Nick Clegg calls for ‘new approach’ to war on drugs

The Deputy Prime Minister has called for a “different strategy” to tackle drugs, saying that the “status quo is failing”.

Writing in The Observer following a recent trip to Colombia, he called for a “proper debate” about the need for a new approach to the drugs problem.

He said there is an “increasing critical mass of international voices” who are saying we’ve got to “think anew” and shouldn’t be held back by past approaches.


But Robert Buckland MP, chairman of the Conservative backbench committee on home affairs, said Mr Clegg’s suggestions were “not the answer” to the country’s drug problems.

“When people like him open up the debate in this way they send mixed messages to people using drugs” and “the idea that having a great debate will solve the problem is fantasy”, he added.

In his article, Mr Clegg said, “we must be prepared to start afresh” and be “prepared to do things differently”.


He said drug addiction should be treated as a “health issue”, and explained that he is a “firm believer in the need for a royal commission in Britain” on drugs.

“I want to end the tradition where politicians only talk about drugs reform when they have left office because they fear the political consequences”, he added.

But David Cameron has previously said there are no plans to change drugs laws.


And a spokesman from Number 10 said in response to Mr Clegg’s comments: “The prime minister’s views are well known.”

“He thinks we have the right approach. The government has a good record in this area with drug usage at its lowest level since records began.”

Currently, Liberal Democrat drugs minister Norman Baker MP is conducting a study on international approaches to drugs, and he said he has not ruled out liberalisation.


He has previously said that cannabis is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

Last year, the Liberal Democrats passed a motion at their Party conference saying that decriminalisation of drugs should be considered as an option in Britain.

Colorado became the first US state to legalise cannabis for recreational use last month, despite warnings from campaigners that the move would ‘open doors’ for a “new, powerful industry to downplay the effects of a substance they will be profiting off of and to downplay the effects of addiction”.