Drugs to be Legalised

Two prominent public health organisations have proposed that the possession and personal use of all illegal drugs should be legalised in the UK.

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The Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health said: “The government’s approach to drugs police has been unsuccessful.”

They added: “There should be a greater focus on treatment and education.”

The Home Office defended its record, by saying drug abuse had dropped over the past 10 years.

The report, called Taking A New Line On Drugs, said: “Criminal sanctions fail to deter illegal drug use, undermine people’s life chances and could act as a barrier to addicts coming forward for help.”

It also suggested that UK should embrace the Portuguese system under which people who are caught using drugs are given treatment and support instead of being punished.

However, dealers and suppliers would still be prosecuted.

The report also proposes that drug education should be made compulsory and the responsibility for drugs policy be relocated from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “For too long, UK and global drugs strategies have pursued reductions in drug use as an end in itself, failing to recognise that harsh criminal sanctions have pushed vulnerable people in need of treatment to the margins of society, driving up harm to health and wellbeing even as overall use falls.

“On many levels, in terms of the public’s health, the ‘war on drugs’ has failed.

“The time has come for a new approach, where we recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and that those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment.”

Baroness Molly Meacher, speaking on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, welcomed the report.

She said: “The current system criminalises some users of psychoactive drugs whilst very harmful psychoactive drugs including alcohol and tobacco remain legal.”

A Home Office Spokesman said: “The UK’s approach on drugs remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities and support people dependent on drugs through treatment and recovery.

“At the same time, we have to stop the supply of illegal drugs and tackle the organised crime behind the drugs trade.”

The spokesman included that there had been a decrease in drug misuse over the past decade and additional people were recovering from dependency now than in 2009/2010.

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