Debate: Should the UK follow Washington's example and permit the legalisation of drugs?

Related Topics


What's going on?

A group of influential MPs has released a damning report that calls on Government to reconsider its drug policies.

The central demand in the MPs' 147-page review is that Britain establish a commission for reform, since the current policy is both failing to tackle the drug barons at the heart of the illegal trade and doing too little to help users emerge 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.

Ministers should, it said, open discussions with the UN on ways to tackle the drugs trade, including "the possibility of legalisation and regulation".

But the Government quickly moved to quash debate last night and ruled out any shift in drugs policy. Should they have listened more closely?

Case for: Change is coming

What really discredits the case for legalisation is the number of pot-heads parroting half-baked arguments and plastering "Legalize" posters across their student hovels. This report, however, comes from quite different pedigree. And its case is unanswerable. Each year drugs cost thousands of lives and billions of taxpayer's money. With a sensible programme of reform, we could minimise the harm done to users and reduce the seismic economic impact of abuse. The example from America is clear. Change is coming. Britain should lose the stuffiness and move with it.

Case against: Spreading Disaster

The natural (and probably immediate) consequence of decriminalisation or – even worse – full legalisation will be a drastic increase in consumption. On what possible grounds is the drastic increase in consumption of highly addictive and ruinous substances individually, socially, or morally desirable? In any case, as Peter Hitchens argues in his book “The War Never Fought”, the point about the alleged ‘War on Drugs’ is not that it was ineffective; it’s that we never actually fought it. An excessively soft approach means we are, in effect, admitting defeat before engaging in battle. That is what cowards do.

React Now

The UK should legalise drugs

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn