Today is the International Day to remember our loved ones who have died as a result of the so-called war on drugs. They have died as a result of their unnecessary criminalisation; they have died as a result of prohibition. It is criminalisation and prohibition that make drugs so dangerous. It is the society in which we live that shows such callous indifference to the deaths of so many.

Thousands of people in the last year have been murdered as a result of the war on people who use drugs. They have been killed in extrajudicial killings; they have been executed; they have died as a result of blood-borne infections; they have died unnecessarily from overdose. Our governments – the government in the UK, and governments in almost every jurisdiction in the world – seem entirely indifferent to these countless deaths, to the suffering of the drug using community, their families, their loved ones. Every one of these deaths is a tragedy, and is an avoidable tragedy.

As a result of criminalisation, drugs are produced in the black market, resulting in people who use heroin in the UK, and internationally, dying from heroin contaminated with anthrax, heroin contaminated with fentanyl, and with carfentanyl. Due to prohibition, and due to politicians’ failure to adopt comprehensive harm reduction, drug consumption rooms, and drug testing, there is simply no possibility to ensure the content of drugs.