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Britain's drug policies are not working, say MPs

A new report by MPs wants drug laws overhauled – and retailers of ‘legal highs’ to be held liable for any harm the products cause.

Image: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

BRITAIN’S DRUG POLICIES are not working and the government should launch a full review of the issues, including the possible decriminalisation of cannabis, MPs said in a new report published today.

Parliament’s home affairs committee called for more action to combat the use of drugs in prisons and to help addicts when they leave jail, and to clamp down on dealers by prosecuting senior staff at banks that launder their money.

It wants retailers selling untested psychoactive substances – so called ‘legal highs’ –  to be held liable for any harm the products cause, as well as a greater focus on the rising dependency on prescription drugs.

The MPs also said they were ‘impressed’ by the decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal, saying it “merits significantly closer consideration”, and urged the government to monitor the progress of new US state laws legalising marijuana.

“After a year scrutinising UK drugs policy, it is clear to us that many aspects of it are simply not working and it needs to be fully reviewed,” said committee chairman Keith Vaz, a member of the opposition Labour party.

We cannot afford to kick this issue into the long grass. We have recommended that a royal commission [public inquiry] be set up with an end-date of 2015.

However, the government rejected the recommendations.

“Drugs are illegal because they are harmful –  they destroy lives and blight communities. Our current laws draw on the best available evidence and as such we have no intention of downgrading or declassifying cannabis,” a spokesman said.

“A royal commission on drugs is simply not necessary. Our cross-government approach is working.

“Drug usage is at its lowest level since records began and people going into treatment today are far more likely to free themselves from dependency than ever before.”

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Patients not responding to antidepressants ‘more likely to get better with therapy’ >

Read: Pharmacists: Increased prescription charges may lead to people being hospitalised >

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