Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 134 - 139)




  134. Good morning, gentlemen, and welcome. This is the second public session of our inquiry into the Government's drugs policy. We have received more than 160 submissions—many of them flatly contradictory—so we have to try and pick our way through the contending schools of thought. May I start by saying, first of all, our ambition is to have one main reply to each question, rather than five replies to each question. Sometimes members will direct questions to a particular individual, but if somebody else on the panel wants to add something by all means indicate and I will call you in. If I see we are getting to a stage where we are getting five replies to everything I shall have to try and pick and choose. There is no bar to two people replying to a question but indicate, please. Secondly, it will be helpful if each of you briefly could indicate the organisation to which you belong—and I know you do not all represent organisations. May we start with Mr Kushlik.

  (Mr Kushlik) I am a Director of Transform, the campaign for effective drugs policy. We are a national campaign for the legalisation of all drugs; the replacement of the Misuse of Drugs Act and prohibition legislation; which is something human, commonsense and which reduces crime.

  135. Do you have members or sponsors?
  (Mr Kushlik) We have 3,200 members.

  136. How do you become a member?
  (Mr Kushlik) We actually do not have members any more; we have supporters now. Basically, you contact the organisation. We are based in Bristol.

  137. Do they pay a subscription?
  (Mr Kushlik) They used to. We do not have subs any more. Donations are acceptable.

  138. So you are funded by donations?
  (Mr Kushlik) We are funded partly by donations, and partly by grant-making organisations. We are funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, by the Limbury(?) Trust and a number of individual donations as well.
  (Mr Davies) I am a freelance writer. I tend to do newspaper work for The Guardian. I also occasionally make documentaries. Can I take it that you have seen the material? I made a documentary for Channel 4 which was linked to a long series in The Guardian.

  139. What prompted you to take an interest in this area?
  (Mr Davies) I have been trying to do this for about 10-15 years. I have two people who are very close to me who are long-term heroin addicts. Years ago I discovered that one of them was going to a private doctor who was giving him heroin and, furthermore, taking his money. I thought that was outrageous, because heroin is a poison. I went round to verbally or physically assault the doctor, who turned out to be a very powerful, charismatic woman who said, "You don't know what you're talking about. Your whole aggression is based on assumptions about heroin which aren't true". She persuaded me over a period of time (because I was extremely reluctant to believe her, because it goes against everything you have been told) to look at the facts, and then to look at the implications of those facts once they had been checked out. Then I encouraged the person who was going to her to continue going to her and get away from the black market and to get the drug from her.
  (Mr McNicholas) I am the Editor of a magazine called Muzik published by IPC Media. We have around 50,000 readers. It is a dance music magazine. It deals with club culture and youth culture in general. Prior to that I was news editor on another magazine called Mixmag that publishes the most extensive annual survey of drug use amongst young people.

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