UK Commission Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Possession, Marijuana Cultivation

A United Kingdom commission made up of leading scientists, academics, law enforcement officers and other experts is recommending decriminalization of drug possession in small quantities and of cultivation of marijuana.

The recommendations are the result of a six-year study by the UK Drug Policy Commission, whose members include the former head of the British Medical Research Council and the former chief inspector of constabulary. The commission points to the success of countries like Portugal, Switzerland and the Czech Republic in decriminalizing possession, and to evidence that the relative harms of alcohol and tobacco make different policy treatment for drugs “difficult to justify.” In addition to recommending moves toward decriminalization, the commission suggests review of the penalties for supply and distribution of drugs, and of the process for classifying drugs.

Taking drugs does not always cause problems, but this is rarely acknowledged by policy makers. In fact most users do not experience significant problems, and there is some evidence that drug use can have benefits in some circumstances. […]

With some 42,000 people in England & Wales sentenced annually for drug possession offences and about 160,000 given cannabis warnings, this amounts to a lot of time and money for police, prosecution and courts. On top of this comes the cost to the individual in terms of damage to employment prospects. Some people who do develop drug problems may also be put off from seeking help earlier because they are doing something illegal.

To address these costs, there is evidence to suggest that the law on the possession of small amounts of controlled drugs, for personal use only, could be changed so that it is no longer a criminal offence.

– Read the entire article at ThinkProgress.