We caution against ‘politicising’ drugs reform


‘Whether you’re for or against reform to our drugs laws, we’re all substantially on the same side,’ a ‘Connected Health’ communiqué from joint campaigners Equality Rights Group and ‘Stay Clean’, said today on the eve of further expected parliamentary debate on the issues. ‘We all want to eliminate the criminal trade in psychoactives, and we all want safety and health for our community. We only disagree on ‘how’ this is best done.
‘We must stay focused and factually objective about drugs, avoiding speculation without scientific proof. Medical and other claims must be subjected to rigorously verified assessment. We must all exercise a high degree of responsibility towards the public, yet this cannot be an excuse for doing little or nothing.
‘We launched the drugs debate last September with holistic proposals on caring approaches in our community. This means not only looking at the medicinal applications of reform, but also actively working for prevention and after-care in the community. That, in a nutshell, is why we believe Regulation is a must.
‘It’s time to wake up to the fact that partial approaches have always been, and still are, the problem not the solution. Government must delay no longer and put into effect its very clear and precise 2015 Manifesto Social Services commitments in this regard. It was in this same vein that our twenty-four page detailed Report put forward serious proposals for adequate, comprehensive tackling of all aspects of this issue. Government, and all of us, need to take control away from Organised Crime.
‘ERG and ‘Stay Clean’ call for a rational, politically non-partisan approach and resolution to this long-term and concerning social question. Whilst grateful for needed parliamentary moves aiming to take our community forward on improving the health and other realities of too many people in our lives, we nonetheless caution against positions which may divert our focus away from the scientific, calm and objective collection of evidence and facts towards any kind of political ends which, if aiming to demonstrate conviction, must pass the litmus test of concern for the whole community not only limited sectors. Whilst it is licit to raise issues politically, we must demand coherence.
‘Medicinal use of cannabis is an important issue for a great many people in Gibraltar. It is right and proper that we pay attention, and that we are responsible and honest with the facts and with the public. In this regard, whilst encouraging movement without undue delay on this front, we must take care to remain objective. There are indeed sound scientific reasons for upholding the view that cannabis formulations are effective in treating both chronic and neuropathic pain, spasticity, nausea and vomiting, as well as anxiety. There is also moderate evidence they can be efficient in Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and appetite stimulation. And there is limited evidence (requiring further study) for their efficacy in cases of epilepsy, bladder dysfunction, glaucoma, control of agitation in dementia and Tourette’s syndrome. These are all attested to by Prof. Michael Barnes’ May 2016 Report to the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform.
‘No one should be misled. This is why we at ERG/’Stay Clean’ place so much importance on up-to-date scientific expertise. It’s why we have committed to facilitating the evidence of reputable experts of the highest order to both the public and the Inter-Ministerial Committee. This is therefore why we also lay emphasis on all of us working together, avoiding politicising science, and remaining focused on reaching the best decisions as we set our goals for improvement,’ the statement closed.