Cross-party group of Members of Parliament argue for the decriminalisation of drugs in the UK
MP’s are putting pressure on the government for the decriminalisation of drugs in the UK. They say it should be treated as a health and not a criminal issue. Doing so would reduce the increasing numbers of drugs-related deaths.
Elected members sitting on the Health and Social Care Committee want the UK government to conduct a through consultation on decriminalising drugs. Significant funds could be saved if the justice system was relieved of processing this never ending line of drug related offences. That money saved could then be used for help people avoid addiction and treatment for those who already suffered drug-related problems. This would not only save money but also save lives they claim.
These newly released funds could be used to set up treatment centres that use alternative approaches to deal with the drug problems in society. The report claims that safe houses were addicts could take drugs in a safe environment would be a first step to tackling the problem.
Portugal’s decriminalisation of drugs seen as way forward
Portugal was used as an example of good practice in thei regard. Portugal decriminalised drugs back in 2001. The result of this action was an actual decrease in drug-related deaths, not an increase as some nay-sayers predicted.
A report from the American Drug Policy Alliance cited that there was a 80% decrease in drug-related deaths in Portugal after decriminalization.
Increased drug-related deaths in Scotland and England
In Britain, Scotland suffers the highest percentage of drug-related deaths and social problems. This is bolstered by the heroin epidemic in Glasgow. England came in close second with over 4,300 deaths attributed to drug use in 2018 alone. This represents a 16% increase on 2017.
Although statistics are not gathered for Wales separately from England, problems with drugs in this senior nation of Britain is thought to be considerably lower. This is due to the fact that Wales is a more country-focused and traditional culture. Any drug problems in Wales are usually imported from England and arise in urban centres such as Cardiff with a higher immigrant presence.
England and Scotland combined represent a higher proportion of drug-related deaths than all other nations in Europe. Recording drug-related deaths began in 1996 and the problem seems to be only increasing.
The UK government’s cold shoulder response
The Conservative party led UK government has voiced concerns over the increase in drug problems yet are treating the prospect of decriminalisation with some caution.
An unnamed UK government spokesmen was reported to have said,
“Decriminalising drug possession wouldn’t stop crime involved in illicit drug trafficking. Neither would it address the harms associated with drug dependence nor the misery this causes families.”
Should all illegal drugs be treated as the same?
What seems clear from this report was that little consideration to the types of drugs and their effects were considered.
Advocates of cannabis and its beneficial effects, such as the infamous Howard Marks, argue that it should not be lumped in with highly addictive and often deadly drugs like heroin and cocaine.
The decriminalisation of cannabis in Canada , the Netherlands and Portugal should be regarded as good examples of the way forward they argue.