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News (Media Awareness Project) - UK: Lib Dems Move To Decriminalise All Personal Drug Use And
Title:UK: Lib Dems Move To Decriminalise All Personal Drug Use And
Published On:2011-08-05
Source:Daily Mail (UK)
Fetched On:2011-08-07 06:00:52
LIB DEMS MOVE TO DECRIMINALISE ALL PERSONAL DRUG USE AND TO ALLOW
CONTROLLED USE OF CANNABIS

Liberal Democrats will vote to legalise cannabis and decriminalise all
other personal drug use under plans put forward for approval at their
party conference.

Nick Clegg's party bosses have given the green light for a debate on
the controversial proposal which would mean a 'regulated market' in
marijuana overseen by the Government.

The Deputy Prime Minister's aides expect party members to adopt the
plan, making it official Lib Dem policy and creating tensions with Mr
Clegg's Tory partners in the Coalition.

MPs and drugs campaigners yesterday denounced the idea as likely to
drag young people into a life of drug abuse.

The motion calls for an independent panel to examine how to set up 'a
strictly controlled and regulated cannabis market' - effectively
legalising the Class B drug. It says: 'Possession of any controlled
drug for personal use would not be a criminal offence.'

Instead of a punishment, police would send offenders to a panel
'tasked with determining appropriate education, health or social
interventions'.

The Lib Dem proposal claims that decriminalising the possession of
drugs for personal use in Portugal has not led to a rise in abuse. And
it says 'heroin maintenance clinics in Switzerland and the Netherlands
have delivered great health benefits for addicts'.

But drugs experts challenged those claims and pointed out that, while
some drug users may be better off, decriminalisation has led to
greater harm for societies as a whole.

The proposals will be opposed by the Tories as well as the Labour
Party, which got into a huge mess over the classification of cannabis.
When the Blair government reduced it to a Class C drug, overwhelming
evidence from scientists about its psychotic properties swiftly caused
a U-turn.

The plans were proposed by the Liberal Democrat constituency party in
Glasgow South, the party's young person's wing Liberal Youth and 23
individual conference delegates.

Senior party officials revealed yesterday that it has now been
approved by the Lib Dem Federal Conference Committee for debate in
Birmingham in September.

Sources close to Nick Clegg said he expects the plans to be approved,
meaning he will be shackled with the policy. It is unlikely to become
law since changes in drugs legislation do not form part of the
Coalition agreement.

After a flirtation with drug liberalisation when he first became an
MP, David Cameron has said he is opposed to the legalisation of drugs.

Mr Clegg is said to be 'relaxed' about the plans. 'He will watch the
debate with interest,' said a source. 'It is perfectly sensible for a
panel to look at these issues properly.'

David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: 'Our
prisons are full of mentally ill people damaged by drugs, and cannabis
is where they start.

Claims about Portugal are based on one study which is disputed by
international bodies. Portuguese politicians decriminalised personal
use and now they don't know how to get out of it.'

Conservative MP Charles Walker added: 'My Tory colleagues will see
sense and make sure this really stupid idea never happens. It is
obvious that drugs do a great deal of harm.

'Drugs should be illegal because it sends the right message: that
drugs are damaging.'
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