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Drugs update: New Substance Misuse Strategy to be developed

Drugs update: New Substance Misuse Strategy to be developed

Friday 22 June 2018

Drugs update: New Substance Misuse Strategy to be developed

Health & Social Care are to develop a new Substance Misuse Strategy, to include drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, to help "reflect the wider health issues surrounding substance misuse".

Work began on the new strategy after it was decided it was needed during a review into the current Drug & Alcohol Strategy, which is set to run until 2020.

This all comes after the responsibility for the Drug & Alcohol Strategy was transferred from Home Affairs to HSC in 2017, in a move to recognise that a more unified approach to substance misuse was required.

Now that is going to be furthered with the new strategy, HSC said, as it reflects the growing acceptance that reducing drug supply alone is not sufficient to tackle the drug problem, and that an effective response also requires measures such as prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Since the strategy was transferred, HSC took the opportunity to, in February 2018, amend the Misuse of Drugs Law 1974 in order to provide an exemption from various provisions in the law regarding all types of drugs charges.

Guernsey cannabis

Last week discussions over the future of cannabis in Guernsey took off, following a discussion in the States of Alderney, click here to read more.

While the original strategy is set to run until 2020, the new Substance Misuse Strategy will be looked at for implementation as early as next year.

"I am delighted that the Committee has agreed to prioritise this important review. It is opportune now the strategy is the responsibility of HSC to reflect the wider health issues surrounding substance misuse," Deputy Heidi Soulsby, HSC President, said.

"I am pleased that following 2 months of hard work by our Public Health colleagues we now have Committee agreement regarding a way forward with solid proposals to develop a combined Substance Misuse Strategy."

The terms of reference for this new strategy will be worked on between staff at HSC and Home Affairs, but the plan currently stands to put the focus on:

  • Conducting a joint strategic needs assessment of substance misuse in Guernsey and Alderney.
  • Using the results of the joint strategic needs assessment to inform the development of a combined Substance Misuse Strategy for Guernsey & Alderney.
  • Commissioning an external review to:
    • review the interaction of the Health and Justice Systems with respect to drug use and how this can best promote the health, wellbeing and safety of people who use drugs and of the wider community. The Committee expects that such a review will specifically consider the different approaches and criminal justice regimes of other jurisdictions.
    • a review of the evidence on the clinical effectiveness of medicinal cannabis.

The strategic needs assessment is scheduled to commence in September 2018, with the externally commissioned review scheduled to commence in October 2018.

HSC emphasised that this move was not made due to influence from recent events in the UK and internationally: "The Committee is fully aware of the changes and developments in other jurisdictions in this area of policy but are equally aware of the unique and specific characteristics of the Bailiwick. Indeed, unlike the UK, a policy is already in place that means any licensed medicinal form of cannabis on the market will be included on Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law  if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner.

"In addition, the recently announced proposals in the UK to set up a clinical group to review individual requests, following the Billy Caldwell case, replicates a process already in place here."

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