Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has voiced his opinion that drug users should no longer be sent to prison.
In a move rejected by the Home Office, Mr Clegg announced that the Liberal Democrat 2015 general election manifesto will pledge to end prison sentences for possession.
Under the Lib Dems’ plan even those caught with Class A substances such as heroin and cocaine would avoid jail.
However, a spokesman from the Home Office defended the current law saying “drugs destroy lives and cause misery to families and communities and this Government has no intention of decriminalising them”.
Reaffirming the Government’s approach, he added: “It is vital that the police and criminal justice system have a range of measures available to them.
He said that “law enforcement and the criminal justice system must also have the tools to deal robustly with serious and repeat offenders who cause the most harm in our communities”.
Mr Clegg’s comments coincide with an announcement to be made by the Lib Dem Home Office minister Norman Baker, with the previous approval of Home Secretary Theresa May.
Mr Baker is expected to reveal plans to supply heroin addicts with free foil to assist them inhaling the drug.
The minister claims that providing free foil is part of “structured efforts to get individuals off drugs”.
The idea of providing heroin users with free foil was floated by Theresa May in July last year.
Responding to Mrs May’s comments, former Conservative shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said there was too much focus on “maintaining people on drugs” rather than “getting people drug-free”.
In addition, columnist Peter Hitchens described the idea as “stupid” while a drugs misuse expert warned it could “deliver a massive headache for the police and the courts”.