Major revision October 2019
Last amendment October 2019
DU100 Aim: To end the prohibition of drugs and create a system of legal regulation to minimise the harms associated with drug use, production and supply as part of an inclusive, supportive, socially just society.
- Is evidence based in all aspects of drug policy, taking into account the views of people who use alcohol and other drugs;
- Takes a public health approach to drug dependence to tackle the wider causes of problematic drug use, such as adverse life events and poverty;
- Recognises that adults should be free to make informed decisions about their own drug consumption and that such freedom must be balanced against the government’s responsibility to protect individuals and society from harm;
- Promotes international and environmental responsibility in relationships with producers and supply chain workers;
- Opposes profiteering from the supply of drugs;
- Is honest in communication to the public about drugs.
DR102 The Green Party recognises that in the majority of cases the limited use of drugs for recreational purposes is not harmful and has the potential to enhance human relationships and human creativity. Most harmful drug use is underpinned by poverty, isolation, mental illness, physical illness and psychological trauma. The minimisation of these societal ills will be the focus of the Green Party.
- Evidence-based education to raise public awareness of the criminal, health, environmental and international issues around the supply of drugs. Evidence-based education to be included in teacher training and incorporated into Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) in schools, starting in primary school.
- Evidence-based information and education to enhance the safety of all who use drugs, aimed at:
- The public, especially schoolchildren, parents and students.
- Professionals – health and social care workers, teachers, emergency services employees, and criminal justice professionals.
- Workers in bars, pubs, clubs and other entertainment venues.
- People in high-risk groups, including people who engage in chemsex, people in prison, sex workers, people who are homeless and survivors of trauma.
- Diversion from the Criminal Justice System. Diverting people involved in possession for personal use or minor supply offences away from the criminal justice system into an assessment by health services, drug education, or other support, rather than prosecuting or cautioning
- Ensure that the Home Office, in consultation with police, health bodies and civil society, creates national guidelines for best practice, diversion schemes for drug possession for personal use, and supply offences involving non-profit social supply, small-scale cannabis cultivation for personal use or driven by an individual’s own drug dependency. Diversion will avoid giving a criminal record, and provide access to drug services, drug education including harm reduction advice, and other support as needed.
- Support and encourage all police forces to implement diversion schemes, informed by best practice.
- Encourage the greater use of problem-solving courts to support people whose problematic drug use leads to increased contact with the criminal justice system. Magistrates and judges should aim to promote the utmost health and safety of both people who use drugs and wider society when handing down sentences, recognising that problematic drug use often stems from experiences of trauma, and that access to health and support programmes may in many cases be the most effective alternative to repeated short prison sentences. Evidence shows that problem-solving courts reduce reoffending and give offenders a greater chance of making a positive contribution to society.
- Drug treatment and support services
- Cease the use of the misleading term ‘Drugs and Alcohol’ and replace it with ‘drugs’ or ‘alcohol and other drugs’.
- Campaign for the protection of funding devolved from central government to local authorities for drug treatment services.
- Campaign for the protection of funding for drug treatment services through mandating local authorities to commission effective, accessible provision to meet local need in line with national standards.
- Bring together Community Safety, Police and Public Health funding to increase efficiency, align goals and prevent silos.
- End all financial and other incentives on NHS drugs services other than to promote the health of people who use drugs based on the best evidence available.
- Ensure drug and dependency treatment is led by health professionals; individualised, patient-centred treatment should be delivered in each patient’s best interests, according to the professional judgement of the doctor or health professional treating them and with the wishes and consent of the patient.
- Ensure that people with a dual diagnosis are able to access both mental health and drug treatment, removing barriers to access (including reengaging in treatment) and encourage that these services be commissioned jointly.
- Strengthen outcome-based commissioning, in line with the Public Health Outcomes Framework, focusing on reducing the number of drug-related deaths, reducing crime and increasing the health and quality of life for people who use drugs. Commissioned services should allow for flexibility to deliver holistic, tailored treatment for local need and specific individuals and groups, including women, people leaving prison and men who engage in chemsex.
- Overdose Prevention Centres (OPCs, also called supervised drug consumption rooms). OPCs are legally sanctioned facilities where people can inject or smoke their own drugs, under medical supervision, in order to prevent fatal overdoses, transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, and other health harms, and with access to other health and treatment services. They can be located in permanent clinics, mobile ambulance-style units or temporary structures, and are proven to increase treatment engagement for hard-to-reach groups (in particular those who are homeless and/or injecting in public spaces).
- Provide OPCs in towns and cities so that people living with problematic drug use can be provided with clean equipment and use their own drugs under medical supervision, with access to overdose reversal, drug treatment and additional medical and other support services.
- Devolve decision-making on whether to open OPCs to police, health services and local authorities.
- Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT). HAT is medically-prescribed heroin for people who are dependent on heroin, are unable to reduce their use and for whom other forms of Opioid Substitute Therapy are not effective. HAT takes place in clinics under medical supervision (though in a small proportion of cases it can be through prescribing for home use). HAT reduces: fatal overdoses; harms associated with heroin dependence (such as criminality); needle sharing which can lead to HIV and hepatitis infections; high-risk street injecting; and discarded needles. Additionally, it increases take-up and retention in treatment. Studies show moreover that HAT is cost effective.
- Support the call of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: ‘Central government funding should be provided to support HAT for patients for whom other forms of Opioid Substitution Treatment have not been effective’.
- Encourage health services, police and local authorities to work together to open Swiss-model HAT clinics, including developing collaborative funding streams to ensure long-term sustainability.
- Carry out research to explore whether lower-threshold access to HAT for a wider group of people who use heroin would be beneficial.
- Ensure that take-home prescribing of heroin is available to people for whom it is appropriate.
- Naloxone provision
Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effect of heroin and other opiates. It is cheap and has no potential for misuse. It can be administered by injection into the muscle or intranasally. Where available, naloxone is proven to decrease deaths from opiate overdose.
- Issue naloxone to people who inject opiates who present to health services.
- Issue naloxone to all those leaving prison on an opt-out basis.
- Ensure that all emergency services personnel are trained to administer naloxone and have easy access to naloxone either on the person or in a nearby vehicle.
- Include naloxone administration as a key skill to be taught on all first aid courses.
- Ensure that intranasal naloxone is included in all first aid kits and with all public defibrillators.
- Make nasal naloxone available without prescriptions in pharmacies.
- Drug Safety Testing Knowing what is in any drug, and how strong it is, can reduce the risk of overdose, poisoning or long-term damage. Drug safety testing at festivals and in city centres, in the absence of a regulated drug supply, is a proven way to reduce risk from drug use.
- Provide regular, free, confidential, accessible drug safety testing at festivals and in urban and rural areas where local need dictates, so people know what they are taking, accompanied by tailored health and safer use advice. This should be accessible both for night-time economy drug use and for people who use heroin or other drugs, including within OPCs.
- Use intelligence regarding the nature and identity of drugs in circulation to support early warning systems to alert professionals and people who use drugs about contaminated, high strength or other particularly risky drugs.
- Reducing the exploitation of vulnerable children and adults for the sale of drugs in towns / villages
- Promote Green Party policy around social welfare, education, youth services, housing and wellbeing to reduce the numbers vulnerable to exploitation and support the end to prohibitionist policies with the aim of reducing the criminal profits that motivate Organised Criminal Groups (OCGs).
- Drugs training in Police (concealment of controlled drugs). The concealment of controlled drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis in the body has become increasingly prevalent among drug couriers and county drug line runners. Wrapped packages of drugs are either swallowed or concealed in body orifices. It is common practice for people to swallow drugs to avoid police detection. The risk from swallowing or packing drugs depends on the type of drug, the number of packages and the type of packaging used.
- Police training that focuses on medical emergency rather than the recovery of potential evidence.
- Police training that features identifying signs of toxicity and choking.
- If it is known or suspected that a detainee has swallowed or packed drugs, either for the purpose of trafficking or to avoid imminent arrest or detention by the police, the person must be treated as being in need of urgent medical attention and immediate first aid to prevent choking, and/or taken straight to the nearest hospital or an ambulance.
- If the detainee has been brought to a custody suite, having swallowed or packed controlled drugs, an ambulance or health care professional must be called immediately; a custody record should be opened but this should not delay a transfer.
- Ensure that individuals who summon emergency medical services to the scene of a drugs-related emergency will not face arrest for drugs charges.
- Drugs in Prisons. Drug use and the related markets are among the main challenges facing prison systems. They can threaten security and lead to violence, bullying and threats to prisoners, their families and friends, and prison officers. The disruption and damage a prison sentence does to employment prospects, relationships, housing and other aspects of life mean the problems driving drug dependency are made worse by a prison sentence.
- Support the use of diversion (see above) to ensure as few people as possible with drug problems are sent to prison.
- Campaign for a fundamental reform of the prison system to address drugs in prisons; NB: this is further addressed in the Green Party’s Crime and Justice Policy.
- Provide access to harm reduction programmes in prisons, including needle and syringe programmes and HAT, in accordance with the United Nations principle that people in prison must have access to the highest attainable standards of health care as part of their basic human rights.
- Inclusive Employer Practice
- Campaign for employers to ignore previous drugs convictions in prospective employees.
- Campaign for employers to restrict drug testing of employees to cases of proven risk to health and safety.
- Cannabis Social Clubs. The Cannabis Social Club is a community-based, non-profit model that can form an integral part of a legally regulated cannabis market. Clubs can cultivate and consume their own cannabis and cannabis products within a regulated membership-based not-for-profit cooperative. Furthermore, they act as a gathering place for recreational consumers and patients using medicinal cannabis as well as a place of information exchange, advice on safer cannabis use, harm reduction and education.
- Support the decriminalisation of the cultivation and possession of cannabis whilst supporting communities wishing to establish Cannabis Social Clubs through pushing for the development of new legal frameworks, for example allowing for private / 18+ membership, tiered licensing dependent upon membership size, cultivation limit dependent upon membership size and possession limits (for on site and in transit).
- Alcohol Control Foundation
- Promote the establishment of a publicly controlled ‘alcohol control foundation’, paid for by alcohol taxation, which will fund public health interventions to reduce harms caused by alcohol.
- Tobacco Control Foundation
- Promote the establishment of a publicly controlled ‘tobacco control foundation’, paid for by tobacco taxation, which will fund public health interventions to reduce harms caused by tobacco.
- Supporting Hemp Farmers.
- Allow hemp farmers to harvest their CBD-rich flowers for their own production or to sell to third parties to produce their own CBD products.
- Following the Swiss model, include varieties of hemp with up to 1% THC on the government approved list of hemp varieties available for cultivation in the UK.
DR302 A Green government will replace prohibition with a legalised, regulated system of drug control. The production, import and supply of all recreational drugs, including alcohol and nicotine but excluding caffeine (see below), will be regulated according to the specific risks that they pose to the individual, to society and to the environment. Drugs that pose the highest risks will be subject to the heaviest regulation; less risky drugs will be subject to lighter regulation.
DR303 A Green government will end all criminal sanctions for possession of drugs for personal use. Criminal sanctions for the illicit production, import and supply of controlled drugs will include community service sentences and fines to reduce the profitability of the illegal drugs trade. Routine custodial sentencing for non-violent drug offences will be abolished.
DR304 A Green government will expunge criminal records relating to possession and small-scale supply of drugs and pardon individuals for these charges. A Green government will establish a review on how to deal with moderate and large-scale supply convictions.
DR305 A Green government will seek to renegotiate the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) and the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), which underpin the failing ‘war on drugs’ and the harmful prohibitionist policies of governments around the world. In the event that these cannot be renegotiated along the lines of the principles laid out in this policy, a Green government would unilaterally withdraw from them.
DR306 A Green government will repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, ending prohibitionist policies that have empowered organised criminal networks and harmed individuals and communities across England and Wales for much of the 20th and 21st centuries.
DR310 A Green government will set up an Advisory Council for Drug Safety, an independent committee of individuals with appropriate expertise in health, psychology, sociology, law and international trade. The committee will be responsible for:
- Appraising new scientific evidence on drugs and drug policy and advising the government on suitable changes to regulatory mechanisms
- Commissioning research, analysing evidence and recommending regulation for New Psychoactive Substances
- Establishing a review on how to deal with moderate and large-scale supply convictions
- Continuous national surveillance of patterns of drug use and drug-related harm, and contributing to international surveillance of patterns of use
- Ensuring environmentally-sustainable and mutually beneficial trading relations between the government and opium- and coca-growing communities in the global south
DR311 The Green Party recognises the importance of medical research using currently illicit drugs; therefore, a Green government will remove existing unwarranted restrictions on the use of psychoactive substances in medical research and ensure that all drugs are scheduled based on evidence of their therapeutic and medicinal use.
DR314 A Green Government will introduce maximum blood concentrations for all drugs for activities that require sobriety in order to maximise public safety. This will include, but may not be limited to, driving, operating machinery, childcare and decision-making by public officials.
DR316 A Green government will restrict the sale of household and industrial products, volatile substances or solvents to those under the age of 18 where the seller/supplier has reasonable cause to believe that these will be used for purposes of intoxication.
- Medical Prescription – doctors and suitably qualified health professionals will be able to prescribe drugs such as heroin to those who use drugs.
- Specialist Pharmacy – specially qualified pharmacists will be able to dispense supplies of recreational drugs such as powder cocaine or amphetamines over the counter to people who wish to use the drugs for recreational purposes. Drugs will be dispensed after a short consultation during which the person who uses the drug is given safety information and directed to support services if required.
- Licensed Sales – outlets will be licensed by local councils to sell drugs such as herbal cannabis or alcohol to people who wish to use the drugs for recreational purposes. Licensees will be subject to regulation on opening hours, quantity, strength and type of drug sold, age and intoxication level of the purchaser. All drugs sold in licensed outlets will be subject to minimum unit pricing.
- Licensed Premises – venues will be licensed by local councils to sell drugs such as alcohol and low-strength MDMA to people who wish to use drugs for recreational purposes for consumption on the premises. Licensees will be subject to regulation on location, external signage, opening hours, quantity, strength and type of drug sold, age and intoxication level of the purchaser. All drugs sold in licensed premises will be subject to minimum unit pricing.
- Unlicensed Sales – low-risk drugs such as caffeine and coca tea which are suitable for sale will be made available in unlicensed shops and venues and subject to food and drink legislation.
DR318 Local Authority licensing committees will be responsible for granting licenses for the supply of recreational drugs using the above mechanisms. Committees will be guided by the following principles in their decision-making:
- Promotion of public safety
- Promotion of public health
- Protection of children and vulnerable adults from harm
- Protection of the natural environment
- Promotion of a diverse and inclusive cultural environment
- Promotion of a thriving local economy by supporting local producers
- Prevention of public nuisance, crime and disorder.
DR401 Alcoholic drinks are fermented liquors, e.g. wine, beer and spirits, containing the intoxicating agent ethyl alcohol. The Green Party recognises the special historical status that alcohol has with respect to other drugs in England and Wales but considers many aspects of our cultural attitude to drinking to be harmful to the individual and to society.
- Regulate alcohol in line with the regulation of other drugs
- Increase alcohol duties to reflect the cost of harm caused by alcohol use on society
- Reduce VAT on alcohol sold in pubs and restaurants in order to promote small businesses and incentivise safer alcohol consumption in communal settings
- Reduce drink-drive limits to 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.
- Make amphetamine available in fixed dosages at fixed prices to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes for personal use solely through the specialist pharmacy mechanism
- Require that specialist pharmacies provide full information on support services and safe use information, including guidelines on safe injecting
- Provide medical support and therapy for people whose use becomes problematic.
DR405 Cannabis contains cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produce a range of psychological and physiological effects. Since 2000, many governments in the world have decriminalised or legalised cannabis, with little evidence of increased use or harmful effects to the population, and generally positive health and social outcomes. Cannabis has a long history of use as a medicine. Medical cannabis is approved for use in the UK although access is currently limited to the private market.
- Grant licences for Cannabis Social Clubs, premises where members cultivate, prepare and consume cannabis for recreational purposes (see above)
- Grant licenses for small businesses to sell recreational cannabis at fixed prices for consumption on or off the premises
- Create commercial licences for co-operatives and social enterprises to cultivate cannabis to be sold either directly to the consumer (licensed sales) or to manufacturers of other cannabis-based products
- Make provision for home use and cultivation, including a limit on the number of plants permitted per household and restrictions on secondary for-profit sales
- Ensure that laboratory-tested cannabinoid content is clearly labelled on any commercially available flowers as well as ingestible and topical product such as edibles, oils, tinctures and balms
- Make herbal cannabis available on NHS prescription, produced by government-employed cultivators
- Apply to cannabis smoking the same restrictions as tobacco smoking
- Ensure that all commercially available cannabis products have a minimum of 1% Cannabidiol.
DR407 Cocaine is a stimulant that produces feelings of euphoria, confidence, energy and alertness. It is produced from coca leaves grown in the Andes region. The Green Party recognises that any attempt to address the human rights, development, health and environmental fallout from the prohibitionist approach to drugs must adopt a new approach to the production, trade and use of cocaine and other coca products on a global scale.
- Make powder cocaine available in fixed dosages at fixed prices to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes for personal use only through the specialist pharmacy model
- Make lower-strength cocaine products such as drinks available at fixed prices from specialist pharmacies to provide lower dose options, thus absorbing some of the demand for cocaine in a safer way
- Fund professional medical treatment for people who use cocaine problematically, along with social and psychological support
- Introduce direct partnerships between the UK government and coca farming co-operatives in main areas of production, notably parts of South America, that guarantee a fair and sustainable income for producer communities and a sustainable supply of coca and cocaine for recreational, medical and other uses in the UK.
- Explore options for piloting making crack cocaine available on NHS prescription from medical professionals for use under medical supervision in a clinic, similar to a Swiss-style Heroin Assisted Treatment clinic, as maintenance therapy for individuals who are unable or unwilling to reduce their use.
- Implement Heroin Assisted Treatment (see above) for people who use both heroin and crack cocaine and for whom other treatments have not worked.
- Introduce Overdose Prevention Centres (OPCs, see above) – venues where people can use crack cocaine, with free supplies of sterile injecting equipment, staffed by health professionals trained to promote maximum safety for people who use the drug.
- Fund professional medical treatment for people who use crack cocaine problematically, along with social and psychological support, to help them to engage as fully as possible in society.
- Make GHB available in fixed dosages to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes for personal use only through specialist pharmacies
- Require that clubs, bars, saunas and other venues have full safety information on GHB use and potential risks for patrons, emphasising the risks of combining GHB with alcohol and of sharing drinks with strangers
- Provide medical support and therapy for people who use the drug problematically.
- Make heroin available on NHS prescription from medical professionals as maintenance therapy for individuals who are unable or unwilling to reduce their use
- Introduce Overdose Prevention Centres (OPCs; see above)
- Fund professional medical treatment for people who use heroin problematically, along with social and psychological support, to help those people to engage as fully as possible in society
- Build a strong development component into the opioid industry to protect the interests of traditional opium-growing regions, for example by introducing direct partnerships between the UK government and opium farmers in central and south-east Asia to guarantee a sustainable income for farming communities.
DR415 Ketamine is a strong dissociative anaesthetic that also has psychedelic effects. It is used widely around the world as an anaesthetic agent and since the late 20th century has been popular among people seeking spiritual and other psychedelic experiences, as well as on the club scene. Ketamine is typically sniffed or snorted but can also be injected.
- End all unwarranted restrictions on ketamine for medical research
- Make ketamine available in fixed dosages to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes for personal use only through specialist pharmacies
- Provide medical support and therapy for people who use the drug problematically.
DR417 MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy, is a stimulant which produces empathogenic and occasionally hallucinogenic effects. It is typically ingested orally as a tablet or powder and is popular on the club and rave scenes. There is strong evidence of MDMA’s value as a medical treatment for some mental health disorders.
- End all unwarranted restrictions on MDMA for medical research
- Make MDMA available on prescription to patients under the direct supervision of licensed healthcare professionals in therapies where benefits have been proven by medical research
- Make MDMA available in fixed dosages to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes through specialist pharmacies
- Grant licenses to venues, festivals and other events to sell fixed-dose products containing low doses of MDMA for consumption on the premises
- Require that license holders be able to demonstrate that staff are trained to provide supportive care for individuals who are intoxicated
- Provide medical support and therapy for people who use the drug problematically.
- Make mephedrone available in fixed dosages to people who wish to use the drug for recreational purposes for personal use only through specialist pharmacies
- Provide medical support and therapy for people who use the drug problematically.
DR421 Methamphetamine has the same effects as amphetamine but is more potent and has a longer duration of action. It is more associated with problematic use because it can be smoked (unlike amphetamine sulphate/hydrochloride) as well as injected/snorted/taken orally. The rapid onset of smoked use increases risks including potential to develop compulsive or dependent patterns of use.
- Make methamphetamine available on NHS prescription from medical professionals as maintenance therapy
- Provide Overdose Prevention Centres (OPCs; see above)
- Fund professional medical treatment for people who use methamphetamine problematically, along with social and psychological support, to help them to engage as fully as possible in society.
New psychoactive substances
DR423 Driven by prohibitionist policies towards existing drugs, new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been developed, marketed and distributed since the early 21st century. NPS cover a vast spectrum, from almost harmless to potentially catastrophically dangerous (for example, some of the fentanyl analogues).
- Make all new drugs subject to research
- Implement risk-appropriate licensed sales dependent upon a baseline of risk data.
DR425 Nicotine is the principal psychoactive drug found in tobacco and has both stimulant and sedative effects on the brain. Since 2000, the UK government has introduced regulations on the supply and use of tobacco, which have dramatically improved health outcomes. Despite this, cigarette smoking remains the biggest preventable cause of death in Britain and worldwide.
- Prohibit all marketing by private companies of products containing nicotine
- Allow the NHS to promote nicotine-containing products as part of health promotion initiatives to reduce smoking
- Extend plain packaging policies to all products containing nicotine
- Make tobacco and nicotine-containing products available at licensed outlets only
- Extend the smoking ban to publicly accessible outdoor areas where children congregate such as playgrounds, school gates and youth centres.
DR427 Psychedelic drugs have the effect of altering a person’s state of consciousness and perception of visual and auditory stimuli. Because of the effect that psychedelic drugs have in enabling the person who uses them to see things from a different perspective, they have huge potential as part of therapeutic regimes for mental illnesses and addiction.
- Make substantial public funding available for research into psychedelic drugs as adjunctive therapies for mental illness and addiction
- Make psychedelic drugs available in fixed dosages to people who wish to use psychedelics for recreational purposes for personal use through specialist pharmacies
- Require that specialist pharmacies provide full information on support services to people who use psychedelics
- Grant licenses to venues and festivals and other events to sell fixed doses of psychedelic drugs for consumption on the premises, and require license holders to demonstrate that staff are trained to provide supportive care for individuals who are intoxicated.