The expert Quakers in criminal justice group has called for British Quakers to help put an end to the UK’s damaging “war on drugs” policy, in a clear and strongly-worded statement. Quakers in Criminal Justice (QICJ) is an informal network of British Quakers involved in the criminal justice system, offering members information on penal issues and mutual support. The members include Quaker prison chaplains, probation officers, magistrates, prison governors, prison visitors, solicitors, barristers, judges, prison psychologists, psychiatrists, ex-offenders, members of boards of visitors, police officers, victim support workers, academics and others.
The new Minute reads:
The Decriminalisation of the personal use of illegal Drugs.
Quakers in Criminal Justice met in February 2019 to discuss, learn and discern matters relating to drug policy. The conference concluded having discerned the following Minute:
We feel strongly that the present drug policy causes harm as it is based on the criminalisation of people who use illegal drugs. We learnt that criminalisation is ineffective in reducing illegal drug use and that systems used to control drug use make no impact upon prevalence.
We understand that doing nothing is to condone the status quo and the harm caused by the current policy. Quakers in Criminal Justice understand that legal regulation will provide greater protection to people who use drugs. We need a health based system which encompasses harm reduction, health, social care and community resilience.
We consider that drug problems must be addressed alongside the problems caused by an unjust and unequal society. We believe it would be beneficial to have a regulated and licensed supply of all drugs. Public education is essential to convey that legal regulation would safeguard people who use drugs and the wider society as a whole – preventing deaths, drug related crime and reducing the involvement of organised crime.
We appreciate the deepening of this subject and we encourage Friends to explore how we can influence public opinion and political decision making. Friends can be in touch with the Quaker Decriminalisation Network about actions that can be taken.
This is a moral issue and Friends can be a force for change. We call upon Quakers in Britain to gain clarity on how to end the ‘war on drugs’.
We ask that our Recording Clerk consider how to make best use of this Minute.
Signed – Quakers in Criminal Justice
On 25 June – UN International Day Against Drugs – parents from across the UK will march to call for drugs to be legally regulated to protect children from harm (photo: Transform).