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British MPs Call for Drug Decriminalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #767)

The use of drugs should be decriminalized, with the least harmful substances regulated and sold in shops, a group of British parliamentarians said in a report released over the weekend. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy reform made its findings in the report Toward a Safer Drug Policy: Challenges and Opportunities Arising from 'Legal Highs'.

The report said that the 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act needs fundamental reform because it criminalizes young people for drug use, leaving them with reduced life prospects, while creating profits for illegal drug dealers. Instead, "low risk" drugs should be handled like cigarettes, with legal sales and warning labels, while higher risk drugs should be decriminalized, the peers found.

"The Misuse of Drugs Act is counterproductive in attempting to reduce drug addiction and other drug harms to young people," said group chair Baroness Meacher.

The group took submissions from 31 experts and organizations, including the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Association of Chief Police Officers. It called for the classification of drugs to be removed from the realm of politics and instead be based on scientific evidence.

This is the third report in recent months to call for fundamental changes in British drug policy and a move away from a prohibitionist approach to a public health one. The UK Drug Policy Commission released its Final Report in October 2012. The Home Affairs Select Committee published the findings of its Inquiry into Drugs in December 2012. All three reports make a strong case for changing British drug policy to better reduce harms posed by drugs to our population, and to take a greater consideration of evidence in doing so.

There is little sign Prime Minister Cameron is listening -- despite his own past support for legalization. Still, Cameron's ally in the governing coalition, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has been paying heed, saying he could support drug decriminalization, and that is causing tensions over drug policy at Whitehall.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Paul Pot (not verified)


For the first time and at the same time Britain, America and Australia all have leaders who are self confessed marijuana smokers and also happen to be total hypocrites on the subject. It was OK for them to do it and get away with it but there is no way on earth they are going to let the rest of us get away with it. No chance for us to rise above our circumstances. We just have to suffer that conviction and live with lawfully applied discrimination for the rest our lives. But when a president talks about his past indiscretions everyone in the room can have a chuckle cause it's so funny he/we got away with it while the poor schmucks get busted. Prohibition is a dirty, filthy class war. And the current leaders of Britain, The US and Australia will not raise a finger to help anyone. Their replacements however, judging by changing public sentiment, may be another story.

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 11:04pm Permalink
Skunk Monk (not verified)

David Cameron the UK governments leader has used cannabis and cocaine for several years and if he was not in a privileged position he could have gone to jail for up to 20 years. The posh parties he went to would have had large quantities of drugs and an ordinary person(pleb in his eyes) would have been charged as an importer  or large scale dealer thus resulting in a lengthy jail sentence. A large amount of countries have prominent celebrities and politicians that have used drugs and are not treated like animals and jailed and put in a cage for simply getting high like their pleb counterparts.

In a BBC article on todays news a senior UK police officer said the health department and not the police should deal with drug users instead of arresting them but in the same news article a ridiculous government official said this not going happen because of the harm that this would do to children. What a disgraceful and misleading statement to try and use this stupid argument to try and get parents to hate all drug users when most people sensibly know that children should never have access or use drugs. Their policies may actually be helping do the opposite. I think that there should be a new prohibition enforced on politicians that are idiotic and that tell outrageous lies and it is these distasteful unscrupulous liar's that should be put in jail for the harm that they are causing to todays society.

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 3:53pm Permalink

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