Legalising drugs is far from a “liberal pipe dream”, says Ian Birrell in the I newspaper. Just look at the “Canute-like futility” of the status quo. In the 50 years since the Misuse of Drugs Act came into force, the number of heroin users in England and Wales has soared from 10,000 to 250,000, and there are 30 times more drug-related deaths. While politicians play “pathetic tribal games”, vicious gangsters exploit a totally unregulated market. “Drug hysteria” in Scotland led to tighter rules on the legal prescription of benzodiazepines. Crooks duly flooded the streets with “high-potency street benzos”, sold for less than 50p a pill, and drug-linked fatalities have more than doubled in the past few years.
Portugal’s drug-related death rate is 50 times lower than Scotland’s, and the reason is simple: at the start of this century it turned drug use into a health concern. Those caught in possession are given fines or treatment referrals rather than prison sentences. Now it has one of the lowest rates of teenage drug use in Europe. Our own leaders are, shamefully, more concerned with media backlash than with the wellbeing of their constituents. But after 50 years of failure, “Westminster needs to stir from its drug-induced stupor and act to stop the suffering”.
Read the full article here.