DonorsNewsOCFAnne-Marie outside the Houses of Parliament

Our fundholder Anne-Marie Cockburn, who lost her daughter two years ago to an accidental ecstasy overdose, has joined other bereaved families to petition Number 10 for the legalisation and regulation of psychoactive substances. 

The group of families, who connected with each other as part of Tranform’s Anyone’s Child project, stated in their letter: “We are a group of ordinary families who have joined together because we share the grief and sorrow from having loved ones who have been hurt by our failing drug laws. We have come to the conclusion that not only do our drug laws harm and kill, but that legally regulating drugs through pharmacies and doctors, rather than street dealers, would have better protected our loved ones. In fact, some might still be alive if drugs were under strict government control.”

On Monday Anne-Marie will commemorate two years since her only child Martha Fernback died after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder, also known as ecstasy, which turned out to be 91 percent pure. In an interview with the BBC World Service (available here at 33:28), Anne-Marie said: “Criminalising access isn’t a deterrent, because when I talk to the children, a lot of their friends are doing it, a lot of them are doing it. One of them got offered drugs 17 times in one night – when does the no become a yes? It’s become normalised for some teenagers, because of the prevalence of it; so if things were labelled, with dosage information, then they could make more informed decisions.

“If legalised drugs inadvertently got into the hands of younger people they would be safer than they are at the moment. Martha would’ve read the label and taken less.”

Since she lost her daughter, Anne-Marie has written a book that charts the months immediately following that terrible day, and has set up a named fund with OCF to channel donations in Martha’s memory, as well as 10% of the proceeds of the sale of her book. Most recently she has been running workshops in schools, helping teenagers to think carefully about offers of drugs. By talking about Martha and showing how the loss has affected her life, Anne-Marie is able to provide a unique insight in order to help young people think about their own lives and consider ways they can keep themselves safe.

If you support Anne-Marie’s cause, please consider donating to her fund, which you can do online on her JustGiving page.