Local Conservative MP Mike Weatherley became the latest politician to question the effectiveness of government drug policy at a recent debate. The event, which took place on the 30 September, had been organised by Mr Weatherley who was “concerned about the high rate locally of drug-related deaths.”
Weatherley criticised current government policy stating: “today there is a great deal of rhetoric about the ‘war on drugs’ which costs billions and returns minimal change at the level of communities. Drugs are still available. Maybe we are approaching this major problem from the wrong angle”.
Arguments were put forward in favour of legalisation and decriminalisation, as well as the possibility of stronger sentencing. This debate was only the latest in a long line of recent discussions about drug policy. All three major parties have shown a particular interest in the drug policy of Portugal where possession of drugs is not a criminal offence if the amount constitutes less than ten days usage.
Portugal has also reformed the way it punishes heavy users and dealers, advocating community service and rehabilitation over lengthy prison sentences.
David Cameron has sent drug advisors to Portugal to further investigate the consequences of decriminalisation. Weatherly closed the debate by saying: “this is a controversial subject and as a Member of Parliament I have a responsibility to lead on this issue. Indeed, I will be raising many of the issues that were discussed today in Parliament in the future.”
On campus, most supported partial legalisation, although many believed class A drugs should remain illegal due to the higher potential risk to human life.