Liberal Democrats will vote to legalise cannabis and decriminalise all other personal drug use under plans put forward for approval at their party conference.
Nick Clegg’s party bosses have given the green light for a debate on the controversial proposal which would mean a ‘regulated market’ in marijuana overseen by the Government.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s aides expect party members to adopt the plan, making it official Lib Dem policy and creating tensions with Mr Clegg’s Tory partners in the Coalition.
MPs and drugs campaigners yesterday denounced the idea as likely to drag young people into a life of drug abuse.
The motion calls for an independent panel to examine how to set up ‘a strictly controlled and regulated cannabis market’ – effectively legalising the Class B drug. It says: ‘Possession of any controlled drug for personal use would not be a criminal offence.’
Instead of a punishment, police would send offenders to a panel ‘tasked with determining appropriate education, health or social interventions’.
The Lib Dem proposal claims that decriminalising the possession of drugs for personal use in Portugal has not led to a rise in abuse. And it says ‘heroin maintenance clinics in Switzerland and the Netherlands have delivered great health benefits for addicts’.
But drugs experts challenged those claims and pointed out that, while some drug users may be better off, decriminalisation has led to greater harm for societies as a whole.
The proposals will be opposed by the Tories as well as the Labour Party, which got into a huge mess over the classification of cannabis. When the Blair government reduced it to a Class C drug, overwhelming evidence from scientists about its psychotic properties swiftly caused a U-turn.
The plans were proposed by the Liberal Democrat constituency party in Glasgow South, the party’s young person’s wing Liberal Youth and 23 individual conference delegates.
Senior party officials revealed yesterday that it has now been approved by the Lib Dem Federal Conference Committee for debate in Birmingham in September.
Sources close to Nick Clegg said he expects the plans to be approved, meaning he will be shackled with the policy. It is unlikely to become law since changes in drugs legislation do not form part of the Coalition agreement.
After a flirtation with drug liberalisation when he first became an MP, David Cameron has said he is opposed to the legalisation of drugs.
Mr Clegg is said to be ‘relaxed’ about the plans. ‘He will watch the debate with interest,’ said a source. ‘It is perfectly sensible for a panel to look at these issues properly.’
David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: ‘Our prisons are full of mentally ill people damaged by drugs, and cannabis is where they start.
Claims about Portugal are based on one study which is disputed by international bodies. Portuguese politicians decriminalised personal use and now they don’t know how to get out of it.’
Conservative MP Charles Walker added: ‘My Tory colleagues will see sense and make sure this really stupid idea never happens. It is obvious that drugs do a great deal of harm.
‘Drugs should be illegal because it sends the right message: that drugs are damaging.’
– Article Originally from UK Mail Online.