|Photo: THC Farmer|
|If Britain’s Liberal Democrats have their way, personal possession of marijuana and other drugs will no longer be a criminal offense. Above, some of Britain’s finest UK Cheese.|
The United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrats are reportedly ready to call for the decriminalization of all drugs, characterizing current laws as harmful and ineffective.
According to the UK edition of the Huffington Post, Lib Dem party members are “almost certain” to back a motion next month urging the British government to set up an expert panel to consider the decriminalization of personal drug use.
If it wins support at a conference in Birmingham, the motion will become party policy. According to scene-watchers, this will likely provoke tensions with the party’s Conservative coalition partners.
The drug law reforms likely to be proposed by the Lib Dems would be based on legislation in Portugal, which successfully decriminalized possession of all drugs a few years ago, resulting in lower rates of drug use. Personal use of any drug in Portugal is no longer a criminal offense.
Under the Lib Dems’ plan, British drug users would no longer face prison or fines, but would instead be required to go for treatment or counseling — which itself could be a pointless imposition on cannabis users, especially medicinal users.
|Ewan’s Liberal Musings|
|Ewan Hoyle, founder, Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, will advance the motion|
The current penalties for dealing drugs would not change under the decrim plan.
According to the motion, there is “increasing evidence that the UK’s drugs policy is not only ineffective and not cost-effective but actually harmful, impacting particularly severely on the poor and marginalized.”
The motion points out that countries which have decriminalized drug possession have not seen increased use of those drugs, compared to their neighboring nations.
“Individuals, especially young people, can be damaged both by the imposition of criminal records and by a drug habit, and … the priority for those addicted to all substances must be healthcare, education and rehabilitation, not punishment,” the motion says. “One of the key barriers to developing better drugs policy has been the previous Labor government’s persistent refusal to take on board scientific advice, and the absence of an overall evaluative framework of the UK’s drugs strategy.”
An evidence-based policy could produce sizable savings for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, which could instead be used for education, treatment and rehabilitation programs, according to the Lib Dems.
The motion will be moved by Ewan Hoyle, founder of LIberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, and supported by Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson, the Huffpost reports.