Should drugs be decriminalised?
Recent government figures show that the UK drug treatment programmes has had limited success in stopping drug users, leading to calls for decriminalisation from some parties. Kailash Chand believes that this is the best way to reduce the harm drugs cause, but Joseph Califano thinks not
YES There is a way that the UK government could more than halve the prison population, prevent burglaries and prostitution, rip the heart out of organised crime, and free up millions of hours of police time. Yet politicians, terrified of the rightwing press, would never dare to suggest the legalisation, regulation, and control of the drugs market, even though it could save lives and bring an end to the needless criminalisation of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Even downgrading cannabis—a tiny step in the right direction—is now being reconsidered.
Prohibition as a policy has failed. Just look at the US, where hundreds of thousands of people have been jailed and, despite billions of pounds of funding for draconian policies, higher purity drugs continue to flood the market.
Many of the violent criminal gangs owe their existence to the burgeoning, underground drug market. It is they—and not