Is Lynne Featherstone on the same page as Nick Clegg on drug policy?
Someone urgently needs to get a memo to Lynne Featherstone to explain Nick Clegg's drug policy to her.
Just days before her party leader sat next to Richard Branson and confirmed his ultra-liberal position on drugs, including ending jail sentences for possession and handing responsibility over from the Home Office to the Department of Health, Featherstone had a rather different message.
She was asked by Tory MP David Burrowes what the UK's policy will be on substantial changes to the international drugs control regime at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March 2015.
"The coalition government and our strategic international partners do not support substantial change to the UN drug control conventions. The Conventions provide a robust framework for tackling the harms caused by drugs. We continue to work with our partners to promote a balance and evidence-based international approach to drugs within the UN conventions."
The Conventions' "robust framework" for tackling drugs is to force all countries to ban recreational narcotics. Since 1961 it has ruined countless lives, resulted in innumerable deaths, enforced a system which funnels millions to gangsters and the black market, and shown precisely zero evidence of succeeding in its aims. Even in the last few years, it demanded Uruguay desist from legalising cannabis, saying it would "constitute a violation of the treaties on international drug control" and "pose a grave danger to public health and well-being".
Admittedly, the US has recently been pushing a more revisionist interpretation of the Convention, mostly so it can cover for its own states' decision to start experimenting with drug policy. But even the author of this new approach, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs boss William Brownfield, was busy chastising Jamaica for decriminalising cannabis last month. What the US gets up to is its own business. What smaller states get up to is apparently its business too.
If Nick Clegg is serious about his mission to adopt a more rational, harm-reducing approach to drug laws, then he needs to have a quiet word with his woman in the Home Office. She doesn't seem to have got the message yet.