Newsbrief: British Opposition Promises Tough New Drug War if Elected 3/4/05

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/377/ukcons.shtml

As British Conservatives gear up for elections in May, they are staking out a tough anti-drug position. So is Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Labor Party, but the Tories are trying to one-up them. At a February 23 news conference, Tory party leader Michael Howard laid out his anti-drug program, emphasizing plans to enact mandatory minimum seven-year prison sentences for three-time drug dealing offenders.

"People will face a clear choice at the next election: tougher sentences and more police with the Conservatives or lenient sentences and more talk from Mr. Blair and the Liberal Democrats," Howard said, attempting to trump tough anti-drug talk from Blair in recent weeks.

Howard also criticized the reclassification of marijuana under Labor, blaming the government for sending young people "mixed messages" about drug use. If elected, the Tories would reverse that decision, he said.

Howard promised a massive expansion of drug treatment facilities, which his government would use as a hammer against drug use. "Of course some children will get into drugs. We have a duty to offer them the chance to change -- the chance to go straight," he said. "So a Conservative government will give them a choice: rehab or prison."

Howard said he would expand drug treatment beds ten-fold. "In Britain today there are fewer than 2,500 residential rehab places available for young people. We will expand this massively, providing 25,000 residential places for hard drug users where they can spend six-months getting intensive treatment to get them off drugs. "That's enough to help 50,000 addicts a year. It will allow us, over the course of a year, to treat every young teenage drug addict in Britain."

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Issue #377 -- 3/4/05

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