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 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Ellen DeGeneres leads Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in revealing game of Never Have I Ever
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...