Video: ex-minister wants drugs legally available

Critics have hit out at a call by a former Home Office drugs minister for all drugs to be legally available.

Watch a BBC debate on the issue

Labour MP Bob Ainsworth said there should be a system of legal regulation where some substances could be sold under licence and others would be prescribed by doctors.

But James Brokenshire, the crime prevention minister in the coalition Government, declared: “Drugs are harmful and ruin lives – legalisation is not the answer.”


A Labour spokesman said Mr Ainsworth’s views were, “not the views of Ed Miliband, the Labour Party or the public”.

And Debra Bell, who runs the campaign Talking About Cannabis, warned Mr Ainsworth’s comments would give some children a “green light” to start experimenting.

Mr Ainsworth was set to make the claims in a Westminster Hall debate today but earlier in the day made comments to the media.


In a radio interview Mr Ainsworth said cocaine should “probably” be available on prescription, and he said heroin should “certainly” be available on prescription. “We should examine this”, he commented.

One critic said he saw “utter confusion” from Mr Ainsworth.

The Labour MP, who is also a former defence secretary, criticised the coalition Government’s new drugs strategy for moving away from Labour’s ‘harm reduction’ approach.

Mr Ainsworth also hit out at the move by the previous Government to re-classify cannabis to a class B drug.


In 2004 cannabis was made a class C drug.

However, mounting evidence of the risks associated with the drug led the previous Government to return it to class B.

Crime prevention minister Mr Brokenshire said: “Decriminalisation is a simplistic solution that fails to recognise the complexity of the problem and ignores the serious harm drug taking poses to the individual.

“Legalisation fails to address the reasons people misuse drugs in the first place or the misery, cost and lost opportunities that dependence causes individuals, their families and the wider community.”


The coalition Government’s drugs strategy, which was unveiled earlier this month, hit out at situations where addicts are ‘parked’ on a substitute drug. “This must change”, it said.

The strategy did say substitute prescribing “continues to have a role” but the Coalition wants more people off drugs altogether.

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