Tories invite debate on legalising cannabis

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The Tory party was accused of being "soft" on drugs last night after the official website of its youth wing invited comments on the decriminalisation of ecstasy and cannabis.

The Tory party was accused of being "soft" on drugs last night after the official website of its youth wing invited comments on the decriminalisation of ecstasy and cannabis.

In an unusual reversal, Labour seized on the website as proof that the Conservatives had been hijacked by extreme right-wingers who believed in freedom to buy and sell drugs.

The website of Conservative Future, the party's youth organisation, invites young people to give their views on a range of issues including tuition fees, the euro and pub licensing hours. Under a section entitled "You Talk, We Listen", the website, which is part of the official Tory party site, asks: "Do you believe that any illegal drugs should be decriminalised?"

Douglas Alexander MP, Labour's general election co-ordinator, said the website clearly encouraged young people to debate decriminalisation. "It seems that the debate on drugs in the Conservative Party has moved from one end of the spectrum to the other," he said. "In February, they wanted users found near schools to face tougher sentences, today they are debating whether illegal drugs should be decriminalised."

The Tories, who yesterday launched their own consultation on their drugs proposals, dismissed Labour's attack as "laughable". A party spokeswoman said: "Young people have their own views on a range of issues including drugs. We want to know what they are. This does not mean they are the views of the leader or of the party. We are a democratic party that is in touch with the views of young people."

The Tory proposals included plans to tackle drug dealers who targeted the young and improve co-ordination between drug-treatment centres.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said that the party would also look at creating a new offence of "substantial possession" of drugs, to make it easier to convict drug dealers by removing the current need to prove intent to supply.

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