A Chat with Policy Experts
Coming away from the sandpit, it was time to put our ideas to the test. First, we needed to find out whether our biosensor would actually be useful, and if it was, how (or even if) it could be put into practice in the real world. Consequently, we got in contact with two experts on UK drug policy, Susan Deacon, former Scottish MSP and member of the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy, as well as Anna Ross, doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh.
We headed to Susan Deacon’s office in Edinburgh, City Centre to learn more about the current political climate and prevailing attitudes towards drug policy. Thankfully, she reaffirmed our suspicions that our biosensor could in fact be sold on the free market without facing serious legal opposition, as similar testing kits already exist for retail. However, she gave us advice that would significantly change how we envisioned the implementation of our biosensor.
Deacon suggested that, instead of viewing UK law as an obstacle that needs to be overcome in order for our biosensor to be used by the public, we should consider how the government could help facilitate its use. Politicians often refer to a concept known as ‘harm reduction’ when drafting public health policy, which is the idea that we should seek innovative solutions to limit the negative effects certain acts (for example, drug use) have on society.
After Deacon’s input, we began looking at harm reduction programs that could potentially incorporate our biosensor. The National Healthcare Service (NHS) - the social health care service in the UK - funds many initiatives, and so we spoke to Anna Ross to determine potential leads. Check out the external link to our youtube video below to hear her thoughts: