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News (Media Awareness Project) - UK: Ex-Head of Mi5 Calls on Government to Decriminalise and
Title:UK: Ex-Head of Mi5 Calls on Government to Decriminalise and
Published On:2011-11-17
Source:Guardian, The (UK)
Fetched On:2011-11-20 06:00:47

Change Policy and Look at Alternative Ways of Combating UK's Drugs
Culture, Says Eliza Manningham-Buller

The former head of MI5 believes the "war on drugs" has proved
fruitless and it is time to consider decriminalising the possession
and use of small quantities of cannabis.

Eliza Manningham-Buller has backed calls for the government to set up
a commission to examine how to tackle the UK's drug culture and
consider the highly controversial move of relaxing the law.

She was speaking at a meeting held by the All Party Parliamentary
Group on Drug Policy Reform on Thursday where senior government
representatives met experts from across the world to consider ways of
combating the issue.

The cross-bench peer said the current policy was failing and it was
time to look at alternative ways of tackling the production and use
of drugs by assessing how other countries are dealing with the
problem. She believes serious consideration needs to be given to the
idea of regulating cannabis so that its psychotic effects can be
controlled more closely.

"For the next 50, years do we continue on the same well-worn policy
track which has proved so successful so far?," she said. "Or will we
acknowledge the truth, that we are unlikely to address the harm that
is being caused to the world unless we accept, as the US Senate
recently did, that much [not all] of the vast expenditure on the so
called 'war on drugs' has been fruitless?

"Would harm be reduced if cannabis was regulated so that its more
dangerous components, which can lead to psychosis, were eliminated?
Should we follow Portugal's example and focus on drug use as a health
issue rather than a crime issue?"

Manningham-Buller said there was too much of a knee-jerk opposition
to changing drug policy but it is an issue that needs to be at the
forefront of national debate.

She urged politicians to come up with a more successful way of
tackling the issue by assessing evidence that looks at how to reduce
the harmful effects of drugs in a cost-effective approach.

Christian Guy, policy director of the Centre for Social Justice,
agreed that the war on drugs was failing but said it would be
dangerous to "wave a white flag in surrender".

He added: "Giving up the fight to tackle illicit drug use now would
be disastrous; it would further fuel the social breakdown and
addiction poverty which destroys so many lives.

"It would send the wrong signal to those who are counting on our help."
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