Norman Baker calls for a radical change in British drugs policy
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
The UK's drugs laws need radical change, Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Norman Baker has said today.
Norman's call comes as the government publishes a major report on drugs policies around the world.
The report finds that tough criminal sentences for drug users make no difference to the rates of drug use.
The Home Office's "Drugs, International Comparators" study looked at different approaches to drugs policy and treatment in a number of countries including some from countries that have harsh criminal sanctions for users and some that have effectively decriminalised the possession of drugs.
Welcoming the report, Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Norman Baker said its findings show that the government needs to follow the evidence and be brave enough to change drug laws in the UK.
The Liberal Democrats advocate scrapping prison sentences for people whose only crime is possession of drugs, instead directing them to get health treatment. We also want to move the responsibility for the Government's drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.
We want to crack down on the criminal gangs that supply illegal drugs but help users and those who suffer from drug addiction to get the education and treatment they need.
Norman Baker said: "The Liberal Democrats believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough. If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.
"For too long successive governments have been unwilling to look at the evidence. This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.
"It's time for a radical change in British drugs policy. The fact is we should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs' and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars."