MPs' group: legalising drugs works

The Government should consider legalising some substances because the war on drugs is not working, a group of MPs and peers said yesterday.

Baroness Meacher, chairwoman of the All Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, said there were clear examples abroad showing appropriate regulation of drugs can help cut crime. The group, which includes former MI5 boss Baroness Manningham-Buller, concluded that a new approach is needed in the UK.

Baroness Meacher told BBC's Radio 4 Today programme: "I think we need to look to the evidence. We have evidence from a lot of different countries about what works rather better than what we do in the UK.

"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."

But Christian Guy, policy director at the Centre for Social Justice, told Today that "waving the white flag" on drugs was the wrong approach.

He said: "I would agree that the war on drugs has been failing but what I'm concerned about is the idea we should stop fighting it and wave the white flag to these criminal gangs... It is dangerous to simply say that something is now right because we are not working out how to tackle it and say it's wrong."