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The government’s drug policy is failing, says new publication

16 March 2007

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According to a new book, the UK government’s drugs policy is failing and creating significant health risks to the general public. This is one of many issues in relation to illicit drugs
discussed in “Drug Affliction” by Dr Ian Oliver.

Dr Oliver has an extensive knowledge about the global drug problem gained from 37 years as a police officer, over eight years as an independent consultant to the United Nations Drug Control Programme, extensive research and membership of international expert committees.  He has travelled widely and has helped to establish Drug Control Agencies in the former Soviet Republics of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, reviewed drug policies in Asia and the Middle and Far East and has advised on diverse projects in numerous countries.

The toleration of continued drug use has resulted in prisons becoming incubators for serious blood borne diseases – hepatitis C is 20 times higher in prisons than outside and HIV is 15 times more prevalent in male prisoners. This creates a vulnerability to the general public when these prisoners return to society.

Dr Oliver argues that we have allowed a culture of tolerance and acceptance of drugs in society to develop to the point where those who are not directly involved with drug-related problems consider that the issue has little to do with them. As a result, there is a distinct and dangerous absence of awareness about the extent to which drugs have a serious impact on our society.

This is compounded by determined efforts on the part of the drug traffickers and legalisers to promulgate false and misleading information about drugs in order to promote the trade and to deceive people into believing that there is a safe
way to take illicit drugs.

In the last decade, the availability of dangerous drugs has increased to such a point that almost any person who wishes to acquire cannabis or “crack” cocaine would have little difficulty in locating a supplier and, in most cases, the price would be affordable, although many who have become dependent on drugs have turned to crime to pay for their habit. The culture of tolerance and acceptance among the younger generation, even with those who have no personal desire to use drugs, results from insufficient government action to ensure proper public
awareness on the damaging effect that the drug trade is having in so many areas of our lives.

Dr Oliver said: “Drugs will be with us for a very long time unless active government initiatives of public information and a commitment to stop tolerating illicit drugs are adopted together with provision of treatment for those who need it. Currently, there is little sign that this is happening.”