​End regressive, ‘stupid’ war on drugs, campaigners tell Cameron

Anne-Marie Cockburn mother of drugs victim Martha Fernback (Still from YouTube video/Transform Drug Policy Foundation)
Families of people who have died or been imprisoned due to UK drug legislation handed a letter to Number 10 on Tuesday, as the House of Lords debated Britain’s new Psychoactive Substances Bill.

The relatives connected as part of the Anyone’s Child project, which has been organized by drugs policy reform campaign group Transform.

Family members joined campaigners in calling on the government to review Britain’s drug policy and consider legalizing and regulating a number of illicit substances.

Anyone’s Child’s Martin Powell said the purpose of the visit was to place responsibility for the UK’s failing drug policies firmly on Westminster’s shoulders.

The Anyone’s Child project is all about bereaved families who have been let down by the government’s drug policy, who are calling for a review of the drug policy and [for government] to consider all the alternatives, including legalizing and regulating them,” Powell told RT on Tuesday.

If the government refuses to even look at the evidence in this way then they must take the responsibility,” he added.

Families handed the letter to Downing Street on Tuesday to urge Prime Minister David Cameron to commission a review of UK drugs policy.

We are a group of ordinary families who have joined together because we share the grief and sorrow from having loved ones who have been hurt by our failing drug laws,” the letter stated.

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We have come to the conclusion that not only do our drug laws harm and kill, but that legally regulating drugs through pharmacies and doctors, rather than street dealers, would have better protected our loved ones. In fact, some might still be alive if drugs were under strict government control.

In the process of lobbying for legislative change, the Anyone’s Child campaign seeks to raise awareness about the true cost of Britain’s so-called war on drugs.

A spokesperson for the Anyone’s Child project told Politics.co.uk that the number of drug-related deaths in the past 13 years far exceeds the number of soldiers killed in the Afghanistan war.

Our vicious and stupid drug laws don't stop young people from taking drugs … But putting dangerous criminals in charge has devastating results for them and their families,” the spokesperson added.

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"In 2002 David Cameron called for a debate on legal regulation. Since then, there have been over 26,000 drug deaths in the UK – compared with 453 UK soldiers in Afghanistan.”

Among the family members who visited Downing Street was Anne-Marie Cockburn, mother of Martha Fernback who died at the age of 15 from a drug overdose in Oxford in 2013.

Martha lost her life after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder – a commonly used club drug, also known as Molly – which turned out to be 91 percent pure.

Cockburn said in a statement that if her daughter had taken “legally regulated drugs meant for adults, labelled with health warnings and dosage instructions, she would not have gone on to take five to ten times the safe dose.”

Tuesday also saw a debate in the House of Lords over the new Psychoactive Substances Bill, which seeks to ban so-called “legal highs.

The proposed legislation has been attacked by prominent drugs experts, including the advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD), which accused it of seeking to criminalize otherwise law-abiding citizens.