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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Lib Dems attack ' blinkered Tory approach' to drugs

The Liberal Democrats have today attacked the 'blinkered Tory approach' to drugs policy as they tabled a series of amendments to the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the House of Lords. The party is calling on the Conservatives to delay new laws until a full review is carried out into how existing legislation is failing to stop the harm caused by drugs. Liberal Democrats say they are urging the Tories to build on the health-based approach to drugs misuse championed by the Liberal Democrats in coalition and abandon their failing ‘get tough’ policies.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Brian Paddick, who has tabled the amendments, is calling for:
  • the Government to delay moves to ban legal highs until an independent, evidence-based review of existing laws is carried out, allowing proper drafting of the legislation
  • the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs for personal use
  • the legalisation of medicinal use of cannabis when it is prescribed by a doctor

Lord Paddick said: "These new psychoactive substances - or legal highs - only exist because our current approach to drugs is failing. Instead of tackling the danger of these new drugs, this Bill is likely to make things worse. When I was a police officer, I realised that locking up drug users is simply not the answer. We have to learn the lessons of why our current approach is failing before we make the same mistakes with new psychoactive substances as we have done with other illegal drugs.

Talking about the strain on police resources Lord Paddick said: "Decriminalising personal possession will free up vital police resources to go after drug dealers, ensure addicts get treatment and social users get the education they need to keep them safe. Liberal Democrats are the only party prepared to tackle the harm drugs cause, while Labour and Tory Parties pointlessly seek to look tougher on crime without addressing the real issues."

In relation to medicinal cannabis, Lord Paddick added: "There can be absolutely no justification for serious ill people, prescribed medicine by a doctor, to be forced to become drug smugglers. We cannot continue to have a situation where people are forced to go to Holland to get prescriptions filled, and risk having their medicine seized at the border. We aren’t talking about fake prescriptions for those wishing to get high. We are talking about properly prescribed doses of pain relief for those with serious conditions. The Government needs to justify why these people shouldn’t be given access to the treatment they need."