UK drug laws need major overhaul, independent body concludes
AN INDEPENDENT body has called for a 'wholesale review' of drug classification and policy in the UK.
The final report from the UK Drug Policy Commission's six-year study concludes that the government is wasting money and damaging lives by spending money on measures which are not proven to cut illegal drug use.
A Fresh Approach to Drugs, published on Sunday, said drug policy should focus on reducing the risk of harm to users and others.
The report also said programmes designed to prevent young people from using drugs 'have been shown to have little to no effect'.
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The commission does not call for the decriminalisation of drugs, but concluded major reforms are needed.
The recommendations included reviewing the classification system, which the commission said has significant weaknesses and has lost credibility, reducing sanctions for drug possession, and reconsidering penalties for all drug offences.
"Just like with gambling or eating junk food, there are some moderately selfish or risky behaviours that free societies accept will occur and seek to limit to
the least damaging manifestations, rather than to prevent entirely," the commission said.
"We do not believe that there is sufficient evidence at the moment to support the case for removing criminal penalties for the major production or supply offences of most drugs."
The report added: "There is evidence to suggest that the law on the possession of small amounts of controlled drugs, for personal use only, could be changed so that it is no longer a criminal offence.
"Criminal sanctions could be replaced with simple civil penalties, such as a fine, perhaps a referral to a drug awareness session run by a public health body, or if there was a demonstrable need, to a drug treatment programme.
"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."
You can read the full report of the study, run by University of Maryland Professor Peter Reuter, and Alex Stevens of the University of Kent, online here
What do you think about the commission's conclusions and the government's current policy towards drug use? Do you think people caught with a small amount of controlled drugs should be subject to civil sanctions or criminal penalties? What do you think the most effective deterrent to drug use would be? You can have your say by voting in the poll on the right of this page, leaving your comments below or emailing email@example.com