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Black communities are experiencing systemic racism through UK drug laws

Lord Simon Woolley. Credit: David Johnson/PA

Lord Simon Woolley, the former chair of the government's Race Disparity Unit believes UK drug laws are systemically racist towards Black communities.

The former government advisor believes the UK drug laws should be reviewed and updated to steer away from being an instrument of systemic racism.

Lord Woolley shares his thoughts whilst writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). In this journal he explains that this act was produced at a time that is different from today. He said:

"The Misuse of Drugs Act, which provides the primary legislation for our drug laws, was passed 50 years ago". He follows on by saying:

"It is steeped in the social context and political attitudes of the time and rooted in older, more nakedly racist tropes and beliefs". - Lord Simon Woolley

Lord Woolley also mentions that this act is a 'war on people'. The former advisor explains that by having criminalisation on drugs, it makes it harder for those people affected by it, to break away from this livelihood.

He said: "Furthermore, the economic and social exclusion and stigma that follow from a criminal record or imprisonment risk pushing people further into crime and ill health, as the opportunities for economic security diminish".

Lord Woolley also shares that the government's Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs is wanting to make change, but it has not been an easy journey.

He said: "The government’s Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs is empowered to make recommendations on changes to the law, but intense political pressure (most famously, the sacking of David Nutt in 2009) has prevented the council from serious examination of the act under which it is constituted".

To read the full essay, you can read this here


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