The Beckley Foundation is a leading drug policy think-tank in the UK. It has advocated, since its inception in 1998, evidence-based, health-orientated, harm-reducing, cost-effective drug policies, which recognise human rights.
The Foundation has a long-standing reputation for producing high-level academic reviews of the effectiveness of national and international drug policies, and for developing new approaches. Over the years it has had much success in influencing policy makers, academics and other experts both in the U.K. and abroad. It draws on its highly respected scientific advisory board and its extensive network of scientists, policy analysts, politicians, academics, physicians and other experts and influential world figures. The Beckley Foundation was granted special consultative status at the UN in 2008.
The Foundation was created and is directed by Amanda Feilding in 1998 and was one of the first organisations to generate evidence-based material about drug policy. By highlighting the taboos and misconceptions within the sphere of national and international drug control its endeavours have resulted in significantly increased support by politicians, academics and the public for a more pragmatic, health-oriented approach to drug policy. It has commissioned over 35 much-cited cutting edge Drug Policy Reports, including the Global Cannabis Commission Report.
It has also hosted eight highly successful international Drug Policy Seminars, at the House of Lords, London, entitled ‘Society and Drugs: a Rational Perspective‘, these have been noted for their pioneering content and open debate (protected by Chatham House Rules). They also provided a platform for figures who have become major figures in changing public perceptions of drugs (Professors David Nutt, Colin Blakemore, Robin Room, Peter Reuter, Sir Ian Gilmour, Sandeep Chawla, Bob Ainsworth MP and many others). The summaries of these seminars are available in the Proceeding Documents.
The Beckley Foundation Global Cannabis Commission was later co-published with Oxford University Press as “Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate” which was disseminated worldwide and provided the blue-print for global cannabis policy reform. For the first time it brought attention to the fact that cannabis was ignored in international drug policy although it represents 80% of the illegal drug trade and without it the War on Drugs would collapse.
Among the major changes that has come about because of the Beckley’s work is the influential Rational Scale to Assess the Harm of Drugs of Potential Misuse published in the Lancet in 2007. This grew out of discussions in 2003 with Amanda Feilding and Professor Colin Blakemore, who presented the evidence at the Beckley Foundation seminars in 2003 and 2004.
Other achievements of the Beckley include the setting up of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), chaired by Mike Trace and the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP), chaired by Prof. Peter Reuter both now influential organisations within the drug policy reform movement.
The Foundation is in the unique position of having great credibility in both the scientific and political arenas for its work. The Beckley Foundation initiates and directs scientific research into the harms and potential clinical applications of individual drugs, currently classified as illegal. It investigates the physiology and pharmacology of cannabis and its constituents, psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and ‘legal highs’, including mephedrone, in order to better understand how these compounds work, whether they have beneficial properties and further to inform policy makers about how best to regulate them in order to reduce the harms associated with their use and current controls.