A new government report has revealed that there is no obvious link between tough laws and the levels of illegal drug use.
The report compared the UK with 13 other countries around the world with regards to the methods used to control drug use and after examining the variety of different approaches used, it was concluded that drug use is influenced by factors more complex and nuanced than legislation and enforcement alone.
This could be a step towards smarter drug policy according to many mental health advocates. This is because long prison sentences and harsh fines do not tackle the underlying issue of addiction.
Interestingly, it was found that there has been a considerable improvement in the health of drug users in Portugal since the country made drug possession a health issue rather than a criminal one back in 2001. Although the Home Office has said that these outcomes could not be attributed to the decriminalisation of drugs alone, Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister, Norman Baker commented:
“Treating drug use as a health matter would be more effective than presuming locking people up is the answer.”
Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg has also said that the current war against drugs is not working and asserted that evidence shows that addicts should be dealt with as people who need treatment in order to ensure that they don’t remain hooked.
Danny Kushlick who has been campaigning for the legal regulation of drugs in the UK for almost 20 years and set up the group, Transform said:
“For the first time in over 40 years, the Home Office has admitted that enforcing tough drug laws doesn’t necessarily reduce levels of drug use. Decriminalising the possession of drugs doesn’t increase levels of use.”
This new government report could also lead to better harm reduction in the UK. By allowing people to come forward and admit their problem without fear of retribution, people with a drug addiction could access help or at least receive basic supply’s to help them prevent the spread of disease.
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