Government will not change drugs policy despite critical report
The Government tonight ruled out any shift in drugs policy despite a damning report by an influential group of MPs which said Britain was failing to tackle drug barons or the multi-billion pound global profits of their illegal trade.
The MPs said the current policy was not working and called for major reforms, but the Government swiftly ruled out any prospect of following the lead of several US states in decriminalising cannabis or calling a Royal Commission to examine the country's drugs policy.
The demand for a commission was the centrepiece of a 147-page report by the Home Affairs Select Committee which found that the current policy was not failing to do enough to tackle the dealers or help users emerging from addiction.
It also called for an examination of other countries which had introduced more liberal drug regimes, including Portugal where users are not prosecuted for possessing small amounts.
It warned that the failure to deal with the issue would lead to future generations being crippled by the social and financial burden of addiction. Ministers should, it said, open discussions with the UN on ways to tackle the drugs trade, including "the possibility of legalisation and regulation".
However, a Government spokesman 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."
The report called for senior bankers to be made criminally liable for the laundering of drug proceeds through their institutions – annual global profits were said to exceed $380 billion. It said the current system of fines from regulators was insufficient for complicity in an international criminal network that "causes many thousands of deaths each year".
"Without a tougher approach… the UK will remain in the absurd position of permitting the legitimate funding of drugs barons while fighting against them," said Keith Vaz, the chairman of the committee.
The committee also called for more action against the sellers of so-called "legal highs" who escape penalties even if users died after taking them. Retailers can escape current controls by putting "plant food" and "not for human consumption" on the packet, the report said.
Should the UK follow Washington's example and permit the legalisation of drugs? Join our debate.
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...