look at drug control in the UK. The panel will explore how policy actually gets made and how the fields of science, media, economics, politics and law-enforcement all contribute to the process. Why has Britain made the policy decisions it has made, who is to blame or congratulate for these decisions, and where might the future lead? The panellists will describe the pressures they each face in their work, and address why Britain has been so reluctant to acknowledge the possibility of alternative drug control strategies, despite many politicians privately recognising a need for change.

The Panel will include:

Baroness Molly Meacher is a life peer and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform. She is president of The Haemophilia Society. Her past includes positions as chair of the East London and City Mental Health Trust, of the London NHS Clinical Ethics Committee and of the East London NHS Foundation Trust. Molly was also chief advisor to the Russian Government on Employment, chair of the Police Complaints Authority, and also chair of the Security Industry Authority.

Professor Val Curran is Director of UCL’s Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, Professor of Psychopharmacology and Research Lead at Camden & Islington’s Drug Services. She is a founding member of Drug Science. Her research spans a wide range of drugs which act on the brain and are used medically and/or for recreational purposes.

Chief Constable Tom Lloyd is an international drug policy adviser, former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire and former Strategic Director of New Scotland Yard. His experience in the UK and the many countries he has visited around the world has led him to the conclusion that drug prohibition is a hugely costly, counter-productive and harmful failure.

Dr John Collins is Executive Director of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project and coordinator of the Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy. He edited the 2012 LSE IDEAS Special Report, Governing the Global Drug Wars, the 2014 Report Ending the Drug Wars and the 2016 Report, After the Drug Wars. He is conducting an LSE Research Division project on “Shifting Drug Strategies in Ireland and the UK.”

Max Daly is an award-winning freelance journalist specialising in drugs and crime, and the author of Narcomania: How Britain Got Hooked on Drugs. He is a columnist at VICE UK, a former editor of Druglink and former deputy news editor of the Big Issue. As a freelancer, Max has written for the BBC, the Guardian, Times, Mail on Sunday, Mirror, Independent and specialist magazines.

Professor Jonathan Grant (Chair) is Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, and Assistant Principal for Strategy at King’s. Jonathan has significant experience providing analytical support on the formulation and implementation of R&D strategies internationally, including in the UK, Greece, Norway, Qatar, Oman, Australia, Canada and the USA. He was President of RAND Europe between 2006 and 2012 and before that Head of Policy at the Wellcome Trust. Jonathan received his Ph.D from the Faculty of Medicine, University of London and his B.Sc. (Econ) from the London School of Economics.

Are British Police Wasted On Drugs?

Thursday 29th September, 6pm-9pm

Lecture Theatre 1, New Hunt’s House, Newcomen Street, London SE1 1UL

Tickets available here

David King is the Director of the KCL Society for Psychedelic Studies and a Co-Director of Breaking Convention.

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