A man who lost both his sons to overdoses has called on a major rethink to the island’s drug policy, saying the current strategy just isn’t working.

Ray Lakemen from Port St Mary made the comments while speaking alongside Jane Slater from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation at a public meeting in Douglas recently.

Since their tragic deaths, he has been campaigning for drugs to be regulated to protect users and remove the power from organised crime groups.

He told the meeting that he was aware one of his sons had ‘dabbled’ with drugs but couldn’t believe what had happened when he was told.

‘My opinion prior to that was that this doesn’t happen to families like mine,’ reports Isle of Man Today's sister title Gef.

‘It does.’

‘From the moment that happened, I was trying to find out what had happened, what could we do, I don’t want any family to be in the same predicament as I am and to suffer the things that we have done ever since.

Ray Lakeman from Port St Mary who is trying to legalise drugs after the death of his to two sons to ecstasy.

‘When we came to the inquest that six months after the boys have died, one of the things that came out during the request was the notion of recreational use, they knew that there was a recreational dose for MDMA. Everybody was talking about it the coroner, pathologist, the police, the clerk of the court.

‘They knew that MDMA could be taken safely and they knew exactly what the dose was. So it was a shock to me when to realise that their deaths were, totally and utterly preventable. If we only took the brave step, say, people are going to take drugs. How do we stop this happening?

‘Because one thing that became clear very, very, obviously and very quickly is that our laws, while well intentioned, that we should stop the import, stop the supply, just doesn’t work.

‘There is a demand for these drugs and will continue to be a demand for these drugs and we’re not going to by sentencing people, having deterrent, punishments and things like that, it doesn’t work.’

Jacques Lakeman

Mr Lakeman wants to see a change in policy towards drug regulation so that people who want to take drugs can do so in a safe manner.

Having spoken to Tynwald members this week, he and they are awaiting a report from Liverpool John Moore University into the harms caused by illicit substances.

The aim of the study is to look at how common the use of illegal substances is, and the related harms to our society. This includes the impact on families, healthcare and the judicial system, with a specific focus on cannabis.

The review will be used to inform CoMin’s considerations on drugs policy.