We all have an interest in knowing which policies work in tackling problems associated with drug use. Many members of the public, and many politicians, believe that our drug policies are not working. But the debate about how we address the challenges of mind-altering drugs is polarised, with an added emotional and moral aspect that is not seen in most other policy areas.
The UK Drug Policy Commission was established to address these problems in a different way. Our aim has been to show how independent scrutiny of evidence can produce both better results and value for money in drug policy and practice.
We believe that our projects - and their results - demonstrate how this can help to overcome the challenges which we now face. Existing drug policies have struggled to limit the damage drug use can cause. Yet the rapid creation of new drugs is changing the drugs market too quickly for the traditional methods we use to control drugs. People can now use the internet, both to find out about new substances and to purchase a ready supply.
The economic crisis may have an impact on the nature of drug use and drug problems in the UK, and with fewer resources, the capacity to respond will be limited further. Added to that, the speed and scale at which services are being devolved to a local level may mean there are increasing and unpredictable variations in the kind of services offered in different parts of the country.
In this report we identify a fresh approach to drug policy, with both a recasting of how we structure our response to drug problems, and an analysis of the evidence for how policies and interventions could be improved. The chapters cover where we are now; the need for a fresh approach and what this could look like; potential barriers in policymaking.
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