Opinion: It’s time for Nick Clegg to make the liberal case on drugs policy

The Mail on Sunday yesterday reported that the Home Affairs Select Committee report into drugs policy, reporting this morning, is going to recommend that the option of legalisation should be seriously considered and a Royal Commission should be set up to report on the issue prior to the 2015 general election.

As readers of my blog will know, I am a long standing supporter of liberalisation of our drug laws. So this report is a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned. – A sensible pragmatic look at the problems with current policy and an attempt to suggest steps that could help.

Right on cue, the government has already given its initial response. Completely unsurprisingly, they are making it clear they do not intend to do what the report suggests, before it has even been published. A government spokesperson said:

Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and blight communities. Our current laws draw on the best available evidence and as such we have no intention of downgrading or declassifying cannabis. A Royal Commission on drugs is simply not necessary. Our cross-government approach is working.

This is the same line that is trotted out by current ministers every time anybody: former ministers, senior business leaders, scientific advisers etc. try to advance this debate beyond the heavily constricted terms imposed by the government of the day. No matter what evidence is put in front of them they respond instantly to shut down further discussion.

However, this time we know that there is someone very senior in government who does not agree with this knee-jerk dismissal response. It is the second most senior minister of them all, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. We know this because back in September I interviewed him and one of the questions I asked him was on drugs policy. You can read the full interview here but the salient part of it is below:

…there are an increasing number of bodies who are revisiting this debate in the round. So, for instance, the Home Affairs Select Committee has been looking at this now for a long time and I think is due to report in December. I will be reading that very, very closely indeed. If a cross-party select committee revisits some of these issues and urges us to open them up as a government, I think the onus is on us, not them, to explain why we shouldn’t. Because every time people look at this issue on a cross-party basis in a considered fashion, it seems to me over several years now, including in the committee that David Cameron once sat, actually the advice is for radical action towards a more evidence-based approach. I will look out for what the HASC has with quite an open mind.

The onus is now on Nick Clegg to make the case for a liberal approach to drugs policy. It was clear from the interview that he is very open to discussion about alternative approaches. This report now gives him the political space to do this. It’s not a loony fringe view from some political outsiders, but a clear call for a sensible approach from a committee consisting of MPs from all parties who have taken the time to look at the evidence and speak to a broad cross-section of witnesses on this subject.

Mr Clegg also told me that he hadn’t discussed this particular issue with the Prime Minister. I very much hope that will change today and that he will make clear that the HASC report has the full backing of him and his party.

* Mark Thompson blogs here

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32 Comments

  • Nick Clegg’s answer he gave you is typical political nonsense; saying alot and yet nothing at the same time.

    If we legalise or de-criminalise drugs the gov is sending out a clear message, a message that says ‘This stuff isn’t harmful, if it was we wouldn’t make it legal’ do you propose selling cocaine and heroin in newsagents? Kids start using the stuff and before we know it an already overstretched NHS will be coping with millions of people hooked on drugs wanting support.

    Legalisation of drugs is one of the daftest, most potentially disastrous ideas i’ve heard in a long while.

  • jenny barnes 10th Dec '12 - 8:54am

    1) Recreational drugs – especially the harder ones, can be harmful in excess. that includes alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and prescription drugs taken unnecessarily, like valium.
    2) Whether legal or illegal the quantity of drugs taken depends much more on demand than the legal situation. The USA alcohol prohibition experiment should be enough evidence for that.
    3) All the harms directly related to drugs occur, therefore, whether or not they are illegal.
    4) However, if they are made illegal, further harms occur in that low end users are criminalised for no good reason; governments have to spend money on enforcement, and cannot get money from taxing it; and – most important – the world drug market is put in the hands of organised crime,
    5) It’s likely that some of the huge profits of criminal supply of drugs is used to create the climate of support for continued illegality. Were part of the illegal drug market made legal and taxed, say cannabis, a large slug of profitable business would be lost by the criminals, and benefits to the taxpayer. This would put more energy into further legalisation moves, possibly with the loss of the whole illegal market.

  • Chris, your response is typical for someone who only has experience with this topic via the mass media. Selling hard drugs in newsagents to children is exactly the picture that they are painting via DM scaremongering, and as most press reporting, is absolute nonsense.

    Please take a look at what you’ve suggested. Do you seriously believe this is what is being suggested? If so, then your naivety is only equaled by your lack of information on the subject

  • A commission on drugs policy is what Lib Dem conference reps voted for in 1994, 2002 and 2011 (alongside other recommendations in the Committee report). Frankly, what is the point in having Jeremy Browne in the Home Office – and Lib Dems in government generally – if they can’t support even the most timid of Lib Dem policies? Let’s hope they do!

  • Personally I would not want to see the legalisation or decriminalisation of any drugs.

    That opinion comes from personal experience and what drugs can do.

    Up until the age of 18, I had never touched drugs and was always very anti-drugs. One evening when out with a friend, after some encouragement, though not to blame, I decided to smoke a joint and see what all the fuss was about.

    I was already an emotionally troubled person, due to some very personal issues, but I found the experience of smoking dope helped me to escape from emotional trauma’s.
    I started to smoke more and more dope and after I had crossed that line from being anti-drugs, I thought what the heck I might as well try others, this lead to Class A drug use, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Ecstasy, even LSD at times.
    My drug use became so bad because I used more and more to escape the realities of my situation that was happening in my real world.
    Drugs provided me with a shield to hide behind.

    Eventually I cracked up, had a complete break down and the truth about my past came out. That was not necessarily a bad thing because those events led me to getting the help and support that I needed.

    But I am now of the opinion that taking one drug {dope} leads on to taking other stronger more harmful drugs.

    So from a personal point of view, I think it is very wrong to decriminalise or legalise drug use.

  • Billy Boulton 10th Dec '12 - 11:01am

    Totally agree with the thrust of this article. A more intelligent approach to drugs policy would, in my opinion, be very beneficial for s ociety as a whole. But also I think this is a good political issue to work with at a time when, most would agree, the Lib Dems themselves and certainly the public at large are not 100% clear what the party is for. It is an issue where A) the party’s line is clearly different from the Tories (and Labour) B) where the party is more or less united and C) an issue where despite the wishes of the Mail etc I believe the party is more in tune with the public than the other major parties are.

    So let’s hope Nick doesn’t let us down, although from what I’ve read about Jeremy Browne Lib Dems in Government don’t seem to have made a good start.

  • Billy Boulton 10th Dec '12 - 11:04am

    Would also like to totally endorse Adam @ 1022am

  • Chris, it isn’t necessary to continue prohibition to “send the right message”. First of all it’s quite clear that the 40 year old message isn’t getting through (if it’s even justified to use the law to moralise about good behaviour – if you’re a liberal I’d like to suggest it isn’t), but secondly, we only need to look to the model of regulation for tobacco to see that firm regulation of drugs is an excellent way to stigmatise and discourage use as usage continues to fall. Smokers are increasingly demonised and regulation is getting tighter all the time, but the important point, which should be of interest to liberals, is their right to smoke is ultimately maintained.

    No-one is suggesting drugs be sold in the newsagents, especially not cocaine or heroin. In fact we can learn lessons from the failures of past tobacco regulation and current alcohol regulation that having a too laissez-faire approach to drug regulation does cause problems. One thing you seem to be forgetting though is people who have problems with drugs (including children unfortunately) are already being treated by government, tax money is already being spent enforcing laws and incarcerating people, and for all our trouble the drugs trade brings in NO tax revenue in return as it’s all in the black economy. If the trade isn’t going away, and it isn’t, then we need to take control of it. No-one set out to become hooked on drugs, and I personally believe a regulated supply with limits on strength, quantity, health warnings on packages, taxed etc. would go a long way to reducing the harms in society, and the burden on the NHS. If we criminalised tobacco tomorrow, a highly addictive drug, smokers would be burgling properties to fund their habit just the same as they do with currently illegal drugs.

    Matt: sorry to hear about your troubles with drugs, I guess the only thing I would illuminate is the law didn’t really stop you, and I wonder if you weren’t treated as a criminal getting help would be easier. For what it’s worth I’ve dropped acid a few times and I found it very therapeutic. They effect different people in different ways, and I think that highlights the importance of good honest advice and warnings at the point of sale, which we do not have right now.

    Let me be clear, I think this is a critically important issue for the Liberal Democrats. I can only speak for myself, but it really is one of those issues, maybe THE issue, that would determine how I vote. I think it’s appalling that the government can get away with throwing this report out as soon as it’s been released, after a year of work that went into it, just like Leveson. I sincerely hope Nick Clegg and other high profile Lib Dem MPs will come out fighting on this, honestly I’m kind of sick of this debate, it goes around in circles and nothing ever happens.

  • @Mark Thompson

    I wasn’t suggesting that legalising or decriminalising would have changed my situation, There was always going to be some form of self harming escapism measures that I would have resorted too.

    I was just making the point of how I fell into drug use and what it led on too.

    My own experiences has made me form the opinion that 1 drug use, leads on to others, and that is why I am against legalising or decriminalising .
    I don’t think as a society we should be making it more acceptable for people to abuse drugs, once substance abuse becomes “acceptable” we risk friends/families/doctors ignoring warning signs of why someone has become dependant.

    Like I said it is just a personal opinion and I fear it could be a slippery slope

  • I strongly support the decriminalisation of all drugs in the UK but lets not kid ourselves here this report is more than likely going to have no impact on legislation what so ever, it’ll be brushed under the rug like all other common sense approaches pitched to the government over the years. As someone who has personally been made a criminal as a result of my previously sporadic and what I would consider safe & controlled use of a variety of drugs I find it thoroughly unfair that that just because I have chosen to use a substance that isn’t alcohol to occasionally enjoy myself that I should be deemed a criminal. Keeping any drug illegal completely throws away any control the government might otherwise have over a substance and puts the control of price, quality and distribution into the hands of people who’s only interest is to make as much money as they can without a thought to the well being of the people there selling to. The argument for not changing the legal state of cannabis because of a mental illness argument seem incredibly week to me, how many people suffer at the hand of alcohol use in the UK every year in the form of mental, physical and social abuse, yet there’s no talk of making alcohol illegal because everyone knows that it’s a ridiculous idea that just because a small percentage of users have an adverse affect to using it that we should all be tarred with the same brush, plus I’d love to ask a police officer that given the opportunity to deal with a town on a Saturday night full of people either drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis which they would prefer to deal with because I certainly know which I’d choose. Legalise it all, control it in a safe manner based on scientific evidence and for god sake TAX it and turn something that cost the country billions every year into something that makes us billions every year.

  • The use of drugs in our society both legal and illegal is here to stay. The utopia of a drug free society can never be reached and in fact who would want too. What remains is how we reduce the damage that drugs cause. The drug industry run by organised crime is a multi billion world wide trade third only to oil and wheat. The attempt to prohibit the use of drugs by Governments has resulted in far greater damage than any that could be caused by the drugs themselves. We have 60,000 dead in Mexico due to prohibition imposed on the Mexican Government by the USA. We have producer countries destabilised and corrupted by drug cartels. Our world banks are probably only just about kept solvent by the money laundered by this trade.
    We must acknowledge that well over 90% of illegal drug users use drugs without harming themselves or society as a whole. We must acknowledge that illegal drug users who consume drugs that do cause problems are not helped by being put through the criminal justice system. It does not work even Ken Clarke acknowledges this. Yet here we are with a chance to change this situation and again our Politicians do not have the backbone. I’m sure that many once out of power will say they wish they had implemented this report.
    A regulated market like that of tobacco would mean that the drugs would no longer be adulterated with anything from broken g;lass to brick dust. That users will know what strength and quality of drugs they have. That they will no longer feel demonised and discriminated against and therefore if in need of help will not have fear of criminal prosecution..
    All the old tired arguments that a regulated market will see more problem users will encourage the use by children is just nonsense.
    Yes drugs are dangerous but our present policy actually increases their danger many fold. Successive Governments have actually caused more deaths and blighted more communities with their policy of Prohibition than ever could be by one of regulation and control. Millions have stopped using tobacco without us having to imprison anyone to send a message. it is ridiculous in the extreme to think that we are sending messages to anyone about the dangers of drugs by using criminal sanctions. The only message we send is that our law on drugs is stupid irrelevant and counter-productive.

  • what kind of message does it send to society that the Government supports laws which it can’t and won’t enforce?

    what message does it send to have sanctions which represent no deterrent whatsoever?

    what sort of society does it create when kids are forced into the arms of violent and untrustworthy criminals who are unaccountable to any standard of health or safety?

    The traditional attitude towards drugs is perfectly representative of the general attitude towards corruption that saw it infest the very highest reaches of press, police and political establishments in recent years: the ‘don’t rock the boat while we sink, we’ll only sink faster’ attitude.

  • Daniel Henry 10th Dec '12 - 5:13pm

    My mum is strongly against abortion, but she’s still in favour of legalising it due to the reality of backstreet abortions being far far worse. She’d like to see the number of abortions reduced, but not by simply banning them.

    In the same way, it’s not a contradiction to be against drug usage but to be in favour of legalising them. If you believe that criminalisation makes the problems worse than better (and that’s what the evidence seems to suggest!) then it’s natural to want to see drugs legalised, and then to reduce usage through over means.

  • Tony Dawson 10th Dec '12 - 9:12pm

    Matt’s point about the damage done by social drug use are well-founded. They are far far better-founded regarding the drug which the majority of the people on here use regularly. to a greater or lesser extent.

  • All one has to do is look at the nature and number of the positive comments for ending prohibition. As a father of four young boys I would really like to see some regulation of a market completely controlled by the criminal element.
    Cameron and the Home Office are out of step with the public on this to a very large degree.

  • Richard Swales 11th Dec '12 - 8:39am

    @Matt – nothing you or anyone else writes here constitutes a reason why you are entitled to choose for someone else.

  • AlanPlatypus 11th Dec '12 - 11:21am

    Legalising ‘soft’ drugs seems like a nobrainer to me. It’s not had to get hold of cannabis even with the current drug laws. Given that people are using it regardless surely it’s better that it’s legal and taxed rather than illegal and providing funds for god-knows-what?

  • Canna can cure 11th Dec '12 - 2:57pm

    The subject regarding the decriminalisation of cannabis has always been a bias debate.

    With using cannabis yes their is health risks but theirs more health benefits if used correctly. Weather it is illegal or legal you will always find people abusing it and people using it sensibly,
    The debate saying that cannabis is got stronger yes is very true it is at its strongest ever but now for the past 4-6 years their has been cannabis breeders who have genetically modified cannabis to have less of the THC ( the High ) and more of the CBD ( the medicine ) But don’t get confused that THC is just a drug because its not, in small doses it has great pain relief and other medical benefits.

    Facts on what cannabis helps:

    1. Cancer
    There is a lot of unfounded rhetoric that states smoking pot can cause lung cancer because your inhaling smoke, like cigarettes. This simply isn’t true. Cigarette smoke causes cancer because the tobacco is radiated whereas marijuana isn’t. In fact, the American Association for Cancer Research has found the marijuana actually works to slow down tumour growth in the lungs, breasts, and brain considerably.

    2. Seizures
    Marijuana is a muscle relaxant and has “antispasmodic” qualities which have proven to be a very effective treatment of seizures. There are actually countless cases of people suffering from seizures that have only been able to function better through the use of marijuana.

    3. Migraines
    Since medicinal marijuana was legalized in California, doctors have reported that they have been able to treat more than 300,000 cases of migraines that conventional medicine couldn’t through marijuana. And that’s NOT just because it’s easy to fake having migraines.

    4. Glaucoma
    Marijuana’s treatment of glaucoma has been one of the best documented. There isn’t a single valid study that exists that disproves marijuana’s very powerful and popular effects on glaucoma patients.

    5. Multiple Sclerosis
    Marijuana’s effects on multiple sclerosis patients became better documented when former talk-show host, Montel Williams began to use pot to treat his MS. Marijuana works to stop the neurological effects and muscle spasms that come from the fatal disease

    6. Tourette’s and OCD
    Just like marijuana can treat seizures and multiple sclerosis, marijuana’s effects slow down the tics in those suffering from Tourette’s, and the obsessive neurological symptoms in people with OCD

    7. ADD and ADHD
    A well documented USC study done about a year ago showed that marijuana is not only a perfect alternative for Ritalin but treats the disorder without any of the negative side effects of the pharmaceutical.

    8. IBS and Crohn’s
    Marijuana has shown that it can help with symptoms of the chronic diseases as it stops nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

    9. Alzheimer’s

    Despite what you may have heard about marijuana’s effects on the brain, the Scripps Institute, in 2006, proved that the THC found in marijuana works to prevent Alzheimer’s by blocking the deposits in the brain that cause the disease.

    plus loads of more benefits such as general pain relief, anxiety, lack of sleep and much more. You haven’t got to be a doctor to gain this information it is spread over the internet, this 9 list of benefits i found on a US gov site.

    Just think how much medicine would need to be prescribed for all of these symptoms and diseases? compared to just one plant, yes different strains have different benefits but is it or not much more cheaper to use something natural? plus when having any of these deceases or symptoms when being treated you still get vicious side effects from drugs that are legal ( WHAT’S THE POINT IN THAT ) you are helping one thing and replacing it with another problem which if you ask the majority of poor sufferers they would rather take cannabis because of the minor bad effects it has compared to today’s prescribed drugs.

    With the risk of mental health risks you can be offered tests in the US and other countries to determine your percentage of risk of being a subject to metal health problems when using cannabis.

    With the profit margin it is huge, the tax to grow cannabis is huge. To grow cannabis properly in the uk you would need indoor equipment, that uses a huge amount of electricity and that means more tax for the government. Lets say if we introduced green cards and put a price on the cards of say £200-£300 per person, that’s more money for our country.
    Have growers who are able to grow and supply the government with cannabis creating more jobs and brining in more money.

    When people say if its legal it will make things worse, where’s the proof in that? in the US it works properly. Yes you still have dealers but no mater what you get that anyway, you have criminal tobacco dealers don’t you? YES. When people say it will be coffee shops every where, that’s stupid because that isn’t medical that’s just using it for binge purposes. I am against coffee shops but towards a medical value of the wonder drug.

    All i say is, do your homework and then decide what you think is best. And by the way at one point in the uk ( in the past ) it was illegal to have a farm and not grow a certain amount of cannabis.

    Did you know you can actually make hemp fuel to run cars? make clothing from the hemp material? use seeds for high protein intake? use material from hemp to make paper? Make soaps and shampoos?

    All of just the small amount of benefits from one plant just one plant, compared to just a handful of flaws and bias views.

    It has no known death caused by using, tobacco, alcohol, food and prescribed drugs have big numbers of deaths but they are legal. where’s the sense in that?

    I will also be talking with charities who help people living with the following illness above and the businesses in the cannabis industry regarding working together. as cannabis is an aid and possibly a cure for a lot of illness it just makes sense to work together. perhaps the business and coffee shops could give back and donate money to charities who help people with the listed illness it aids?

    Thank you for reading

  • Richard Shrubb 11th Dec '12 - 3:39pm

    The whole policy on drugs, legal and illegal needs revisiting.

    I’m a reformed alcoholic and psychedelics user who was wrongly informed my serious breakdown was caused by drug abuse. This is one of the myths that needs dispelling – generally you will have a breakdown due to circumstances not to what pills / joints / drinks you take.

    Alcohol and my current drug nicotine are arguably more harmful than psychedelics. I view alcohol as more harmful to society than most other “illegal” drugs on the market. It nearly killed me and did my sister. Anyone can be harmed by booze – even walking down the street (to be hit by a pisshead in a 2 ton car doing 70 mph / on the wrong side of town on a Saturday night with a booze crazed monster saying you looked at his bird).

    One of my fascinations with the Lib Dems, and reasons I am active in the party is that, it thinks on the quality of the argument and is not bent by vested interests – or has been until we “took power”. One of my extreme bugaboos with the party is that it fights with limp wrists. Even in government. It is high time that we stiffened our wrists and started fighting as our Coalition partners do – as a pissed monster who accuses you of looking at his bird. Perhaps then we will have a saner approach to illegal drugs?

  • alan duncan 11th Dec '12 - 8:19pm

    as my last comment seems to have vanished for some reason i will state my point again.

    what seems to have been completely overlooked by the HASC is the medicinal uses of cannabis, i firmly believe cannabis should be available on prescription for a number of different conditions/illnesses as it has been shown to be a very effective remedy.

    the comments Jeremy Browne made on tv yesterday morning were utter bollards.
    to say that cannabis is 6-7 times stronger than a few yrs ago is completely false. if anything it is possibly 2-3times stronger than it was 10-15yrs ago and that is simply down to better gardening skills. the truth is these stronger strains have always existed.

    to then go on to compare it to `downing a pint of neat vodka` is completely absurd and makes you look like you know absolutely nothing about cannabis.
    tell u what- why dont we put your assertions to the test- you get me some of this 6-7times stronger weed and i`ll smoke that and we will compare it to you `downing a pint of neat vodka` and we`ll see how you get on with that eh!

    i know if i had to down a pint of vodka i would be in quite a mess, i would probably want to fight the whole world, i would not be in control of my faculties and i have no doubt i would be throwing-up all over the place.
    this amount of vodka is enough to kill a person Jeremy. what a dangerous statement that was.

    When i was in Amsterdam last yr and tried a strain called silver haze approx 20%thc, all i wanted to do after that was go to go for a nap, so not really a good comparison to make.
    the fact of the matter is that is if somebody is going to use a very high thc content strain then you simply use less to achieve the desired effect.

    All drugs are very different from each other but you said that drugs are illegal because they are harmful when the truth is quite the opposite- drugs are harmful BECAUSE they are illegal. a legally regulated market for cannabis combined with a healthy dose of education on the substance, in particular cannabis would minimise ALL harms associated with it.
    i do not advocate the use of heroine at all but i believe there was a recent study done in Bristol where heroine was given to addicts, it resulted in a drop in acquisitive crime by over 80%. why can this not be used as a starting point for recovery treatment of heroine addicts???

    the way you were talking i actually thought you were a tory for a second, imagine my surprise when i found out you you`re a lib dem. i felt ashamed i voted lib dem in the last election by your comments.

    Mr Clegg, i think its about time you spoke out on this matter, your silence is deafening, you should be holding Cameron to account on this matter.

  • Agreed Alan, I’m really angry at how the enquiry has been tossed in the bin by the government without even as little as a debate about it, and that there’s been barely a peep from the Lib Dems either. Is there anything the party can conceivably do to revive the report and see that it does get discussed? Thoroughly annoyed at how there’s absolutely nothing to stop a government binning a year-long enquiry like that, it’s sickening, and if nothing else a complete waste of our money. Makes me wonder exactly what it will take to see progression in the absurd drug laws in this country, are we just going to have to wait until the rest of the world makes progress and drags us along kicking and screaming?

  • Tom Richards 14th Dec '12 - 9:39am
  • this is good to see.
    could i suggest that Jeremy Browne pays a visit to the cannabis college on his trip to Holland.
    Oudezijds Acterburgwal124
    1012 DE Amsterdam.

    http://www.cannabiscollege.com/
    can i challenge you to take the quiz???

  • Full legalisation, not decriminalisation, is the way. Decriminalisation turns drug possession into a minor offense, rather than a criminal offense. Here’s the thing: it should not be an offense at all. It should be a person’s civil liberty to put what they want into their own body.

    Regulation should be used to reduce the harms of these substances. No one, @Chris, is suggesting that we sell heroin or cocaine in corner shops. There are a wide range of methods that we currently use to control non-prohibited drugs. Caffeine is unregulated, and that works fine for the most part. Alcohol is sold and consumed on licensed venues — perhaps a similar approach with other ‘party drugs’ like MDMA? The license would ensure that the staff were trained in how to handle the potential risks of the drug, and to keep on eye on dosage — just like bar staff should be trained nowadays. Tobacco is sold behind the counter in shops — I see no reason why cannabis could not be sold like this. On the other hand, dangerous and addictive drugs like heroin should be harder to acquire — perhaps by prescription. A prescription system would give the heroin user easy access to treatment, ensure the purity and dosage of their hits, and dramatically shrink the criminal market, which would help to keep heroin away from non-users.

    Although the Daily Mail would despair at the idea, I would even be prepared to trial pharmacies specifically for narcotics. The shops could be run by trained pharmacists, require I.D to even enter the premises, provide honest information about the drugs, their risks and how to avoid them, and sell safe preparations of the drug in tamper-proof packaging. Honest information on drugs is difficult to come by, these days — it has become a politicised issue.

    Is legalisation a radical option? No. Prohibition is. The current law allows our government to use force against people who choose to use drugs other than the Government-Approved Recreational Drug Of Choice, alcohol. The argument from civil liberties is, I believe, a strong enough argument for legalisation in its own right. There are of course many auxiliary arguments; mainly economic — tax gained, policing money/time saved (important with so many cuts right now!) and revenue loss for criminals; or ethical — prohibition causes violence worldwide.

    You do not have to advocate drugs to advocate legalisation. You can be generally be against drugs but support reform, because legalisation is about protecting people and their rights. It is worth bearing in mind, though, if you’re ‘against drugs’, that most people use drugs. Caffeine and alcohol are drugs, used regularly by most people in the UK. If you would object to being arrested for drinking alcohol, but favour such treatment for those who choose cannabis or MDMA, then you are a hypocrite.

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