Tough Laws Do Not Stop Illegal Drug Use

Decades long political debate around the introduction of harsher penalties to tackle the illegal use of drugs faced a blow after Home Office released the findings of the UK’s first ever evidence based study.

The report suggests that there is no apparent link between punitive drug law enforcement and the prevalence of drug use in the UK. In other words, the harsher anti drug laws do not work at all when it comes to curbing the level of drug addiction.

Surprisingly, the findings show that treating possession of drugs as a health – rather than criminal – matter reduces drug deaths and HIV infection rates without increasing addiction levels.

It has stirred a serious debate about the effectiveness of drug laws in the UK and proposals are being drafted for a complete overhaul of the country’s 43-year-old drug laws.

Amidst the on-going political crisis, Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Baker has bashed the Conservatives, accusing them of suppressing the reports for months.

In lieu of this report, Open Counsel is of the view that a new approach must be adopted to curb the ills of drugs, without labelling and stigmatising the addict. We believe that drug addict are often themselves victims and laws must be revised to rehabilitate rather than further alienate addicts. The first step would be commencing an open debate about this issue on all forums beginning with the House of Commons.

Moreover, the domain of law and punishment should be kept as limited as possible. Illegal drug usage is one such issue where awareness, education and involvement of the society can play an effective role compared to introducing strict punishments.

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