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Reclassification and decriminalising of illegal drugs (FOI)

Reclassification and decriminalising of illegal drugs (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 29 March 2018.

Request

On 27 June 2017 the United Nations and World Health Organisation (WHO), as part of their drive to end discrimination in health care settings, called on countries to take immediate time bound action on, among other things, decriminalising the personal possession and use of currently illegal drugs.

Quote from the WHO:

"States have an immediate legal obligation to address discriminations.

We, the signatory United Nations entities, call upon all stakeholders to join us in committing to taking targeted, coordinated, time-bound, multisectoral actions in the following areas.

Supporting States to put in place guarantees against discrimination in law, policies, and regulations by:

Reviewing and strengthening laws to prohibit discrimination in the provision and distribution of health care services, as well as in relation to education and employment in the health sector. Laws and policies must respect the principles of autonomy in health care decision-making; guarantee free and informed consent, privacy and confidentiality; prohibit mandatory HIV testing; prohibit screening procedures that are not of benefit to the individual or the public; and ban involuntary treatments.

Reviewing and repealing punitive laws that have been proven to have negative health outcomes and that counter established public health evidence. These include laws that criminalize or otherwise prohibit gender expression, same sex conduct, adultery and other sexual behaviours between consenting adults; adult consensual sex work; drug use or possession of drugs for personal use.

Reviewing, strengthening, implementing and monitoring health professional policies, regulations, standards, working conditions and ethics, for the prohibition of discrimination on all grounds in connection to health care settings."

Joint United Nations statement on ending discrimination in health care settings

As a campaigner for the evidence based reform of the Misuse Of Drugs Law in Jersey, I have had absolutely no acknowledgement of my correspondence or response whatsoever after writing to the Home Affairs Minister and Deputy Ministers, Health Minister and Deputy Ministers, Bailiff's Office, States Of Jersey Police or Customs and Immigration Service regarding this matter, and therefore I have no choice but to put in a Freedom Of Information request to get a satisfactory answer that this important topic thoroughly deserves.

The United Nations and World Health Organisation were very clear that there is an immediate obligation, but eight months on from that call it is clear that the personal possession of drugs in Jersey is still being treated as a criminal justice issue instead of the health issue it is, and people still appearing in court and receiving criminal records for offences as minor as possessing less than one gram of cannabis for personal use.

So what action is the States of Jersey taking to decriminalise the personal possession of currently illegal drugs and treat the matter as a health issue?

Response

Information is already available with regard to the reclassification of certain cannabis-based medicinal products. This is distinct from decriminalising the personal possession of currently illegal drugs, which is not being proposed.

The relevant information can be found in this Freedom of Information response from October 2017:

Medicinal cannabis (FOI)

Further information is also available in another Freedom of Information response from January 2018:

Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council meeting of 12 December 2017 (FOI)

(the attached letter to this FOI request is particularly relevant).

The response from the Health Minister to this recent written question from Deputy Tadier also provides relevant information.

Written question to Minister of H & SS by Deputy Tadier tabled for 16 January 2018

Exemption applied

Article 23 Information accessible to applicant by other means

(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it is reasonably available to the applicant, otherwise than under this Law, whether or not free of charge.

(2) A scheduled public authority that refuses an application for information on this ground must make reasonable efforts to inform the applicant where the applicant may obtain the information.

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