Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Six out of ten Britons believe there is no point in criminalizing drugs

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A clear majority of UK voters seem to believe that the UK’s 50-year “war on drugs” was pointless, with new polls suggesting that six in ten people think drug illegality is an ineffective remedy is to prevent the use of drugs.

The results of YouGov’s survey are consistent across the political spectrum, with less than a quarter of all respondents believing that criminalizing the use of a drug is an effective way of preventing its use.

This rose to 28 percent for Tory voters and fell to 20 percent for Labor voters. Accordingly, 59 percent and 67 percent respectively considered criminalization to be ineffective.

When further urged, however, most voters supported a level of criminalization – 36 percent advocated equal treatment of drugs as a health and crime problem, 28 percent advocated health only, and 24 percent believed it was only a criminal matter.

In response to a damning independent review that found England’s lack of money drug treatment system “ineffective” and urged ministers to recognize “that addiction is a chronic health condition,” the government recently “adopted a comprehensive, holistic approach to health.” on the fight against drugs ”and has set up a new intergovernmental drug department.

But despite efforts to further involve health officials in its fight against drugs, the government is stepping up its tough approach to drug policy “from the middle class of cocaine users and introducing” more drug testing on arrest. “

With drug-related deaths in England and Wales reaching all-time highs for the eighth straight year, with most deaths being attributable to opiates, the Home Office is also considering criminalizing possession of laughing gas, also known as laughing gas.

The government cited a “worrying” increase in drug use among young people. However, data from the Office of National Statistics suggest that consumption, although above 2013 levels, has remained constant over the past four years.

Following the analysis of experts calling for “smart education, not blunt regulation”, YouGov found that people in the UK widely believe that nitrous oxide is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and, of the 12 drugs, the least harm Society causes listed.

On the broader issue of criminalization, YouGov’s findings also appear to put the UK population at odds with the government’s longstanding approach to drug use and more in line with the general consensus among experts, many of whom argue that the 50- years of abuse of the Medicines Act urgently needs a revision.

Although the legislation aimed to prevent drug use by criminalizing those who use them, both illegal drug use and the harm caused by it have skyrocketed in the 50 years since it was first introduced.

Illicit drug trafficking is now estimated to cost the UK around £ 19 billion a year and has “never done more harm to society,” according to a Home Office review, with police efforts not only not curbing supply, but often fueling it increased violence in a market that now involves an “unprecedented” number of children.

As a result, support for a shift towards decriminalization or regulation of drugs is widespread among different sectors and political groups.

As reported by The independent one In 2019, several of the UK’s largest drug treatment providers urged the government to consider decriminalizing drugs to reduce drug-related deaths, National Police Chiefs’ Council drug chief Jason Harwin told the paper last year that he believed the issue of drug regulation in the UK is “a debate we should have here”.

Some police forces have already unofficially stopped criminalizing some people for drug possession and instead diverted those caught with small amounts of drugs to treatment and assistance. The government’s £ 28 million new Project ADDER pilot – “Addiction, Distraction, Disruption, Enforcement and Recreation” – includes expanding diversion plans, but the Home Office has also stated that police chiefs are expected to enforce the law.

North of the border, Scotland’s Lord Advocate recently decided to allow the local police force to do the same and to decriminalize Class A drugs as much as possible under the UK Substance Abuse Act, which experts say is preventing major reforms.

Newspapers of various stripes have campaigned for decriminalization, including the Daily record and The times, who recently published an opinion article by former Tory leader William Hague arguing, “My own attempt as a conservative leader to formulate ‘zero tolerance’ policies failed when more than a third of my shadow cabinet admitted, once itself to drugs to have taken. “

Meanwhile, polls have long indicated that there is an appetite for reform among the general public, with voters previously supporting calls for a full review of UK drug policy.

While Labor had previously called for a royal commission to legalize all drugs, the party’s current leader Sir Keir Starmer has been more cautious, suggesting that current UK policies are “largely correct”, and offered the imprisoned support for the recent move in Scotland on It is “reasonable to retain some discretion in certain cases as to whether people are criminalized for drug possession”.

“Poll after poll shows that a clear majority of the general public of all political beliefs recognizes that criminalizing drug users just doesn’t work,” said Martin Powell of reform-friendly organization Transform Drugs Policy The independent one.

“Yet punishing people for drug use is the failing foundation of the entire government approach. It is time for all political parties to catch up with the public and treat drugs as a health problem instead.

“We know from other countries like Portugal that already have an evidence-based approach to health in the 21st century.

“The last thing we should do is ruin the life chances of even more young people by giving them criminal records for using laughing gas.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The government has no plans to decriminalize drug possession. It would not eradicate the crime committed by illegal trafficking, nor would it eradicate the harm and misery that drug addiction can bring about to families and communities.

“Our drug approach remains clear – we need to prevent drug use in our communities, support people with treatment and recovery, and combat the supply of illicit drugs.”

“With the ADDER project, we are pursuing a comprehensive and integrated approach to preventing drug use and supporting drug addicts through treatment and recovery.”

The government plans to present a new long-term drug strategy by the end of the year.

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