The Liberal Democrats are pushing to decriminalise the possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, under proposals being debated in the Lords today.
Ex-police chief and Lib Dem Peer Brian Paddick has tabled amendments to the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill, seeking to legalise medical cannabis, delay moves to ban legal highs, and decriminalise the possession of all drugs for personal use.
When Lord Paddick was a senior police officer in the early 2000s, he instructed officers not to arrest or charge people found with small amounts of cannabis in Brixton.
But the experiment was heavily criticised by community leaders and residents, and a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that it led to a dramatic rise in the numbers of men admitted to hospital because of their use of harder drugs.
Kathy Gyngell, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said the Lib Dems’ latest calls for weaker drugs laws are “bewildering”.
“The evidence of Brian Paddick’s own disastrous experiment in Brixton shows just how dangerous and irresponsible this approach is”, she commented.
Lord Paddick is the Home Affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, and is one of the party’s 102 Peers.
Defending the amendments, Lord Paddick said that when he was a police officer, he came to a view that “locking up drug users” is not the answer.
Under the Psychoactive Substances Bill, importing, producing, selling or offering to sell ‘legal highs’ would be banned, with a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
The Liberal Democrats pledged to decriminalise the possession of drugs for personal use in their General Election manifesto.