In a statement from the Liberal Democrats, the party has announced that they would like to effectively decriminalise drugs for personal use. Instead, they believe that drug use is a health issue which needs treatment not incarceration.
To this end, the liberal democrats have said they want to remove the drugs and alcohol policy from the home office brief and give it to the department of health. They said that the £5 million used each year to jail around 1,000 people form person drug use in the UK would be better spent funding treatment and community level measures. This could include fines for possession and warnings to deter users.
The idea is to discourage drug use without making it a criminal offence. By doing this the proponents of the plan believe they will be able to reach and help more people. Currently, just admitting to taking illicit drugs could incur a prison sentence in the UK. This makes drug abuse secretive, and drives users into the shadows, away from help.
By decriminalising drug abuse, addicts will be encouraged to come forth and admit their problem without fear of reprisal.
Removing the criminality of addiction could also help ease some of the stigma surrounding the disease. Currently many people still view addiction as a character flaw or a weakness of will and character. This only alienates those suffering with addiction and makes it harder to seek treatment.
This new recommendation is based on a 6 year study which found that allowing possession of certain drugs for personal use only could help fight addiction. The report, which was created by the UK Drug Policy Commission, found that, "The evidence from other countries that have done this is that it would not necessarily lead to any significant increase in use, while providing opportunities to address some of the harms associated with existing drug laws."
The idea has already been rejected by the Home Secretary Theresa May.