Topic of the Week
Topic of the Week focuses on a really important issue that we believe is resonating through UK society. New topics will be introduced on a regular basis.
Each discussion of this type will feature a number of guest opinion leaders and influencers. Each will share their perspective on an aspect of the topic in question. We hope you will find something of interest, join the discussion and share your own opinion. We have some great topics coming up.
We hope to be able to use these discussions to explore many important issues in current society. We also seek to gain a clear understanding of where public opinion really does sit, on many important issues, by providing a platform for you to have your say!
Topic of the Week – UK Drug Policy Contributors
Our immense thanks go to all Topic of the Week contributors. We are extremely grateful for their participation and the time they’ve taken to share their points of view. All contributors seek an evidence-based policy, that is focussed on harm reduction.
You can find more information about our contributors below. As highly respected, forward-thinking individuals and organisations – and in some cases, world-renowned authorities on the topic – we highly encourage you to visit their sites to explore the wealth of knowledge and resources they provide.
Baroness Molly Meacher
Baroness Molly Meacher was made a life peer in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the 2ndof May 2006. She worked for the Social Services in North London and the Mental Health Foundation during the 1980’s. She is the chair of Dignity in Dying and president of The Haemophilia Society.
Since 2011 she has chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Drug Policy Reform, which recommends decriminalisation of drugs. In 2012 she chaired the inquiry panel of the APPG into new psychoactive substances. The panel produced a report, Towards a Safer Drug Policy. She also leads a European Initiative on drug policy reform.
CLEAR – Cannabis Law Reform was founded as the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) in March 1999 when it registered as political party with the Electoral Commission. It had evolved from the “Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association” (CLCIA), a Norwich based campaign created following the demise of the original Legalise Cannabis Campaign. The party has campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.
Peter Reynolds was elected as leader of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) in 2011. He led the transformation of the LCA into CLEAR and was appointed president in 2014. He stood down as leader in July 2015 but continues as president with responsibility for strategy and as the public face of CLEAR.
Transform are an independent think-tank that operates internationally and works with partners from all sectors to further their aims through research, education and policy reform. Transform’s vision, is to have a global system of drug regulation and control, that protects people, promotes peace and security, sustainable development, health and human rights.
Danny Kushlick is the founder of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which he started in 1996, after working in a variety of jobs in the drugs field. It was his clients’ experience that led him to the understanding that prohibition is a social policy catastrophe. He worked for Bristol Drugs Project, the Big Issue Foundation, Bath Area Drugs Advisory Service and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO). He is now an internationally recognised commentator on drug and drug policy issues, with a unique combination of personal experience and broad, global view.
Arfon Jones was elected the Police and Crime Commissioner for north Wales on 5 May 2016. He will remain in office until the next elections which will be held in May 2020. Arfon had a twenty-year career with North Wales Police ending in 2008 when he retired at the rank of Inspector. He has campaigned for the drugs laws to be relaxed and believes that cannabis should be legalised for medicinal use.
Mike Barton is one of the UK’s most respected and innovative senior Police Officers. He has been Chief Constable of Durham since 2012.
Under Mike’s command, Durham Police have been rated outstanding by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in its annual PEEL report. This is level of rating is rare amongst UK Police Forces – a feat which Durham Police have achieved for the past three consecutive years.
The Beckley Foundation
The Beckley Foundation is a UK-based and world renowned think-tank and NGO founded and directed by Amanda Feilding who has led the Scientific and Policy Programmes since its creation. Its purpose is to pioneer psychedelic research and drive evidence-based drug policy reform. Amanda has propelled the field forwards over the last 20 years, conducting several landmark studies such as the world’s first LSD brain imaging study. The Beckley Foundation Scientific Programme initiates, designs, and conducts UK-based and International research into the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain, in order to minimise their potential harms, learn more about consciousness and brain function, and discover and explore their therapeutic potential.
Eddie Jacobs is the Science and Policy Officer. Eddie studied PPE at the University of Oxford before graduate training in Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Buddhist Studies. Across these disciplines he has asked questions about the nature of self and consciousness, and he joined the Beckley Foundation precisely because of the potential of psychedelics to further our understanding of these phenomena.
LEAP UK are a passionate community of former and current Police, undercover operatives, intelligence service, military personnel and a range of figures from the criminal justice system. They have joined together with civilians to raise awareness of the failed, dangerous and expensive pursuit of a punitive drug policy. Leap UK are advocates for evidence-based policies with a public health focus for drugs and mental health.
Neil Woods is LEAP UK’s Chairman and a former police officer. Neil spent 14 years of his 23 years in the police as an undercover operative. His experience of the criminal and drug worlds have compelled him to campaign for reforming our drug laws. Neil has written about his experiences as an undercover operative within some of the UK’s biggest drug gangs. Good Cop, Bad War, exposes the realities of UK Drug Policy.
Jason Reed is the Executive Director of LEAP UK. Jason has worked in Drug Policy as a writer/blogger for many well-known, international journals and media platforms. He has also worked on a number of films, including highly rated documentaries including The Culture High, and the award winning GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution.
Anyone’s Child is a campaign by Transform Drug Policy Foundation to end the war on drugs, better protect our children and get drugs under control.
Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control is an international network of families whose lives have been wrecked by current drug laws and are now campaigning to change them. No one doubts that drugs can be dangerous – that’s why we should do all we can to prevent children and young people from taking them. But banning drugs and criminalising those who get involved with them causes even more harm.
Norman Lamb is a British Liberal Democrat politician and solicitor. He has been the Member of Parliament for North Norfolk since 2001, as well as Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee since 2017.
Norman has a special interest in the healthcare system and would like to see all services integrated, in order to support both physical and mental health needs. He strongly believes that anyone entering the criminal justice system with a mental health condition, should be referred for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Norman is a strong advocate for UK Drug Policy Reform.
The British Medical Journal
The BMJ started out over 170 years ago as a medical journal. Now, a values-driven company and global brand, the organisation works with the vision of ‘doing what we can’ to contribute to creating a ‘healthier world’. This is achieved by helping medical organisations and clinicians tackle today’s most critical healthcare challenges. They publish the newest academic research for healthcare professionals, which helps to improve the quality of healthcare delivery with the use of their clinical decision support tools. They continue to support medical professionals and institutions around the globe.
Richard Hurley has been the Features and Debates Editor for the BMJ since 2002. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge, which culminated in a masters degree in physics.