Liberal Democrats Push to Decriminalize Drug Use in UK
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A new election manifesto unveiled by Liberal Democrats Monday called for the decriminalization of all personal drug use in the UK.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg laid out the party’s vision for Britain in the next parliament, which includes keeping personal drug users with no other criminal record out of prison.
“We should stop decanting hundreds of young people into prisons who have committed no other offense, but only been put into prison because of the possession of drugs for personal use,” Clegg said. “The evidence is overwhelming: doing that is often the quickest, surest route to turn that individual into a hardened criminal and an addict using harder drugs.”
Clegg, who began pushing for drug reform in the UK after visiting guerrilla fighters in Colombia, said the manifesto follows in the footsteps of Portugal, which decriminalized personal possession of all drugs in 2000.
“There are lots of other countries experimenting: states in the United States, in Latin America and Portugal, which are doing a number of different things,” Clegg said. “What we’d say is we’ll look at it and at what the evidence shows works.”
If the policies in the manifesto are implemented, it would be up to police to decide if a person caught with drugs is a user or a seller. Under the new policies, a seller would still be arrested, but a user would be “diverted into other services.” Those services can include treatment programs or any other civil punishment that does not include a criminal record.
The election manifesto also aims to legalize the widespread use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and says the party “welcomes the establishment of a regulated cannabis market in Uruguay, Colorado and Washington state.”