Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Drugs must be legalised: top doctor

Illegal drugs should be decriminalised because the blanket ban has failed to cut crime or improve health, a leading doctor has said.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said he agreed drug laws should be “reconsidered with a view to decriminalising illicit drugs use”.

“There's a lot of evidence that the total prohibition of drugs, making them totally illicit and unavailable, has not been successful at reducing not only the health burden, but also the impact on crime,” he said. “There is a strong case for trying a different approach. I'm not saying we should make heroin available to everyone, but we should |be treating it as a health |issue rather than criminalising people.”

He added that he was “in favour of at least having a look at putting a regulatory framework around illicit drugs”.

A month ago, one of England's most senior lawyers, Nicholas Green QC, chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, said it would be “rational” to consider “decriminalising drug use”.

But MPs including Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, have insisted drugs should remain illegal as they are harmful.

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