Intended for healthcare professionals


Drug policy isn’t working, medical leaders and lawmakers agree

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 17 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3461
  1. Richard Hurley
  1. The BMJ

UK policy is failing to prioritise the health of people who use drugs, medical and political leaders agreed at a dinner at the House of Commons on 11 July. Diners heard that the public’s respect for doctors, and their authority, made them ideal advocates to lead calls for reform on behalf of vulnerable drug users.

The four organisations that hosted the dinner—The BMJ, the BMA, the Royal Society for Public Health, and the Royal College of Physicians’ Faculty of Public Health—have all stated recently that criminal punishment for drug users had not prevented drug taking but instead encouraged stigma, driving vulnerable patients away from treatment.

In the week that saw the government publish its strategy for dealing with use of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, and heroin,1 the dinner, sponsored by Ronnie Cowan, the …

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