Nick Green QC is chairman of the Bar Council, the professional organisation of barristers in the UK. Writing in the organisation’s magazine this month, Green called for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, arguing (rightly) that a growing body of evidence supports the proposition that decriminalisation can have a number of positive consequences for drugs users and society.
He lists the freeing up of police resources, the reduction of crime and the revolving door of imprisonment as peace dividends of ending the drug war, alongside improved public health. Noting that much of the mass media are given to moralising gestures and the whipping up of panic when it comes to drugs, he argues that the Bar Council, made up of lawyers and counting most judges amongst its ex-members, is in a good position to provide a rational argument, being familiar with both sides of the drug policy argument.
Mr Green’s intervention represents another profession speaking out in support of drug law reform at a time when the tide appears to be turning away from the prohibitionist model that was tried throughout the twentieth century, failed to suppress the flow of illegal drugs and added its own side-effects (including an entrenched criminal market and a global epidemic of injection-driven HIV) to those of the drug problems it was supposed to prevent