Because of the stigmas and taboos around banned drugs, people worried that the drug reform community wasn’t united or visible.

Should we legalise everything?

Will Tregoning

Many people are on the same page about the urgency of drug policy reform. 

But when it gets down to the nitty gritty of it, strong opinions and personal experiences come into play. 

Unharm recently invited the community to debate all this – and more. 

February’s community conversations saw members from the community come together to add their voice to the drug legalisation debate and help set the agenda for upcoming policy work. 

First up, we wanted to know: should we legalise all drugs?

There were hard questions and honest questions. Here’s what the Community Leadership team learnt. 

Aspirations for the community

These conversations always kick off with a discussion about what kind of community people want. In this round we asked people to think about a specific community – a community of people interested in drug law reform. 

What we heard is that people want a brave community that is committed to the idea that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities, and effective in winning reforms.

Main concerns

People were concerned about the fact that, even in the drug reform movement, drug use is sometimes talked about as if it was inherently unhealthy and abnormal. They were also concerned that people are treated differently based on what drugs they use, even within the reform movement. Some people called this ‘drug apartheid.’ Because of these factors, and the stigmas and taboos around banned drugs, people worried that the drug reform community wasn’t united or visible.

People also talked about how difficult it is to strike a balance between acknowledging the different risks that exist with different substances, while also getting the broader community to understand and focus on other factors like poverty, discrimination and criminalisation as the main cause of problems.

At the same time, people are concerned that the drug reform movement tries to do too much at once, and gets lost in complexity, rather than focussing on the most achievable reforms.

Actions to make a difference

People wanted to see a focus on campaigns with clear, winnable targets, messages that resonate with the broader community, and spaces and support to enable people to bring their lived experience into their drug reform advocacy.

Questions people had for use were about how to get more involved, which messages work, and what resources they could share with other people to help them understand the need for reform.

The Unharm team will be using these insights to inform our strategy for the year ahead. 

What do you make of what we’ve learned? Do you have ideas for how we could use what we are learning?

Please get in touch at [email protected] with the subject Community Conversations. It would be great to hear from you.

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