The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), one of the UK’s largest and most influential medical bodies, has expressed its formal support for the findings and recommendations of RSPH’s landmark drug policy report, Taking a New Line on Drugs.

The Taking a New Line on Drugs report, published in 2016 with the support of the Faculty of Public Health, advocates a new, public health-based approach to UK drug policy, including decriminalisation of personal possession and use of all illegal substances, and the transfer of lead responsibility for drug strategy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

In a statement issued and covered in the British Medical Journal, the RCP strongly supports RSPH’s position that drug use and harm must be treated as a health issue, and expresses concern over rising drug deaths and cuts to treatment budgets.

Welcoming the RCP announcement, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “We are delighted that the Royal College of Physicians has voted to endorse our position on drug policy reform. That such an influential medical body has put its weight behind a public health and harm reduction approach to drugs, including the decriminalisation of personal possession and use, goes to show just how far the debate on this issue has moved forward – and how far behind the curve many politicians in the UK still are.

“There is a growing consensus, backed by a strong international evidence base, among the health community and among the public that criminal justice approaches to drug harm have failed, and that we must start treating drugs first and foremost as a health issue.

“It is critical that the health community speaks with a united voice on this issue in order to drive meaningful policy change, and so we hope other medical colleges will soon follow the lead of the RCP.”