Synod Puts Drugs on Church Agenda
Garner, Clare, The Independent (London, England)
FOR THE first time in the General Synod's 27-year history, drugs are on the agenda. Next month members of the Church of England are to debate drugs policy, including the decriminalisation of cannabis and the prescription of heroin.
The Rev Kenneth Leech, a community theologian at St Botolph's, Aldgate, who has worked in the drugs field for the past 35 years and who is in favour of the decriminalisation of cannabis, has written a background report for the Synod debate.
In his paper, entitled: Drugs and the Church, he criticises the Government's "failure to see how drugs policy has itself helped to produce the present appalling situation." Of the Government's White Paper: Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain, published in April, Mr Leech writes: "The most positive aspect of the document is the recognition that treatment costs less, and works better, than prohibition. However, the long-term policy implications of this recognition need to be taken more seriously than any government has so far done." Apart from an information pack produced by the Board for Social Responsibility in 1986, the last publication on drugs from an official Church of England source was a booklet, also by Mr Leech, entitled: The Drug Subculture: a Christian Analysis. His previous booklet was published in 1969 and warned of the dangers of abandoning the prescription of heroin. Mr Leech was asked by the Church's Board for Social Responsibility to write a report for July's General Synod in York on account of his broad experience of the drug scene. …