London Met hosts Innovative Drugs Policy conference

London Met brings together world-renowned experts for one day event.

Date: 2 November 2018

Experts and researchers from as far afield as Uruguay and Portugal came together to discuss contemporary drug policies at London Metropolitan University on 1 November. 

The aim of the conference, Street Drugs in the Big Smoke, was to explore present-day drug policies and related research from around the world, looking at how novel and innovative approaches can reduce drug related harms.

Professor Lynn Dobbs, Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, opened the event with a call for evidence based policy making;

“This approach offers the potential to explore such issues as drug safety testing, issues around the regulation of street drugs, the current criminalisation mode, and the importance of putting science and evidence at the heart of UK drugs policy rather than politics. It also offers an international approach by drawing on examples from overseas, from Portugal and Uruguay, where we can draw on experiences of decriminalisation to consider the impact on overdoses, HIV infection and drug related crime. It is incredibly important that Universities are involved in debates concerning research and policy.”

The audience, a mixture of students, academics, policy makers and practitioners, heard from eight speakers in total throughout the day. Their backgrounds ranged from a former undercover drugs detective sergeant, to a government health commissioner.

Professor David Nutt (pcitured), Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit at Imperial College London, and a well-known figure in the ongoing discussion of UK drugs policy, was there to speak on the day.

Professor Nutt outlined how he sees ‘significant flaws in current drug policy’, touching upon how ‘the punishment [for drug possession] is currently disproportionate to the harm they cause.’

Professor Nutt also spoke on the recent ‘Spice’ epidemic, explaining that this dangerous and complex drug now used on the streets daily is ‘forced onto a market made up of vulnerable people’, and in the government’s attempts to tackle the epidemic and halt its production, they have ‘banned over 100,000 chemicals which are used in important academic and medical research’.

Street Drugs in the Big Smoke was a joint venture between the British Association for Psychopharmacology and the British Society of Criminology. It was organised by Dr. James Morgan, senior lecturer in Criminology. Dr. Morgan was assisted by Dr. Chris Chandler, Head of Psychology, and Devinder Curry, Principal Lecturer in Criminology and Policing, in putting on the conference.

Jo Neill, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Manchester, and President of British Association for Psychopharmacology, also helped organise the conference.

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