Home > 2008 – a crucial year for reviewing the impact of drugs policies.

Pike, Brigid (2008) 2008 – a crucial year for reviewing the impact of drugs policies. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 25, Spring 2008, pp. 1-2.

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As well as Ireland’s drugs strategy coming up for review and revision in 2008, the UK’s drugs strategy, the EU’s action plan on drugs and the UN’s 10-year drug-related targets are all up for review as well. The timeframes and approaches being used for each review process are described below in order of their anticipated completion dates.

United Kingdom: new strategy by April 2008
The 10-year UK Drugs Strategy is due to expire in March 2008, and a new strategy to be unveiled in April 2008. In preparation for this, in July 2007, the Home Office published a public consultation paper. The deadline for responses to the consultation paper was 19 October 2007, and a summary of responses was due to be posted on the Home Office web site within three months.1

Alcohol use was discussed in the consultation paper. Having considered the evidence base, the authors of the consultation paper stated: ‘Alcohol, cannabis and solvents, rather than Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine, are the substances most commonly used by young people. It is more effective to address all substances that are misused by young people, including illegal drugs, alcohol and volatile substances, rather than to focus on one type. Because drug use is often linked to other problems, it is also important to focus on the young person and their family as a whole, rather than just on substance “use”.’ 

reland: new strategy by end of 2008
In January 2008 Pat Carey TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the Drugs Strategy, stated:

‘My Department has commenced work on the development of the new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009—2016. A Steering Group has been established to oversee the development of the Strategy and it held its first meeting on 10 January. The Group includes representatives from the key statutory, community and voluntary interests involved in tackling problem drug use.
‘Over the coming months, the Group will be examining the progress and impact of the current Strategy, the degree to which it continues to be relevant and the operational effectiveness of the structures involved. They will also be looking at developments in regard to drug policies at EU and international levels. At the conclusion of the process, the Steering Group will submit recommendations to me on the shape and direction of the new Strategy.
‘I can assure the Deputy that a comprehensive public consultation process will be undertaken over the coming months as part of the work of developing the new Strategy. Indeed, I intend to be involved directly in many of the consultation meetings that are planned. I hope to be in a position to bring the new Strategy to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion by the end of this year.’ 2
European Union: new action plan by end of 2008
To support the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy 2005–2012, the European Commission prepared an EU Drugs Action Plan 2005–2008. The European Commission will carry out an impact assessment in 2008 with a view to preparing the second action plan for the period 2009-2012.3 A separate report by Niamh Randall, in this newsletter, describes the discussion with respect to the new EU action plan at the first meeting of the EU civil society forum on drug issues.

United Nations: new targets by mid 2009
In June 1998 the UN General Assembly met in a Special Session to address the world drug problem. The Session (referred to as UNGASS) culminated in the adoption of a Political Declaration committing some 150 states to the achievement of significant and measurable results in reduction of illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008. Two other resolutions were adopted dealing with Guiding Principles of Demand Reduction and Measures to Enhance International Cooperation to Counter the Drug Problem.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the central drug policy-making body of the United Nations, is responsible for the review of the 1998–2008 targets. The CND has opted for a two-stage process – a review of progress in achieving the 10-year targets to be undertaken at the March 2008 CND meeting, and consideration of future directions for international drug control policy at the March 2009 meeting of the CND.4

This process will be supported by a series of meetings on behalf of the CND during the course of 2008/09. For example, in July 2008 NGOs involved in the drugs issue will meet in Vienna to reflect on their achievements in drug control over the past 10 years, exchange ideas on promising new approaches, reach agreements on ways to work together and make recommendations to multilateral agencies and UN member states on future directions for drug control.5 (Brigid Pike)
1.The consultation paper, Drugs: Our Community, Your Say, the report on the consultation phase, Drugs: Our Community, Your Say. A Report on the 2007 Drug Strategy Consultation, and the strategy, Drugs: protecting families and communities. The 2008 Drug Strategy, were retrieved on 1 March 2008 from http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100419081707/http:/drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/publication-search/drug-strategy/drug-strategy-20082835.pdf?view=Binary. See also Pike B (2007) Civil society calls for new directions for UK drug policy. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 23: 6.
2.  Carey P (2008, 30 January) Parliamentary Debates Dáil Éireann Official Report: Unrevised. Vol. 645, No. 1, pp 413–414, PDF version.
3. The EU drugs strategy and action plan were retrieved on 8 February 2008 from the website of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index1336EN.html. See also Pike B (2005) New EU drugs strategy to add value to National Drugs Strategy. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 13: 17–18; Pike B (2005) EU action plan on drugs 2005–2008. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 14:  3.
4. The agenda and briefing  papers for the 51st Session of the CND, to be held in Vienna from 10 to 14 March 2008, were retrieved on 7 February 2008 from the website of the UN Office of Drugs Crime (UNODC) http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/session/51.html.
5. For further information, visit the website of the Vienna NGO Committee http://www.vngoc.org/detail.php?id_top=12.See also Pike B (2007) Civil society joins international debate on drug controls. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 22: 3.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Page Range
pp. 1-2
Health Research Board
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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