Diane Abbott declares war on drugs a failure – but rules out Labour legalising cannabis

A Jeremy Corbyn government would crack down on the 'gigantic Ponzi scheme' that is Bitcoin

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 01 March 2018 17:18 GMT
Diane Abbott ruled out 'the legalising of cannabis for recreational purposes'
Diane Abbott ruled out 'the legalising of cannabis for recreational purposes'

Diane Abbott has described the war on drugs as a failure – but has ruled out Labour legalising cannabis.

The Shadow Home Secretary also revealed that a Jeremy Corbyn government would crack down on Bitcoin, which she called a “gigantic Ponzi scheme”.

Ms Abbott likened the threat posed by cryptocurrency to the failure of regulation which triggered the worldwide economic crash and recession a decade ago.

“If everyone took their Bitcoin money and tried to buy a new car all at once the whole thing would collapse,” she told Parliament’s House magazine.

And, asked if, Labour would introduce restraints, she added: “Labour overall thinks it’s important to have proper regulation of financial services.

“It was poor regulation of financial services which led to the 2008 crash and obviously regulating Bitcoin would be part of that.”

Nick Clegg put the legalisation of cannabis on the political agenda, last year. The Liberal Democrats backed it at the general election, insisting it would improve public health and net the Exchequer up to £1bn in taxes.

But Ms Abbott said: “It is not Labour’s policy to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes. We would not be discussing the legalising of cannabis for recreational purposes.”

However, she said Labour would expand drug treatment facilities as a better way to cut the numbers of addicts than the criminal justice system.

“What we all have to accept is that the war on drugs - particularly the international war on drugs - has failed,” Ms Abbott said.

“It’s turned countries like Colombia into narcotics paradises. And, far from the war on drugs succeeding in any way, what we have seen is a contributory stream of drug addiction with people in America being hooked on opiates and the consequences of being hooked on opiates is just as bad as heroin or cocaine or anything else and it’s cut a swathe of damage through middle America.”

She added: “We are not seeing, in this country, falling numbers of addicted people, so I think we do have to look at what we are doing and what’s working and what’s not working as the case may be.

“I certainly think we want to make it much easier for people to get treatment who are drug addicted.

“In Hackney [her constituency] for instance, it’s quite hard to get inpatient treatment which for some people is the only answer so certainly we need to look at better facilities for treatment for people with drug issues.”

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