The drug laws don’t work.  What can be done about it?

The drug laws don’t work. What can be done about it?

Posted On: September 7, 2011
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The ‘war on drugs’ has failed, but its end is the beginning of a new set of complex issues.  For too long, it has been too easy for governments to dismiss ending Prohibition as ‘relaxing’ or ‘liberalising’ the drug laws.  This does a gross injustice to the serious work that has been done in this area and this month, Know Drugs is co-creating a unique event to spark debate and discussion and spread a wider understanding of that work.

On Friday 16th and Saturday 17th September, we have gathered a selection of respected policy analysts and activists, filmakers, a retired Chief Constable, an MP and a range of academics to come share their ideas – and differences, about how Britain and the world could move forward if our governments were to adapt a more courageous stance in the face of a seemingly intractable problem.

Know Drugs is proud to be bringing together a range of people who do not necessarily agree with each other, except on one thing:  that Prohibition is the single biggest policy failure in the history of the ‘civilised’ world.  And that there ARE alternatives to it.

Our speakers are people who have been amassing evidence of how the ‘war on drugs’ has failed, working in their respective fields to figure out what kind of alternatives are available to us and how they might work, and pioneering treatments for those with illnesses and disorders that pharmaceutical medicine seems unable to manage.


Friday 16th September, 6:30pm to 10:30pm

Ethan Nadelmann, the founder of the US Drug Policy Alliance and one of the country’s foremost campaigners, will give a live address via Videolink from New York.

Film screening ‘The Exile Nation’

The Land of the Free punishes more of its citizens than any other country.  This collection of testimonials from criminal offenders, family members and experts on America’s criminal justice system puts a human face on the millions of Americans subjugated by the US Government’s 40 year, one trillion dollar social catastrophe: The War on Drugs; a failed policy underscored by fear, politics, racial prejudice and intolerance in a public atmosphere of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

Charles Shaw, the film’s director will answer questions about the film and his own experiences with drugs, drug use and the war on drugs.


On Saturday 17th, the day will be divided into three sessions, as follows

10am – 12pm Practical steps for today
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party ‘Brighton and Hove, a new approach to drugs’
Mat Southwell, INPUD (International Network of People who Use Drugs) ‘The Seven Pillars of Reform – how Drug Policy and Practice could be Transformed Today’
Charlotte Walsh, Law Lecturer – ‘The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: A meditation on untapped possibilties’
Niamh Eastwood, Head of Legal Services and Deputy Director, Release ‘Decriminalisation of drugs: ending stigma and prohibition’

13:30 – 15:15 Guiding Principles in a Post Prohibition World
Dr. Julie Holland – expert on street drugs and intoxication states -on ‘Treating post traumatic stress disorder with ‘illegal drugs’’ Via Videolink
Anna Waldheim – Lecturer in Medical Anthropology and Ethnobotany, University of Kent  ‘Anthropological Insights for a Post-Prohibition World’
Charles Shaw with a short film about a California medicinal cannabis dispensary
Francis Wilkinson – Chief Constable (Gwent, retired) – ‘Policing a post prohibition world’

16:00 -18:00 Creative Visions for a Post Prohibition World
Team Shulgin (Sasha & Ann Shulgin, Paul Daley, Tania Manning)
Charles Shaw –  author, film maker, journalist, openDemocracy / Exile Nation, ‘Living in the Exile Nation – overcoming second class citizenry’
Dr Axel Klein, Trustee, Transform Drug Policy Foundation & Lecturer in the Study of Addictive Behaviour ‘Post Prohibition Scenarios’
Damon Barrett, Senior Analyst: Human Rights, HRI (Harm Reduction International) ‘Children after the drug war: Lessons in ‘unintended negative consequences’’

19:00 to 22:00 Screening of ‘I’m Dangerous With Love’  with q&a with director, Michel Negraponte and Dimitri Mugianis, who features in it [via videolink].
‘I’m dangerous with love’ is about addiction and rehabilitation, activism and shamanism. Dimitri Mugianis who starts out as the heavily addicted front man for the band Leisure Class ends his long drug and alcohol addiction with an experimental treatment that uses the hallucinogen ibogaine.

ALL WEEKEND:  Interactive 16 screen video installation by Know Drugs and

The conference is brought to you but Know Drugs, openDemocracy and the Tedworth Charitable Trust.

Tickets are available from  Half price tickets are available for those on low/no income.