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Time for a Royal Commission on drugs?

August 12, 2017 2:16 PM
By John Marriott in Lincolnshire Echo
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

John MarriottThe Echo is quite right that the current drugs problem caused largely by the extensive use of so called 'legal highs' needs to be tackled. Why not include a 'legal high' like alcohol for good measure?

A lot of the blame for the current epidemic, much of which started in our prisons, can be laid at the door of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, which the Heath government introduced to coincide with US President Richard Nixon's 'War on Drugs' policy, which basically criminalised the illicit use of most narcotics.

Previously, following the various Dangerous Drugs Acts, starting with the first in 1920, GPs in this country were able to prescribe morphine, cocaine and heroin to so called 'registered addicts', many of whom were able to lead relatively normal lives, with regular injections of unadulterated drugs. Alternatively they could be offered treatment to come off drugs altogether.

A few years ago I was lambasted for advocating decriminalisation - NOT legalisation, as was incorrectly reported at the time - of the use of certain drugs as a first step towards finding a radically new approach to a problem that is just not going to go away.

I have not changed my view except that I would say that we need something like a Royal Commission right now to look at addiction in its entirety, including alcohol, nicotine and other mood altering medications and narcotics. We should be listening to experts such as former Government drugs tsar, Professor David Nutt, who feels that we should adopt a predominantly public health approach to the problem, as is happening already in some European countries. Let's leave no stone unturned and let's see what alternatives there may be, which might actually work, to combat this appalling problem. We just cannot go on as we are.

John Marriott,

North Hykeham,