The outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Ian Gilmore, has said the laws on misuse of drugs should be reviewed and that their supply should be regulated.
While there are many superficial benefits, I have never supported decriminalisation because there are a number of basic questions that have not been properly thought through.
For example, from what age do you decriminalise drugs? Should it be 18, as with alcohol? Then what about the 14, 15, 16 year olds in our towns and cities who are using? Do you leave under 18s in the hands of “violent gangsters”? Or do we say there is no minimum age? There can be nobody in their right mind who would advocate drug use amongst children.
Would we place restrictions on users? For example, would we require users to forfeit their driving licences since some drugs stay in the system for 4 weeks and influence reaction time and other performance?
Would we say that users should be allowed to have custody and responsibility for children? We know that incidents of domestic violence and child abuse increase due to alcohol use. Are we certain that by giving respectability to drug use that there will not be similar increases in neglect?
Do we really want to write off hundreds of thousands to a life of worklessness and benefit dependency? I wouldn’t employ someone who is drunk at work, nor would I employ someone who is under the influence of drugs. Most employers want clear minded, focused employees.
Alcohol use is closely related to availability. Things have become so much worse since the last government liberalised alcohol availability. It seems shear lunacy to go down the same road with drugs and expect to arrive at a different destination.
Research by Exeter University identified its illegal status as the main reason why the majority of 15 year olds don’t experiment with cannabis
I support the policy changes being introduced by the coalition government to champion abstinence. Policy for the last 25 years has often resulted in addicts being supported to stay on drugs. I welcome the government’s greater ambition to commit itself to helping people to come off, and stay off, drugs.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are extremely harmful and can cause misery to communities across the country. The government does not believe that decriminalisation is the right approach. Our priorities are clear; we want to reduce drug use, crack down on drug-related crime and disorder and help addicts come off drugs for good.”
I think the government has got it just right.