The Home Affairs Committee has called on the government to reform archaic drug laws and establish more drug testing facilities at UK festivals in a new report.
The group suggests that new legislation and funding be put in place in order to set up interventions such as “practical, risk-reducing” drug testing at festivals and pilot drug consumption facilities in the UK.
It comes after the Home Office made a U-turn on developments to add drug testing facilities to festivals across the UK – causing an outcry from nightlife bosses. “Effectively, the home office just banned life-saving drug checking,” explained Night Time Economy Advisor for Bristol, Carly Heath.
The Home Affairs Committee has also suggested that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Misuse of Drugs regulations be updated to reform archaic drug laws and move away from an “abstinence-only” approach to harm reduction.
“Drugs continue to cause significant harm to individuals and society,” says the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Dame Diana Johnson.
“The governmental response must be able to deal with the complex harms drugs can cause and whilst the drug strategy is moving in the right direction, it requires much more meaningful action to tackle the broad range of drug-related problems.”
She added that “the right interventions” should be put in place with better support from police, health, and social services. “The Government should learn from the success as it develops best practices that can be implemented nationwide.”
The report published by the Home Affairs Committee today, August 31, also looked at laws around the production, possession and supply of drugs, and the classification of psychedelic drugs. The Committee believes that psychedelic drugs should be reclassified “as a matter of urgency” to help clinical studies and research into their medicinal properties.
The report also suggests that cannabis-based products should be supported for medicinal purposes in the UK, although it adds that the Committee “does not believe that cannabis should be legalised or regulated for non-medical use.”
Night Time Industries Association boss Michael Kill responded to the newly released report today, praising the Home Affairs Committee’s approach to drug reform.
"The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has served its purpose, but the landscape has evolved dramatically since its enactment,” he said. “Our European neighbours have taken proactive measures to address drug-related challenges, prioritising harm reduction and public safety. It is high time for the UK to catch up and adopt a more pragmatic and modern approach."
Read the full report here.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter