The Isle of Man should give up the war on illegal drugs and instead regulate their use.
That’s the view of a leading campaigner, who is due to give a presentation in the island next week.
Jane Slater is head of operations at Transform, a charitable think tank that campaigns for an ’end to the drug war’.
She also set up Anyone’s Child, an organisation for families whose lives have been wrecked by drugs, which believes in regulation rather than criminality.
She is a speaker at an event organised by the Positive Action Group and Isle of Man Freethinkers, alongside Port St Mary man Ray Lakeman, whose two teenage sons died after they accidentally overdosed on ecstasy.
It was ’absolutely right’ for the Isle of Man to investigate de-criminalising drugs, Ms Slater told the Manx Independent this week, and it was an issue that was being considered by a number of governments around the world, although not on a public scale in the UK.
’Drugs need to be legally controlled and regulated,’ she said.
’It is about taking it out of the hands of organised criminals and giving it to doctors, pharmacists and governments who can get the market under control.
’I think at the political level, at the moment, the debate in the UK is not happening out in the open, but I think there is a shift in people’s attitudes towards this question and a growing understanding that what we are doing currently is not really working.
’People are starting to look at other countries and see maybe some of these options offer a better solution than what we are currently doing.’
Having drug use as a criminal offence made the risks greater for the users, she argued, whereas if it was legal - but regulated - it would be safer.
Transform has advised governments considering changing their drug laws and Ms Slater said the organisation would be prepared to help the Isle of Man if it chose to travel in that direction.
She confirmed the idea was for the legalisation of all drugs, but with different restrictions in place.
’I am talking about all drugs. We need to get them under control.
’There needs to be different regulations for different drugs, with stricter controls on drugs like heroin and more relaxed on things like cannabis.’
Ms Slater said she became involved in the campaign after studying at the University of Amsterdam and seeing a different drug policy in operation.
Since setting up the Anyone’s Child organisation, she has met a number of families who have lost someone to drugs.
’What is interesting is many of them had preached a very tough line on drugs while their children were alive and, subsequently, reading and looking at the evidence made them reach the conclusion that continuing the failed drug war is not the way forward.’
The presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer session, takes place in the Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas, on Monday, at 7.30pm. Admission is free.