19 November 2011

EU Cannabis Statistics Support Decriminalisation for UK

An influential cross party group of MP's and members of the House of Lords have for the first time, directly recommended ministers consider decriminalising cannabis, there-by removing the Class B substance from the War on Drugs entirely.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group chaired by former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller have for the first time, used drug use statistics from abroad to illustrate the success which can be achieved in terms of reducing crime and public health risk with the decriminalisation of drugs.

In 2001 Portugal chose to go against the UN line by decriminalising the personal possession and use of all drugs.

It was a move which drew flack from many prohibitionists.

Whilst drug trafficking still carries the risk of a heavy prison sentence, drug users are no longer targeted by police.

Those that do come in to contact with law enforcement, are steered into substance education and awareness courses as opposed to the judicial system.

But for the many responsible drug users who remain in control of their habits, they have nothing to fear from the police.

Holland is another of our near neighbours which long ago decided cannabis didn't deserve its place on the banned substances list.
The Dutch government uses a gedoogbeleid, or a policy of tolerance, which allows for the controlled use of certain soft drugs such as cannabis. 

As well as the famous Dutch coffeeshop network, which attracts as many visitors to Holland as its more traditional cultural attractions, Dutch citizens are permitted to grow up to 5 cannabis plants for their own consumption.

Keeping cannabis users away from drug dealers. Often the first point of contact for harder drugs like heroin and cocaine.

As a result the Netherlands sees 9.5% of young adults (aged 15–34) consuming soft drugs once a month, compared to the UK under prohibition which sees 13.8% of young adults getting stoned.

Also the reported number of deaths linked to the use of drugs in the Netherlands, as a proportion of the entire population, is together with Poland, France, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic the lowest of the EU.

In a direct challenge to politicians who support prohibition 'for the sake of a quiet life', Baroness Meacher said: “The Czech Republic and Portugal have decriminalised possession and use of small quantities of drugs. They have lower levels of problem drug use, lower levels of use of these drugs among young people, lower cocaine use, lower heroin use.

“It’s fairly clear that you do quite well if you have decriminalisation, so that’s one of the policies we think needs to be looked at."

In return the UK government currently remains silent.

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