Views & Reviews Personal View

It’s time for the UK government to fully review drug policy

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 17 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5235
  1. Ewan Hoyle, founder of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform
  1. ewanhoyle{at}

On 18 September at their annual party conference the Liberal Democrats will debate a motion about policy for illicit drug use, which my colleagues and I have prepared. It’s not a hugely radical motion. How radical is it to call for an examination of the impact of current policy and a thorough investigation of the potential impact of alternative approaches? This is how we should expect governments to formulate policy for all of the areas for which they have responsibility.

Sadly though, politicians have long believed that drug policy is not like other policy: to follow the evidence risks being seen as being “soft on drugs” and recklessly endangering the vulnerable bodies and minds of our nation’s children.

If Liberal Democrats are to challenge the tabloids—particularly the Daily Mail, whose influence over politicians in suppressing debate on this matter is chilling—and gain the support of backbench Conservatives to have a meaningful impact on government policy, then they must instead adopt a policy that can be framed as “tough on drugs” by effectively restricting their ability to cause harm (Why do we so wilfully cover up the failure of the war on drugs?” 1 Aug 2010,

Although some have suggested that a discussion …

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